Fletcher Mountain: Northeast Couloir

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The Y Couloir (looker’s right) and Northeast Couloir, as seen from McCullough Gulch on May 5th.

Partner: Marc Barella
Route: Ascent of Fletcher’s Y Couloir from McCullough Gulch, ski descent of Northeast Couloir to 12,000′
Stats: 3,100′ climbed, 1,950′ skied, 8 miles, 5 hours RT

Marc and I set off from the gate at the same time as the previous weekend, intent on skiing Fletcher. With the approach through McCullough fresh in our minds we were able to make good time to treeline. Following our skin/ski tracks from the weekend prior, we wound our way up though numerous hills and rolls until we were greeted with a full on view of Atlantic. The relative timing of the sun hitting the Southeast Face confirmed we had shaved some minutes off our approach time.

Deja vu.

Another bluebird day was in the works; consistently settled weather is one of the few benefits of a tame snow season I suppose. Marc and I contoured underneath Atlantic’s massive Southeast Face, making note of the reclusive Atlantis Couloir as we passed by. It’s amazing how many people seem to mistake the V for Atlantis, I must admit even we made this mistake the week prior. We skinned to the base of Fletcher’s Y Couloir, threw the planks on our backs, and began the ascent.

Marcus Aurelius, and Atlantic Peak.

Although the Y was clearly out (as confirmed on our way up the valley), we thought climbing it and skiing the Northeast Couloir would make for a nice loop. A few hundred feet of moderately steep snow climbing had us to the rocky choke.

Mixing it up to get through the choke thing.

The Y is a nice climb, so nice that after topping out on the summit cornice we elected to reverse our climb, ski back down to just above the rock choke, and climb back to the summit again. A few more turns added to the day is never a bad thing right? Upon topping out for the second time the winds had really began to pick up, so we didn’t stay long.

Continuous snow ran from the summit to the top of the Northeast Couloir.

We each edged our way out and over the cornice, which was respectably steep in the condition in which we found it. Nice, soft snow filled the couloir from top to bottom.

The drop in.

“You knew Marcus Aurelius??”

My turn. Photo by Marc.

Like the previous week, we were able to cover a mile and a half on skis, all the way down to 12,000′ just above treeline. Throwing the skis on the back and trudging to the car in ski boots made me wonder if this was my last 2011/2012 Colorado ski day.

A parting photo, and a tribute to spring, 2012.

Thanks for reading…

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