Ice Mountain: Refrigerator Couloir Ski

Partners: Matt Kamper, Frank and Brittany Konsella, Jarrett Luttrell
Route: Ascent of Ice Mountain’s Refrigerator Couloir from Winfield, ski descent of ascent route
Numbers: 3,800′ climbed, 2,100′ skied, 12 miles, 10 hours RT

Photo courtesy of Jarrett Luttrel.

I drove my car as far as I could past Winfield in the pre-dawn hours of what would turn into an awesome spring day. Parking at a camp site about half a mile in, I shouldered my setup and began trudging up the dirt road towards the standard summer TH for Huron. Eventually I came to a clearing, where Matt, Frank, Brittany, and Jarrett had camped for the night. I was apparently just on time, as they were just throwing their packs on to begin the day. It was good to see Frank and Brittany again, and this was my first time getting out with Jarrett. Past the upper-parking lot we eventually broke off Huron’s standard route, and continued up towards the base of Ice. We spent a long time bushwacking in the woods as we had somehow missed the trial we wanted to be on.

Trying to solve our navigation error. Photo by Matt.

After a lot of toiling in the woods, we finally broke treeline and found ourselves staring at the huge cirque below Ice Mountain and the other Apostles. The Refrigerator was around the corner.

Photo by Brittany.

Unfortunately my camera decided it had finally had it, after one last photo, it was completely dead. Most of these shots are courtesy of Frank and Brittany.

Photo by Brittany.

The snow was marginal at best, it was clear the area had not received a great freeze the night before. At times we were postholing up to our waists. Some in the group chose to boot pack the lower-face, Jarrett and I were content to skin up to the mouth of the couloir.

In the couloir proper, getting steeper. Photo by Brittany.

About a hundred feet from the top of the Refrigerator, the couloir jaunts climber’s left over a wind lip. This is the steepest section of the route, probably around 55 degrees if not more. Above this lip is a hundred or so feet of steep climbing.

Frank. Photo by Matt.

Brittany and Jarrett nearing the top. Photo by Matt.

Once atop the couloir, we dropped our skis and began scrambling to the summit.

The remaining route to the summit, Frank and I are on top. Photo by Brittany.

Jarrett. Photo by Matt.

After climbing back down, we clicked in and peered over the edge of what was sure to be a thrilling descent. The top turns were the steepest, a fall here would put you over a decent sized cliff band.

The top portion was thrilling. Photo by Brittany.

Once over the wind lip and into the main chute, the nerves let up a little bit. The snow through here was super slushy, and at certain points in the couloir your skis would threaten to hit rock on either side. This is a narrow chute this time of year.

Below the double fall line crux. Photo by Frank.

Photo by Matt.

This shot shows the nature of the couloir well. Photo by Brittany.

A perspective from Frank’s helmet.

Photo by Frank.

Matt skiing out the apron. Photo by Brittany.

Lower down, we had fun skiing through a narrow side chute that we didn’t see on the way up.

Matt making an interesting turn. Photo by Frank.

We skied out the remaining snow before putting trail shoes back on. Getting out was a bit of a slog.

Photo by Brittany.

Four fifths of the crew. Photo by Brittany.

Ten hours after we set off, we hit the parking lot. Lawn chairs, beer, and sandals made for a nice afternoon at the Huron TH. After that we headed into Buena Vista for a burger before parting ways. This was a fun day on a classic 13er route, thanks Matt, Brittany, Frank, and Jarrett for having me along!

A look at the line from lower down. Photo by Brittany.

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