Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - South Early Winter Spire/Southwest Couloir

Good weather, good snow, and great views.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • There was good snow going all the way up the couloir.

The southwest couloir is often melted out to scree by late May but this year the wet spring has kept it full of snow.

Our party of five met at the Blue Lake trailhead at 6:30 a.m. and set out under a clear blue sky. The snow was nice and firm and we left our snowshoes on our packs. As it turns out, they stayed there on our return trip too.

We roped up at a small stand of trees near the couloir entrance. Since we didn't have an assistant leader we all tied into one rope and climbed with a running belay. The snow was in good shape and the footing felt very secure. It was a little icy through the narrowest section.


The rocks going to the summit still held some snow so we kept our crampons on and protected the short scramble. At the summit we were treated to warm sun and terrific views in every direction.

Summit view

Group photo[Group photo: Ryan Cairnes]

On the summit we ran into two Mountaineers on an independent climb. We joined forces for the descent. We did a single rope rappel from a tree just below the summit into the couloir. A double-rope rappel down the couloir got us past the narrow icy section. From there we downclimbed out of the couloir and headed back to the cars.


We were back at the trailhead around 1:30 p.m.

Gear: One 60 m rope for the ascent and two for the rappels. We used three pickets, three cams, and two hexes. We carried snowshoes but didn't use them.


Add a comment

Log in to add comments.
Susan Shih
Susan Shih says:
May 23, 2022 08:34 PM

Wow, that's so fast!

Ananth Maniam (ஆனந்த் மணியம்)
Ananth Maniam (ஆனந்த் மணியம்) says:
Jun 01, 2022 11:13 AM

Nice work Stephen and team! Love the summit picture and smiles :)