Free Shipping over $75 | Sale! Save up to 15%

Check out this trip report from Liz Daley about her recent Snowboard descent of the NW Couloir of Mt. Shuksan:

Words and Photos By Liz Daley

It has been FIRING the last month in Washington as you may have known. Mt. Baker has the second largest snowpack in the world right now at 157.9 inches, not very surprising, right? After the entire Mt. Baker ski area closed for 3 days during the snowpocalypse we’ve had epic blue-bird days for the past week or so. I taught a backcountry splitboard course through AAI last weekend in Mt. Baker’s backcountry and was tormented, looking up at Mt. Shuksan for three days straight. The NW Courloir was looking so irresistible with the stable snowpack we’ve had with only further stability projected. I was hoping to get up there before the weather/stability shifted or I’d surely loose my mind!

Here’s a zoomed in shot of the route from the BD website:

The NW couloir is a 50 degree, super exposed line. It starts with the blind roll-over at the top which can be pretty intimidating, then you get to the choke which is a short section of 50 degrees. At the base of the choke you make a sketchy exposed skiers left traverse, above some cliffs, out of the couloir onto the face. After this you enjoy a steep slide down 2,500 +/-, which gradually turns into a less gripped free-riding frenzy down to the Salmon Creek drainage. We shredded from the col at the top of the Crystal Glacier at about 8,600ft down to Salmon Creek drainage at 3,000ft. Making this about a 5,600 ft line! STOKED!

Blaine and Rhett, Pro patrol watch out! We left Bham at 2:45am, leaving the Mt. Baker parking lot at 4:45am. None of us had been up Shuksan before so we were playing it safe time-wise. A 4:45am departure proved to be more than enough time.

Sunrise on the skin up the White Salmon Glacier.

Mt. Baker at sunrise, so epic!

Me at our high point and the only sun we enjoyed the whole climb/descent. Shuksan summit pyramid behind me.

Rhett dropping. Since none of us had been on Shuksan or knew exactly where the entrance to the NW Couloir was, we dropped in far skiers right against the rocks in a well defined steep couloir. We descended about 400 ft when it turned to blue ice and cliffed out right above the NW Couloir. We could see down the entire line but there was no way to get down safely with 4,000 feet exposure below. I anchored myself into the blue ice, carefully changed over to crampons and we all hiked out. When we dropped in again we stayed more skiers left and dropped over the blind roll-over to a steep face with no crevasses that led directly to the entrance of the couloir. Ya live and learn…

So stoked to be done with crux and heel side traverse, I put my axe away and we prepare for shred.

Steep, kind of scary but the snow was firm and edge-able pow the entire way. It got a little variable towards the bottom of the face but soon after turned to fluffy goodness.
We began hiking out of the drainage at 1:30pm, had a 700ft climb then skin/ski back a cat-track to the White Salmon Lodge. Plenty of time for champagne in the parking lot staring up at Shuksan as the sun went down. Good times had by all! Thanks Blaine and Rhett for a great day!

Share Story
Published on
7 January 2013
25
Jan
Splitboard Skills Courses In Tahoe And The Tetons
You want to ride dream lines? What are you waiting for? Learn to splitboard! With a split in your quiver and the proper backcountry skills a lifetime of amazing riding experiences awaits you. Finding the right partners to teach you the protocols...
Brendan Burns, Iris Lazzareschi
7
Jan
Introducing The Ultra Mind Expander
It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when... Introducing the 2019 Ultra Mind Expander LTD, a new super charged version of the Mind Expander that Jeremy Jones and surf shaper Chis Christenson have been dreaming about for years. The Ultra...
Jeremy Jones, Jimmy Goodman
18
Dec
Meet The Team
From The Pipe To The Peaks - The Evolution Of Elena Hight
How do you top a fifteen year competitive freestyle snowboard career and a mantle full of the biggest trophies in the game? If you’re two-time US Olympic Halfpipe team member Elena Hight, the next chapter of your shred career starts with a long...
4
Dec
Adventure Season
Range Of Mystery - Nick Russell’s New Adventure Splitboard Movie
Range Of Mystery, a new movie by Jones ambassador Nick Russell and Gray Thompson, shares the odyssey of three snowboarders in search of a fabled mountain range. From Tahoe to India to Bolivia, the movie follows Nick, Gray and Danny Davis as they...
Nick Russell
3
Dec
Published by Jeremy Jones - Mountain Safety
Jeremy Jones’ Backcountry Safety TIME Guidelines
Story By Jeremy Jones Disclaimer: I am not an avalanche expert. I have made mistakes in the mountains and unfortunately may again. I am always trying to learn more about the mountains through mentors, classes and experience. Time often plays a...
Jeremy Jones
3
Dec
Published by Jeremy Jones - Mountain Safety
Jeremy Jones’ Backcountry Mental Checklist
Story by Jeremy Jones Disclaimer: I am not an avalanche expert. My personal protocol to approaching the backcountry is something I am always trying to evolve and improve. I have made many mistakes in the mountains. I take these mistakes...
Jeremy Jones
// CODE US