7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
With temps starting to rise next week, and no new snow, it looked like this was our last chance to hit a N facing couloir before the snow is ruined.
As always the drive to Hospental was long, and I was questioning the decision! On arrival the parking was full! but what luck, and early bird had vacated their sport right at the barrier! We started skinning about 11 - it felt very late.
The road was well covered though and the track up the steep slopes away from the Gottard Pass were in great condition, so we made great progress.
We stopped for lunch at a sunny and snow free knoll, with a fine view of the couloir - which looked straight and quite mellow, aside from the entrance.
However, the snow we were skinning on was very hard and not suited for steeps...
but we pressed on.
From the col up the SE ridge, there was little snow.
we were mainly scrambling over grass and talus on a 40 plus slope.
No need for crampons - and certainly no need for a rope and gear that I had brought (online description said grade II climbing - not true).
from the summit it was an easy down climb of 10 m to close the the saddle (in retrospect better to ski, but I wanted to test the snow).
The couloir looked magnificent.
There were 2 tracks leading into it, probably from the morning, which gave us hope.
Skis on and dropping in - great grippy snow.
Chalky powder and largely predictable.
Felt skiable and stable.
Enough that I had no hesitation to make turns on the initial 50 deg pitch (15m only).
As did Lara.
From there on it was 45 and then 40, with quality snow allowing for fast linked turns - with regular stops for photos and contemplation of the excellent conditions.
We contemplated taking in another peak, but decided best to get home a.
Truly the start of spring.
A short but fantastic day out!