an exciting day in the carson pass backcountry

sunday night i got a message asking if i’d like to hit moon couloir the next day. the only tracks that should be there would be another couple of friends known for getting after things early. since i had taken out the pups for the last three days and i had the night off this would be the perfect time to leave them behind and get an un-dog-friendly line. we hit the south carson pass trailhead at 8, and found the cars of the group that would be getting there before us. an hour and a half later we were under round top waiting to see which way the group ahead would go. the two guys we thought we would see had come separate, with one tagging all three couloirs (you can see his bootpacks), and the other leading up this group of four. they went up the main crescent so we opted for the center couloir.
round top

jeffjay heading up the gut of the central couloir. just after this shot the skier started descending the main couloir and he set off a pretty big pocket. greg and i were still close to the intersection as it roared below us sounding like a freight train. we all brought crampons and ice axes, but only used the axes.
round top center couloir

waiting for our turn
round top center couloir

jeffjay drops first
round top center couloir

and does a good job of making it look steep
round top center couloir

it’s more like a blue run really
round top center couloir

anthony is next up to go down
round top center couloir

round top center couloir

then it was my turn to shine. the snow was ideal
round top center couloir

round top center couloir

greg rounded things out for us
round top center couloir

round top center couloir

that’s when things got exciting. jeffjay had skied off far right across some ice to get to a bowl above winnemucca lake, out of our view. i skied over to the left where a friend was sitting (the guy that skied the main couloir was waiting for the rest his group who had opted to hike around to the top of the couloir we had just skied)
i saw greg waiting for me so i skied over towards him and he was yelling about a slide. i came around the corner to this
round top avalanche

fortunately everything was already okay. jeffjay was carried but only partially buried
round top avalanche

the end result was the loss of a pole. hopefully we all gained a little respect for the mountains but…..
round top avalanche

while we sat and enjoyed a beer and discussed what happened anthony headed towards a little fun looking air. the snow got spooky before he could get above the rocks in the top right so he opted for this (i did too, minus the style).
winnemucca lake

while the rest skinned out i headed over to frog lake ridge. looking across the drainage to the west i saw this. our friend that tagged all three couloirs early in the morning got caught up in this on the way out. he too was carried but not buried.
carson pass avalanche

my exit via frog lake ridge took me next to this cornice collapse which i had seen the day before
carson pass avalanche

carson pass avalanche

here’s my pov from the day.

lessons to take home
1. keep your partners in sight. had jeffjay been buried, noone would have seen it happen so we would have been late and not known where to start. plus the face he skied would have made for good photos.
2. keep following bc protocol after the objective. i think we all relaxed perhaps too much after the couloir. the advisory was for low moving to moderate after mid morning and it was 11:30. the face was in the sun on our approach and still in the sun at the time of the event. our guard should have been up rather than down.

required for this tour
crampons, snowboarders likely go with an ice axe while skiers typically perfer a whippet for this tour (although in this case both skiers have axes and both boarders have whippets).
avalanche gear

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