We have been striking out left and right recently. The storms diverged/don’t even develop, the sun comes out and it is 60 degrees, or ,and this is my favorite, it dumps 2ft right after we leave. But hey, that is life and thats why we love skiing, it ain’t easy but when you get it good, you appreciate it all the more.
Well we finally hit it good, down in Moab of all places. We took bikes, a sled, skis, skins and camping gear to the desert. Some of you may remember a post several years ago about the ‘Helen Keller couloir’, I had touted it as one of the most committing and scary things I have ever done. Well this past trip it managed to be even spicier…and scarier. This time I hiked up a different route, so I had no idea what the snow or the width of the couloir was like. I also (stupidly) skied it all by myself, meaning there was no one within an hour of getting to me should anything go wrong, think soloing a big rock climb.
Once at the top I was exhausted and was staring down a REALLY narrow slot. The first turns in are the most committing and were solid wind buff. My skis chattered around like crazy and it was difficult to set an edge, however it all went smooth and then I was into the gut of the beast. The first time I skied it the crux was about 180cm wide, exactly as wide as my skis. This time, due to a low snow year, the crux was about 90cm wide. There was no way my Hoji 187cm were going to fit. This is also not the kind of line you can just point, because there is no slowing down and there is no falling.
After taking off my skis in what seemed like the steepest part of the couloir, down-climbing and then putting my skis back on I was ready to make some more turns. Usually putting my skis on is the scariest part of any climb/ski, I feel MUCH more comfortable with them on. But having to do so in the middle of this line oddly did not phase me at the time, I think I was so hypersensitive to not screw up that it all went smoothly.
With my skis back on I made some more tight turns and slowly made my way down. I have never sat down in the middle of a line, usually they are over pretty quickly, but this one took more out of me than I could have imagined. After skiing the couloir in its entirety, I peaked around the corner right above the apron and had to give my legs a break. I was breathing so hard I couldn’t even get on the radio. Even on the apron, the snow was extremely variable and took just as much concentration to ski as did the couloir.
So now that you have a little bit more ‘behind the scenes’ info, watch as it all got captured on film.