Minturn Couloir aka The Buttcrack WI2-3+ 3/9/2017 – Full On Classic

I moved to Colorado about 24 years ago and I love this amazing place. I share my adventures so that others will see how amazing it is and hopefully be inspired to have some of their own. I love the whole state and have gotten around to lots of zones. That first winter I scored a deal on a day at Vail and headed over for a fun day of skiing. Afterwards I had some friends that I wanted to visit in Leadville. On the way over Tennessee Pass I saw this line for the first time and I was so stoked on it and I’ve wanted to ski it ever since. Timing just seemed to work and with the snowpack being what it is the year why not give it a go.

I needed to be done for a show at the Haute Rout in Avon so I picked up Pat Gephart in Breck at 9. I love the west facing lines; they demand you sleep in. This classic line has a bit of info about it on the web but I wasn’t sure how long the ropes needed to be so we brought two 60m half ropes. We made for Minturn after a stop for coffee and a stop at Weston headquarters. We got back on the highway and headed a short way south out of town. The road twists around a few switchbacks and we parked, it was the wrong spot so we went back to the corner and parked. We geared up and discussed the route and the gear we might need.

Up the creek bed we went having a tough time ascending almost immediately. We came across an old track and new we were on the right track. The wind blown snow on top of the paths debris was difficult to deal with. We eventually gave up the skins and just booted the couloir. We made it and set up a nice belay anchor to climbers right of the first crux; two smallish nuts equalized. The first crux was almost exactly 30 meters. The tree anchor at the top was stout. From there we booted off belay to the next crux/belay station. The anchor here was a little dicey. I ended up using a ski deadman and a shaft-plunged axe equalized; pretty sure it would have held. The second crux was pretty easy. The third crux was WI3+ but only for a couple moves. this was about 55m and the tree belay is also stout; both have web anchors with rap rings. From there we booted up the couloir to the runnel at the top and a slot that’s too narrow to ski.

The snow as variable to say the least. The skier’s left was usually the best but it was very wind affected. We rapped twice to speed up our descent so we wouldn’t be late for the show. It was a tough day but really satisfying to go get this done after lusting after it for so many years. Thanks for a great tour Pat. Looking forward to the next one.

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