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Northwest Couloir

5.4 AI2 Mod. Snow, Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 1500 ft (455 m), Grade III,  Avg: 2 from 1 vote
FA: SP Parker, Dec 1982
California > High Sierra > 06 - Little Lak… > Wheeler Peak
Access Issue:
  • *NATIONAL FORESTS IN THIS AREA MAY BE CLOSED**
Details

Description

The striking and deep cleft on the right side of the main face. Probably best done as an early summer climb as it is quick to melt out and expose the shattered and loose rock step midway up the couloir (this is reportedly the 5.4 part). When we climbed it in mid June of a big snow year, this section was covered with a nice flow of water ice and the snow was frozen to a neve-like condition in the early morning. This climb does not last into the "typical" fall ice season most years, and I can only imagine the December FA was a powder-snow postholing mess. The angle never exceeds 50 degrees save for the rock/ice step. At the top of the couloir, we headed left up a dry chute to gain a class-4 ridge leading directly to the summit.

Location

Right of center on the main face. We downclimbed and descended the couloir to the left (~40 degree snow), but the preferred descent is to follow the ridgeline northeast for 1/3 mile to a broad low-angle snow or talus chute. Make sure to leave nothing at the base if going this way.

Protection

A light rock rack and potentially a couple pickets and/or ice screws for those wishing to rope up.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

NB getting some early season sticks
[Hide Photo] NB getting some early season sticks
Looking up from the base. The NW Arete climbs the rock to the left, and the North Arete climbs the rock to the right. These names do not make sense when looking at their respective locations on a map (they should be reversed).
[Hide Photo] Looking up from the base. The NW Arete climbs the rock to the left, and the North Arete climbs the rock to the right. These names do not make sense when looking at their respective locations on a m…
Scrambling along the final ridgeline to the summit. Red and White Mountain, Red Slate Mountain, and Mt Morgan North can be seen behind.
[Hide Photo] Scrambling along the final ridgeline to the summit. Red and White Mountain, Red Slate Mountain, and Mt Morgan North can be seen behind.
The upper portion of the couloir
[Hide Photo] The upper portion of the couloir
NB enjoying more alpine ice higher on the climb
[Hide Photo] NB enjoying more alpine ice higher on the climb
The NW Couloir is the sunlit one right of center.
[Hide Photo] The NW Couloir is the sunlit one right of center.