After a cold night in the Megamid, Mike and I finally forced ourselves out around 7:30. We didn’t feel the suns rays until almost 9, due to our proximity behind some large cliffs and it made putting our frozen boots back on that much harder. The morning coffee tasted good though and with the addition of some brown sugar and butter, the oatmeal was almost just as nice.
Soon enough we were on our way and skinning towards Mile Long Lake. Our plan was to just see what lines we could find…and ski them. Pretty simple really. The options quickly became evident and we saw a cool feature off to the left that looked like a good idea. As we toured further up the lake though, it looked like a nice Y-shaped couloir was available for our shrapling on the right, so we started heading in its direction.
We skinned up to the base of the couloir and put on our crampons. A little debris littered the bottom of the line, but things smoothed out quickly as we gained elevation. There were a few different routes we could take on the way up, but we went for the one right in the middle and through a few rocks. The slope steepened a bit as we got closer to the top and we stayed on the looker’s right, away from the cornices heating up quickly by the sun.
I was hoping we’d get a view of the Tetons when we topped out on the over 12,000′ Ram Flat, but my wishes didn’t come true. We did get a great view of the Continental Glacier though, which sits right on the Continental Divide and separates the Bridger/Teton and Shoshone National Forests. The opportunity for high elevation touring here is unmatched and if we wanted, we could have traveled for miles and miles on the high plateau. But we were here to ski and we turned our attention back to the Y-Couloir.
The snow seemed pretty solid and stable in the couloir, but we cautiously dropped in just to be sure. The snow on the skier left seemed a bit better…softer, so I milked that side on the way down. Mike came down after me. I haven’t skied with Mike very much and I was impressed by the fluidity of his turns and skiing style…very much in the front seat. We skied further down the couloir to where it split in few different directions. Mike went right and I went left. We met up below…both with huge smiles on our faces.
We got back down to the lake and searched for some open water to refill Mike’s sole Nalgene bottle, but didn’t have any luck. I offered up some of mine as we both took a minute to refuel on energy gels and ProBars. It was still relatively early in the day, so we steered our ski tips in the direction of a nice north facing shot and out of the sun. The couloir looked to have a low angle section at the top…quickly rolling over to a super steep section…much like the first drop of a roller coaster. At first, the plan was to boot up the couloir, but as we got higher, it looked like we would be able to gain the top of the ridge if we skinned up a weakness to the right. It was a little steep and technical, but we were well prepared with our ski crampons.
The wind had picked up tremendously by the time we got to the top and it was right in our faces as we linked up the patches of snow on the wind swept ridge to the top of the Roller Coaster Couloir. We came in from the skier’s right and regrouped below a buttress on the right, and the start of the flatter section. Mike’s camera had frozen after getting one shot at the top, joining my camera that didn’t work at all after the cold night. Though the temps didn’t seem that cold, the wind was having its way with our electronics and had now put both of our cameras out of commission. It’s unfortunate too, because the imagery skiing through the low angle corridor and over the edge to the steeper section was amazing. Soft snow on the skier right made the skiing much more casual that it would have been if it was firm and we made kung-fu turns on our way down.
It was getting close to late afternoon now and a good time to head back to camp for a hit of whiskey and hot chocolate as we melted snow to refill our water containers. Luckily, Mike was able to revive his camera with some fresh batteries in hopes of capturing some more cool images the following day.