Saturday, April 30, 2011

Commonwealth North Couloir

This is one of the most striking and obvious lines as you drive from Canmore into K-Country and turn the corner around Mt. Buller. There where lots of rumors about it but I actually have not heard from anyone trying it yet. There are 3 obvious rock steps and is was not clear if one could could climb up it or ski down afterwards. On March 25th I finally had a chance to try it out, together with Andrew and Craig McGee. We were not really well equipped for such a goal, since we actually wanted to ski corn on Mt. Nestor.

The first rock step was no problem, since it was partially filled with snow on the left side, but the second step was impossible with the slim gear we brought. 2 ice tools and crampons would be needed for the short but difficult step. I'm also not a good enough skier to jump that step on the way down, so a rope and harness for rappelling would be required too. So about 3/4 up we had to abandon our goal, but still got an exiting run down the deep cleft.
Since the day was young we decided to at least climb the peak via it's west ridge, which was very worthwhile and it also gave us a chance to check out the upper part of the North couloir.
At the summit we finally got a nice break in the weather and we could soak in some rays and spectacular views.
After skiing down into Commonwealth Creek we still had some energy to skin up the steep south facing slope below the fist and drop into the "Fist Couloir" on the Northside. This exiting line brought us down into Tryst Lake and back to the car during another snow storm. All in all an unexpected fun day and the first intro to K-Country for the imported coastal-spoiled Craig, who called it the Mini Alaska.

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