Mount Langley 14,042′ Northeast Couloir 5/3/2017 – These Mountains Are Big

After getting on the road late I drove thru the night. Even though I cleaned out my car pretty well Utah kind of freaks me out. I made it almost to Ely, NV at 4am and pulled over to get some shut eye. I slept in the front seat till about 10 and then got back on the road for the rest of my drive. I’d never driven that way before so it was cool to check out some peaks I’ve been thinking about, like Currant and Troy. Tonopah to Cali was familiar and the Whites looked stacked on the east side. My target of Boundary North may still be possible but the lower canyon mouth looks spicy. White from the west and from the bristlecone road doesn’t look possible; no snow and too much snow. So before I even really arrive, it’s time to start messing with the schedule, that’s just the way it is. After a quick visit to Mammoth Mountain Supply for local beta I headed south with the plan of Langley for the Northeast Couloir via Tuttle Creek.

I got to the trailhead by the Tuttle Creek Road which was super tippy. In the dark on the way in it was downright scary, I couldn’t tell how serious it was and felt like I got a wheel off the ground a couple times. After getting the back of the truck ready for sleeping and mostly packing the bag for the next day I got to sleep around 11; the alarm went off way too soon. I spent most of the night tossing and turning because it was so warm. In the a.m. I wondered if it had froze enough and if I was too late. Well you never know till you go.

After a quick chat with another group from Salt Lake that arrived after me, in the dark, I headed up the trail at 5:42am. I wasn’t sure if this was too late for a 7,200′ day but it was only about 4 miles to the summit so I figured I’d be OK. I bade decent time to the creek crossing that leads to the cool cabin. I blew off the trail here and did an ascending contour on the south side of Tuttle Creek. This got a little spicy and once I found another good crossing the wasn’t too willowy I opted to rejoin the trail. This saved me at least a mile. Once back on the trail the going got easier. By easier I mean it was tough, loose and steep but at least I wasn’t bushwhacking and I could make better time. From here I headed up to the snow and really started to make good time. The line finally came into view and it had me questioning where I was. I figured I was in the right spot because of all the ski tracks but a ridge in front of the line had me thinking the line didn’t go thru. the further I got though I realized all was good and I headed for the summit. Near the top of the chute a small cornice break started a small wet slide but this wasn’t on the aspect I was on so all seemed fine. I got to the South Summit and dropped the pack and headed over to the higher norther summit and snapped some pics. It was a tough ascent and I had run out of water. I still had plenty of food though but I feel I bonked a little. I haven’t had to count steps in while.

I dropped in and skied the margin of the steep entrance, cautious at first then I let them go a little. The snow was a bit wet at the top and I didn’t want to get anything moving, especially not knowing the history of the zone. The skier’s right side of the couloir was where to be with perfect corn. This is a really amazing line that just seems to go on forever. It’ a high alpine cruiser with rock walls. It was so much fun to turn the skis loose and the Scarpa F1 paired with the RMU La Cabra was a perfect set up for this route. I skied it all then to, and past where I left my shoes. I filled up the platypus and got back to the trail. On the descent I started to get some pain the old IT band. The tendinitis was barking so I decided to make today a day off to get it back where it should be. This is normal after such a big day.

Such a fun mountain. It felt like being in a carbon copy place. The trees were all different. The place smells different. The forest floor looks different. The mountains are bigger. But at the heart of it, it’s all the same, it’s all skiing and a life of ascension for the reward of descension.

Leave a Reply