Saturday, April 12, 2008

Corbett Creek Cirque, First Ski Descent

Last week Chad Peele and I made the likely first descent of a steep, narrow couloir in the Corbett Creek Cirque. At the headwaters of the Corbett Creek drainage, this rugged cirque is bounded by steep and complex terrain on east side of Corbett Peak. In the photo above, we skied the obvious couloir coming off a small rock peak on the left end of the ridge. While only four miles from Ouray, the approach covers 5000' vertical feet and requires navigation of some steep and convoluted terrain. Despite the effort, it was easily worth the incredible 2000' chute we skied. With knee deep, dry powder and excellent stability, the 40+ degree upper chute was in decidedly perfect condition. Making jump turns through the skinny couloir, with deep powder underfoot and bordered by rock towers and minarets on all sides, was a stunning skiing experience.

After the initial rock walled chute, it opened up a bit and we were able to make big, cruiser turns through more great snow. The couloir offered a continuous 2000' vertical to its confluence with the drainage. From there, another 3000' vertical of gladed trees, tight trees, and eventually hiking returned us to the car.

Chad making turns in the couloir.

The last image is of Chad kicking steps in the upper couloir.