Kessler West Couloir

This year has just been so casually excellent. Great lines in good snow with reasonable safety has been the standard, with great coverage on most lines beginning early in the season. While I’ve wanted to ski the West Couloir on Kessler for quite a while now, particularly after skiing all of the other Chuting Gallery lines on Kessler with Noah in one day, the way that we were able to casually march up there and ski it in powder this week was a laugh– almost anticlimactic, but for the great turns.

Looking off the ridge into the East Couloir.

East couloir: This one had slid and reloaded. Left for another day.
Some clearing from the summit of Kessler, West couloir out of sight below.

Nick has been off in Vietnam, braving the Wuhan, and then in Jackson, so we were due to catch up. A solid skin up Argenta to the top of Kessler at a casual pace made for ample chatting time. Topics: bats, rabies, southeast asian drinking habits and karaoke classics, friends we suspect are hiding pregnancies.

Despite some natural wind slab avalanches notes on West and North aspects on the way up, the Westerlies off the top offered no evidence of instability and just nice unconsolidated pow.

Nick in the upper West Couloir, and the snow was fiiiine.
More great snow in the upper bowl.
Below the upper bowl, a choke, and a proper couloir.

The line is a cool one. Basically, it’s a series of hanging bowls linked by chokes, and consequently you can vary your aspect slightly for the best snow.

Nick, out through another choke.
Navigating around the exit cliff.

The end of the line is punctuated by a cliff big enough to hurt you but not to kill you, which is readily evident and easily skirted. There are a couple of lines that funnel together here, and it would be fun to come back to climb some easy ice and ski something less common.

Lots of moderate ice hiding back here.
And voila. The line begins at the high point and follows the obvious straight couloir into the complex terrain below.

Category: Skiing


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