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Trip Report    

South Early Winter Spire/Southwest Couloir

Route isn't in shape for long - take advantage!

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

April 30, 2016. My wife and I made a quick trip up to SEWS via the SW Couloir on Saturday. We parked at the Blue Lake Trail Head and made our way through the woods to the large clearing below the Winter Spires. The snow was very firm and took crampons well.

We climbed past the chockstone and up to the fork in the couloir, where we began to pitch it out (not exactly necessary - we ran into another group of 3 out that day that didn't rope up). As Stephen noted in his May 1 trip report, a lot of the upper section of the couloir has melted out already, making for some loose choss/rocks. We stuck to the sides of the gully, where there are some good holds to use. To protect the route, we used some snow pickets and cams (.5 and .75 camalots were handy). A second tool was nice to have, but not necessary, for the steep snow.

The last little scramble up the rocks to the summit is pretty much snow free. While there are some rap stations you can use on the way down, we opted to down climb the couloir with the crampons on. Returned to the car the same way we came.