Williams Peak - the wild way

Williams Peak - the wild way

pat
pat

June 19th, 2012, 4:12 am #1

Fifteen minutes after entering the "June Couloir" of Williams Peak, Nick and I knew we were in danger. Cookie sized rocks strafed our heads as we screamed up the soft ice. The size of the falling debris multiplied as the clock struck 9:00. While pondered this, a larger projectile exploded to Nick's right sending dozens of smaller pieces flying in every direction. "Let's bail" we said in unison.

The name "June Couloir" is short for "You-will-likely-die-if-you-try-to-climb-this-on-a-hot-day-in-June Couloir". A warm night in the Sawtooth valley did not help the situation. The route needs to be climbed in sub freezing weather.

Nick and I quickly rappelled 200 feet to distance ourselves from the disintegrating cliff above. "What should we do now?" Plagued by the guilt of wussing out, our gaze turned to an amazing white couloir nearby which had the potential to redeem us from the shame of retreat. We launched ourselves up this safe feature. The Redemption Couloir is east of the June Couloir. It is 40 degrees and capped by a small cornice between two stable rock walls.

After clearing the cornice, we lunched in sunshine and scanned the cliffs above. I immediately mis-remembered a passage from the guidebook which I wrongly believed stated that the east ridge of Williams Peak was only a third class scramble. It sure looked harder than that, but we figured "What the heck. We'll give it a go."

Soon we were third classing rock that was actually fifth class and beginning to get concerned. Our ropes and hardware were nestled snuggly in our packs as we climbed higher and higher without protection. Finally, I called up "Nick, throw me down a rope."

Nick responded "Not now, I need to concentrate."

"Fair enough" I thought.

A shout of relief and joy soon followed. The end of a rope came into view. "Sorry, I was forced to do a V4 move over the NE Face" Nick, an avid boulder, explained. For the next 500 feet, we stayed roped up, occasionally belaying on the trickier sections. In short order, we were at the top of the our earlier abandoned quest, the June Couloir. We gazed over the edge at the loose final pitch. On cue, a large rock tumbled down the NE face, and crashed into the couloir before rumbling down to the valley below. We felt vindicated.

A stop on the windy summit and a fine glissade of the SE Face brought us back to the trail and safety.


The June Couloir is in the center of Williams Peak. The Redemption Couloir is to the left and so it the East Ridge.


Bombs away! Nick in the lower June Couloir.


The wonderful white Redemption Couloir


The East Ridge didnt look third class.



The top of the June Couloir was full of loose rocks.


Splattski!


Lets go home!


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Joined: October 22nd, 2007, 1:35 am

June 19th, 2012, 2:41 pm #2

Great stuff, guys. Glad you were able to summit after wisely bailing from the bowling alley.

When in Stanley this past weekend I kept looking up at that thin white line, wondering if any fools ever attempted it. I should have known you guys would.

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Luddite
Luddite

June 19th, 2012, 6:38 pm #3

The Kitty Litter Couloir (AKA June Couloir) has be climbed AND skied...
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Wes
Wes

June 19th, 2012, 7:31 pm #4

Fifteen minutes after entering the "June Couloir" of Williams Peak, Nick and I knew we were in danger. Cookie sized rocks strafed our heads as we screamed up the soft ice. The size of the falling debris multiplied as the clock struck 9:00. While pondered this, a larger projectile exploded to Nick's right sending dozens of smaller pieces flying in every direction. "Let's bail" we said in unison.

The name "June Couloir" is short for "You-will-likely-die-if-you-try-to-climb-this-on-a-hot-day-in-June Couloir". A warm night in the Sawtooth valley did not help the situation. The route needs to be climbed in sub freezing weather.

Nick and I quickly rappelled 200 feet to distance ourselves from the disintegrating cliff above. "What should we do now?" Plagued by the guilt of wussing out, our gaze turned to an amazing white couloir nearby which had the potential to redeem us from the shame of retreat. We launched ourselves up this safe feature. The Redemption Couloir is east of the June Couloir. It is 40 degrees and capped by a small cornice between two stable rock walls.

After clearing the cornice, we lunched in sunshine and scanned the cliffs above. I immediately mis-remembered a passage from the guidebook which I wrongly believed stated that the east ridge of Williams Peak was only a third class scramble. It sure looked harder than that, but we figured "What the heck. We'll give it a go."

Soon we were third classing rock that was actually fifth class and beginning to get concerned. Our ropes and hardware were nestled snuggly in our packs as we climbed higher and higher without protection. Finally, I called up "Nick, throw me down a rope."

Nick responded "Not now, I need to concentrate."

"Fair enough" I thought.

A shout of relief and joy soon followed. The end of a rope came into view. "Sorry, I was forced to do a V4 move over the NE Face" Nick, an avid boulder, explained. For the next 500 feet, we stayed roped up, occasionally belaying on the trickier sections. In short order, we were at the top of the our earlier abandoned quest, the June Couloir. We gazed over the edge at the loose final pitch. On cue, a large rock tumbled down the NE face, and crashed into the couloir before rumbling down to the valley below. We felt vindicated.

A stop on the windy summit and a fine glissade of the SE Face brought us back to the trail and safety.


The June Couloir is in the center of Williams Peak. The Redemption Couloir is to the left and so it the East Ridge.


Bombs away! Nick in the lower June Couloir.


The wonderful white Redemption Couloir


The East Ridge didnt look third class.



The top of the June Couloir was full of loose rocks.


Splattski!


Lets go home!

Rocks on hard snow come at you like they've been launched from a cannon, it's one of my least favorite things about spring climbing, congrats on not getting scratched. Great TR and photos, you nailed the shot of Nick in the fifth pic. Nice work!
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Joined: October 31st, 2011, 6:49 pm

June 19th, 2012, 8:41 pm #5

Fifteen minutes after entering the "June Couloir" of Williams Peak, Nick and I knew we were in danger. Cookie sized rocks strafed our heads as we screamed up the soft ice. The size of the falling debris multiplied as the clock struck 9:00. While pondered this, a larger projectile exploded to Nick's right sending dozens of smaller pieces flying in every direction. "Let's bail" we said in unison.

The name "June Couloir" is short for "You-will-likely-die-if-you-try-to-climb-this-on-a-hot-day-in-June Couloir". A warm night in the Sawtooth valley did not help the situation. The route needs to be climbed in sub freezing weather.

Nick and I quickly rappelled 200 feet to distance ourselves from the disintegrating cliff above. "What should we do now?" Plagued by the guilt of wussing out, our gaze turned to an amazing white couloir nearby which had the potential to redeem us from the shame of retreat. We launched ourselves up this safe feature. The Redemption Couloir is east of the June Couloir. It is 40 degrees and capped by a small cornice between two stable rock walls.

After clearing the cornice, we lunched in sunshine and scanned the cliffs above. I immediately mis-remembered a passage from the guidebook which I wrongly believed stated that the east ridge of Williams Peak was only a third class scramble. It sure looked harder than that, but we figured "What the heck. We'll give it a go."

Soon we were third classing rock that was actually fifth class and beginning to get concerned. Our ropes and hardware were nestled snuggly in our packs as we climbed higher and higher without protection. Finally, I called up "Nick, throw me down a rope."

Nick responded "Not now, I need to concentrate."

"Fair enough" I thought.

A shout of relief and joy soon followed. The end of a rope came into view. "Sorry, I was forced to do a V4 move over the NE Face" Nick, an avid boulder, explained. For the next 500 feet, we stayed roped up, occasionally belaying on the trickier sections. In short order, we were at the top of the our earlier abandoned quest, the June Couloir. We gazed over the edge at the loose final pitch. On cue, a large rock tumbled down the NE face, and crashed into the couloir before rumbling down to the valley below. We felt vindicated.

A stop on the windy summit and a fine glissade of the SE Face brought us back to the trail and safety.


The June Couloir is in the center of Williams Peak. The Redemption Couloir is to the left and so it the East Ridge.


Bombs away! Nick in the lower June Couloir.


The wonderful white Redemption Couloir


The East Ridge didnt look third class.



The top of the June Couloir was full of loose rocks.


Splattski!


Lets go home!

The June Couloir has been on my todo list, looks like I'll wait for cold weather! Nice job!
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Joined: October 31st, 2011, 6:49 pm

May 10th, 2013, 2:42 pm #6

Fifteen minutes after entering the "June Couloir" of Williams Peak, Nick and I knew we were in danger. Cookie sized rocks strafed our heads as we screamed up the soft ice. The size of the falling debris multiplied as the clock struck 9:00. While pondered this, a larger projectile exploded to Nick's right sending dozens of smaller pieces flying in every direction. "Let's bail" we said in unison.

The name "June Couloir" is short for "You-will-likely-die-if-you-try-to-climb-this-on-a-hot-day-in-June Couloir". A warm night in the Sawtooth valley did not help the situation. The route needs to be climbed in sub freezing weather.

Nick and I quickly rappelled 200 feet to distance ourselves from the disintegrating cliff above. "What should we do now?" Plagued by the guilt of wussing out, our gaze turned to an amazing white couloir nearby which had the potential to redeem us from the shame of retreat. We launched ourselves up this safe feature. The Redemption Couloir is east of the June Couloir. It is 40 degrees and capped by a small cornice between two stable rock walls.

After clearing the cornice, we lunched in sunshine and scanned the cliffs above. I immediately mis-remembered a passage from the guidebook which I wrongly believed stated that the east ridge of Williams Peak was only a third class scramble. It sure looked harder than that, but we figured "What the heck. We'll give it a go."

Soon we were third classing rock that was actually fifth class and beginning to get concerned. Our ropes and hardware were nestled snuggly in our packs as we climbed higher and higher without protection. Finally, I called up "Nick, throw me down a rope."

Nick responded "Not now, I need to concentrate."

"Fair enough" I thought.

A shout of relief and joy soon followed. The end of a rope came into view. "Sorry, I was forced to do a V4 move over the NE Face" Nick, an avid boulder, explained. For the next 500 feet, we stayed roped up, occasionally belaying on the trickier sections. In short order, we were at the top of the our earlier abandoned quest, the June Couloir. We gazed over the edge at the loose final pitch. On cue, a large rock tumbled down the NE face, and crashed into the couloir before rumbling down to the valley below. We felt vindicated.

A stop on the windy summit and a fine glissade of the SE Face brought us back to the trail and safety.


The June Couloir is in the center of Williams Peak. The Redemption Couloir is to the left and so it the East Ridge.


Bombs away! Nick in the lower June Couloir.


The wonderful white Redemption Couloir


The East Ridge didnt look third class.



The top of the June Couloir was full of loose rocks.


Splattski!


Lets go home!

Weekend before last my friend Troy and I thought we would go have a look at the June Couloir, hoping to find it mostly covered in snow or ice.

This was kind of a last minute adventure, and we were in a rush as we left town late on Saturday evening, which may have contributed to the fact that I made a number of mistakes this weekend. The first was underestimating the Sawtooth Snowpack! While there doesn't seem to be much snow left in the Boise Mountains, or on the south faces of the Lost Rivers until you get up to a high altitude, the Sawtooths are still covered! We neglected to bring skis or snowshoes and paid for it with waist deep postholing all day. At one point we saw a group skiing a beautiful looking Couloir to the north of Williams and I was very jealous of their mode of travel. This definitely influenced my decision to strap the skis on and check out the Super Gully this past weekend.

When we finally managed to slog to the base of the June Couloir we found that it looked like a lot more loose-rock climbing and a lot less snow and ice climbing than we had hoped for. I'd be OK with rock if it was somewhat solid, but didn't have the stomach for what looked to be a steep choss horror-show. That's when I remembered reading this post about the Redemption Couloir and the east ridge. The redemption couloir was all snow all the way up to the ridge, and even had some ski tracks in it. We made short work of the couloir. At the ridge we roped up and climbed 4 or 5 pitches of extremely loose rock. Fortunately the climbing was never very hard, and since we were on a ridge all the loose pieces fell down the sides and not onto my friend Troy who was belaying me. Seems this would have been terrifying to climb unroped, although there wasn't very much good gear anyway . . . Despite the loose rock, the postion and exposure on the ridge were amazing!

All the postholing earlier in the day had taken their toll on the clock, 6pm rolled around when we reached what looked to be the end of the tricky rock, with nothing but an easy snow field separating us from the summit, which still looked several hundred feet away. Somewhere around this time I realized my second (and worst) mistake, in the rush to get our packs together I'd forgotten my headlamp! What a bonehead move that was! The late hour, plust my lack of light, made the decision to skip the summit and start the glissade descent an easy one.

Down we went, glissading in an old avy path. The warm day meant that the snow down lower was very soft and wet, so we couldn't glissade very far. Eventually we were force to resume the heinous postholing, sometimes past our waist, that seemed it would never end. "Thank you sir! May I have another?" During this time I realized my third mistake, no gaiters. I usually dislike them as they tend to make my feet hot, which makes them sweat more. This day, as I typically do, I skipped the real gaiters in favor of the built-in gaiters on my boots. This usually works just fine . . . not today. It didn't take long before I could feel the water sloshing around in my boots with every step. The wet, sloshing, postholing went on and on . . .

Thanks to Idaho's generous daylight hours we managed to make it all the way down out of the worst snow before it got fully dark. Troy had an extra flashlight for me, although it only seemed to work for a few seconds at a time. In the dark, with my flashing flashlight, we stumbled back down the last parts of the trail, then back out Redfish Lake Road toward the car. When we got there we checked the watch: 17:15 car to car. Ouch.

We were exhausted, but both of us had to be at work the next day. We started the drive, electing to go out through Sun Valley with the hopes of finding a restaurant still open for a late dinner. No luck. Gas station food would have to do. We then took turns driving. Each of us sleeping while the other went as far as they could until they could hold their eyes open any more. At which point we would switch. Funny how the most dangerous part of a 17 hour day in the mountains is the drive home. Anyway, we made it. I was in bed by the decent hour of 3:30am.

It was an exhausting but rewarding day!

Trudging uphill in a firmer portion of snow:


Redemption Couloir:


Climbing the couloir:


Me, leading a portion of the ridge:


Troy at one of the belays:


Troy at an exposed step-around:


Troy at a section of downclimbing that led to the final snowfield:

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splattski
splattski

May 10th, 2013, 3:31 pm #7

If you guys keep this up, that ridge will be clear of loose rock in no time!

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Joined: October 31st, 2011, 6:49 pm

May 10th, 2013, 3:37 pm #8

I'm afraid there would be no ridge left! :P
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Joined: March 9th, 2012, 5:43 am

May 10th, 2013, 4:03 pm #9

Fantastic route! Nice work to all!
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Wes
Wes

May 10th, 2013, 4:06 pm #10

Great Trip and Photos. Nice to see that rope out already. Gonna be a great season!
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