Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blackcap Mountain, Northwest Couloir

I am recently back from a 14 day mountaineering course run for the Outward Bound School. For those of you not familiar with this year's snowpack, it was massive. And remains massive. This is normally a pretty fun course that goes out of the Courtright Resevoir area on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, and receives a mid-point horse-packed resupply, but with 4 to 5 feet of snow on the ground even at our 7,500ft trailhead, we ended up having to do a 12 day unsupported carry, and depart from a lower and farther trailhead. Pretty burly for 10 students who had not done much if any backpacking before, 3 of whom had never walked on snow! It was a steep learning curve to say the least. The objective of the trip was to climb the Northwest Couloir (1,200ft. 45-50 degree snow) on Blackcap Mountain, which is waaaay out there. With a crew any less strong, this would have been a bit of an overly ambitious goal, but our students rallied, and put down some serious off-trail, suncupped snow, sun-battered miles to get up to the McGuire Lakes basecamp.

My instructors, Rafi and Coop, did a great job of moving the students quickly over technical snow and rock, putting up six full fixed pitches as they gunned for the summit. With a camp to camp time of just over 9 hours, our group was worked, but very satisfied.

A lightening fast glissade back through the West Bowl got us back to camp and we hiked out in record time to the 4th of July crazyness at the Wishon resevoir. Special thanks to Dan and Stefan for the unbelievable pistachio encrusted rainbow trout at Woodchuck Lake!

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