Prompted by Martin Volken and spurred on by the views we gained last weekend, Erin Smart and I headed out Wednesday for a Gold Creek adventure. Our goal: a 2,800' couloir that drops off the west side of Alta Mountain.
We found our way up onto the plateau of Rampart Ridge using logging roads and some very fun little breaks in the terrain. It ended up being quite a haul: the day totalled 5,200' of climbing and 13 miles. My feet are still sore.
We skied the couloir very carefully, as we had only a few photos and the map as references. The couloir starts right off the summit! Remarkably, we found good snow the whole way down.
We also found a few vertical steps. With a longer rope we could have rappelled the biggest one, but instead we skirted into the trees skier's left. The rest we were able to bypass with some billy-goating.
It was a long 3,000' run from the summit to gold Creek. Erin and I have both avoided Gold Creek exits on numerous occasions, fearing the epic slog. Indeed, skinning downhill for 5 miles is a little trying. But the valley has a very wild feel in its upper reaches, and I find myself looking forward to my next visit. I saw some big tracks that MAY have been wolverine, and the slide paths alone are reason to check it out. A fine adventure in Cascades ski mountaineering.