Tuesday, May 7, 2019

O'Malley - 5.6.2019

On the way home home from the Ramp the other day, we skinned under the impossibly steep north face of O'Malley. Craning our necks back we looked up at the lines snaking thru the face. Exposed and skinny, I made a pact with myself not to touch them. Within a week, I was dreaming about the Lightning Bolt couloir:


I snuck out of work at 4:00 and 30 minutes later was running down the Powerline Pass trail in my ski boots. Although it continues to dump up high, the snow is quickly disappearing on the approaches.


Within an hour and a half the approach across the Ballfield and down the obnoxious scree to Black Lake was done with. Looking up, it was hard to imagine that a continuous line was there.


The apron was surprisingly long, and I was able to skin all the way to the first rock choke. About half the vertical of the face was already done.


At this point I stashed my skins under a rock, put on my ascent plates and climbed towards the choke. I had hoped that the face would be protected from the strong winds that had wrecked me on the ballfield, but no such luck. As the winds pounded the face, constant slough channeled down the chute. Tucking into the overhung rock of the choke was like a cave behind a waterfall. I waited for a break in the deluge and zipped up the choke.


Fortunately, the winds were actually blowing up the face; at the price of a frosty butt I had a free assist up.


Its been forever since I've actually remembered my Verts. Usually preferring to leave them at home in favor of threatening to bring them, wallowing, and wishing I had them. It was nice to have them, the climb flew by.


Less than three and a half hours after leaving work I was tucked behind a rock at the top and transitioning for the ski down. The cyclone had increased to an almost intolerable level, and I was careful to hold onto my backpack and skis as I tried not to get blown into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, I briefly let go of my aluminum crampons and they instantly levitated and disappeared into the abyss. Seems I should stick to heavy steel crampons.


Concerned about concentrating slough volume in the steep and confined terrain, I worked my way slowly down the face. At this point I was beginning to regret not bringing goggles as the wind that had been so helpful on the way up was not busy packing my sunglasses with snow. Ouch.


With the exception of one section of death cookies, the snow was soft - more than one should ask for in the Front Range! Once above the bottom choke, I traversed right and skied around some benches back to my stashed skins.


Then I ripped hot pow to the lake where I sat on my backpack to eat pizza dinner. It reminded me of the last time I sat on my backpack and triggered my InReach. That one was stressful for my poor mom. Wading up the loose scree to the Ballfield went quickly and I was soon coasting back towards the car.


Less than five hours after leaving the parking lot, I was back at Glen Alps and on my way home in my driving boots.


This line was OK; it was fine to ski it once, but definitely won't become a go-to. With foreshortening it looks quite dramatic, but its pretty short and not that steep - much like the Thin White Line. And, of course, it has a particularly bad beers-to-skulls ratio due to skiing over cliffs. Ptarmigan's S Couloir remains my favorite after work coolie.

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