I played hooky from the rando race this weekend because conditions were just too good with a bunch of fresh snow and blue skies. The timing was just right and I took advantage of the good weather to ski a new line that I have been looking at for many years with Bryan Feinstein and Colin O’Farrell. Technically, I guess you could call it the Southeast Couloir of Cloudveil Dome, but I call it the Nugget Line…because to the huge chockstone at the bottom that can be prominently seen from the top of 25 Short. Maybe there are some other names for it out there (feel free to share), but you rarely see tracks in this couloir or hear of people skiing it.
It seemed like a leisurely start for me and we barely caught the sunrise as we drove up to the park. For a bluebird Saturday, there sure didn’t seem to be many cars in the parking lot and we broke trail all the way into Garnet Canyon. I say Garnet, because we decided not to climb the Nugget, which empties into Avalanche Canyon, opting for a mellow skin all the way up Garnet to the col that was the start of the descent. I’ve scoped this line out a thousand times and even had a picture in my camera, so I felt confidant that I knew where we were going even though we were using the backdoor.
The wind was pumping a little bit at the col and it was a little hectic getting geared up with all the spindrift being blown in our face, packs and really any little nook and cranny it could find..As soon as I slid onto the other side of the ridge though, the wind was chill and the sun felt great…psyching me up to ski the line. After getting a feel for the snowpack with a couple feeler turns, I started linking turns in the soft powder and arching my way down to the area where you traverse to the east. The skiing was phenomenal and the snow seemed to be staying put for the most part.
The next section was kind of the spicy part of the line and the one that was most in question as to its steepness and skiability. Though it has looked good from afar, you never really know for sure until you go check it out yourself. I snuck into the very top of the couloir to get a good look, while the others stayed high and spotted me as I ski-cut a loaded area at the top. Once in position, I was able to see that the section looked manageable and I waved the others to join me for the piece-de-resistance of the Nugget Line.
The snow was amazing and we all had big grins as we skied in a beautiful setting amongst big cliffs and surrounding peaks. The steep section dumped us onto a big, open snowfield that was just the right pitch were we could open it up a bit more and make big fast turns. We ate up vertical quickly and we found ourselves above the chockstone and needing to find an anchor to rappel out of the couloir. Bryan was in charge of the anchor and rapped first…and our one rope was just long enough to get us back on snow, though not quite touching the ground.
We chilled for a bit in the warm sun under the chockstone, soaking in the pleasure of having skied a fun line in great snow conditions. A few ideas were being tossed around for the following day and what looked like another sunny day.