On Friday morning a group of us headed out to enjoy the foot of fresh snow that had fallen the previous day and night. Our goal was the “Town Couloir”, a steep and narrow couloir that cuts through tall cliffs all the way to the bottom of the Ouray valley. This lower altitude line is rarely in good shape, but heavy snowfalls this season have filled it in nicely.
The bluebird skies and fresh snow had me excited to ride, but as we neared the steeper slopes at the top, we became concerned about the avalanche potential. The foot of fresh snow was sitting on top of an older layer of crusty sunbaked snow. Though the top layer seemed pretty cohesive, the terrain above the entrance to the couloir is like a huge funnel into the narrow choke, so any slide would have disastrous results. After a brief discussion, we decided to do the responsible thing and turn back. We skiied/rode down the flat traversing route that we hiked up… all in all a supremely crappy run.
Even though I always hate turning back, it’s reassuring to know that my partners and I have the ability to do so.