I finally got the chance to ride with the squad on Sunday, and we had a great day cruising a short but classic couloir that none of us had ridden before. These guys are all long time friends from school days and while we don’t get a chance to link up for big missions too often these days it is always a great time when we do. The group dynamic is awesome, with communication being very open and accepting, and while we are all experts at tossing verbal ‘spears’ straight into each other’s emotional weaknesses, there is no pressure to push it past your comfort level and no machismo blocking honest communication. We will confidently and openly question each other’s decisions and express our thoughts. This is the ideal group dynamic when operating high consequence situations, and is no doubt a lot of the reason we were able to confidently negotiate our way through/around the old wind slab that had shut down the group whose bootpack we had happily been following until it abruptly ended about three quarters of the way up the line.
After some side stepping, traversing, and restarting we were able to pick a pretty stable route past/through the old slab to the top of the line that I also felt would be supportive on the ride down. The top of the line was pretty mellow with no cornice (that’s a first!) and only a slight convexity to deal with before you reached a comfortably wide platform for 4 people to transition without worrying about knocking anyone else’s gear down the abyss.
The north facing line rode really nicely – much nicer than any of us had expected, with 10 or so centimetres of that nice dense but-not-too-dense powder you start to see this time of year in the Rockies overlying a slightly denser layer beneath. Mid-line it transformed into a bit of a crusty ride but quickly changed back into powder as you reached the bottom.
After some high fives and a bit of walking we reached the south facing exit, which had changed from a horrendous ice sheet in the morning to perfect spring corn by 12:15 when we dropped in. We made short work of the exit and were soon crushing brownies and pizza wraps at the bakery in Lake Louise like true athletes!