The Zipper on Lane Peak

The two of us in the couloir

The two of us in the couloir

As a first steep snow climb for Erica, this was a great objective—low commitment, short approach, awesome scenery, and just enough steepness to make it interesting. We left Seattle at 6am and hit Longmire just around 8am when the gate was scheduled to open. We geared up quickly and were moving by 8:30am or so, heading up the steep slope to the closed Stevens Canyon Road, which we followed until the bend and then left for a tromp through the woods, across the meadow, over a tenuous snow bridge across the Tatoosh Creek, and to the base of the climb at about 9:30am to gear up.

Since this was her first steeper snow climb, we short roped together and then hit the entry fan just after a party of two and a soloist, so we got a nice boot pack to follow. The party of two was headed for The Fly, so it was just us and our new friend James. We broke out a second tool at the entrance to the couloir and then headed up on snow that varied between firm and a bit sloppy, but it was never concerning and always secure. Coverage was excellent and no technical moves were needed. We poked out into the sun at the top of the couloir at 10:45am and quickly determined that the South-facing slope was not stable or safe, so we quickly headed down the descent route without bothering to tag the summit—it just wasn't worth the risk.

I was worried that we'd post hole terribly on the way back out, but the conditions stayed good for booting and we were back at the car eating lunch and having some celebratory beers by 12:30pm. A great intro climb for Erica and a nice day to be out in the park.