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|Type: ||Snow, Alpine, 8 pitches|
|Submitted By: ||Kurt Johnson on Oct 31, 2006|
BETA PHOTO: Chiropractic Couloir in the center of the photo.
I call it Chiropractic Couloir, because, as seen from town, its elegant curve resembles the profile of the human spine as might be seen on a brochure at a chiropractor's office. If it already has a name, I apologize. I've seen it for years and talked to numerous people about it, and no one's seemed to know anything about it. Most of the winter it's just another snow slope, but come spring it stands out prominently and is one of the few couloirs in the Park visible from town.
It's got a relatively short season, due to the huge cornice on top which doesn't break off until early May, and the fact that it's mostly melted out by early June. The cornice wouldn't be such a limiting factor by itself, because if you can climb the couloir fast on a cold morning before the sun heats things up, you can exit left at the top and avoid it. But if it did break off mid-climb and knocked you off your feet, you risk getting swept over a 50 foot cliff at the bottom.
To get there, head up toward Andrews Glacier and left into The Gash. Between the glacier and Sharkstooth is a massive cliff band with a notch right through the middle (which could be described as two separate formations, the left of which may be "The Stiletto" which looks like a prominent spire next to Sharkstooth when viewed from Sky Pond). This is where the couloir lies, and the closer you get to the base, the less you can see of its upper portion. If you were to head up to Sharkstooth, you'd have to pass through a small gap in a long 50 foot cliff band. This band's right hand terminus is the start of the route, as well as the cliff you might get swept over if you lost your footing. You can access the couloir from either the top or bottom of the cliff band, but it's shorter to start from the bottom (right).
The narrowest, steepest part of the route isn't too far above the top of the cliff. When I did it this year around the first week of June, this section was almost all melted out, so I had to take a skinny band of snow on the left that bridged the gap. Not too far beyond this the angle eases off and eventually takes you to a broad, fan shaped headwall. Again, this past June, a short section from the top of the couloir to the bottom of the headwall was melted out, but it wasn't steep. If there's still a hazardous cornice, you can exit left, but when I was there the overhanging part of the cornice had broken off, and I was able to head straight up the middle of the headwall and exit at a small gap. The exit move was the steepest part of the climb, but can be avoided by taking the left exit.
From the top, take in the views of the other side of the divide and then head north (right) to Andrews Glacier and descend back to the Andrews Glacier trail.
It's a good solo, but you can protect it with pickets and/or a small rock rack.
A view of Chiropractic Couloir taken the first wee...
Looking down the couloir from eye level with the t...
Looking up at the headwall from where the top of t...
The top of the headwall, with the left exit in the...
BETA PHOTO: Chiropractic Couloir as seen from Devil's Gulch Ro...
Climber on Chiropractic Couloir - 04/18/2010.
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