Chief Joseph Loop

I gained the Chief Joseph ridge on the far far left, traversed up and over the summit, dropped into the upper chute which put me at the bottom of the lower chute, booted and skied the lower chute, then traversed the bottom to the left

I gained the Chief Joseph ridge on the far far left, traversed up and over the summit, dropped into the upper chute which put me at the bottom of the lower chute, booted and skied the lower chute, then traversed the bottom to the left. Whew, follow me?

Chief Joseph doesn’t have a shortage of chutes but these two in particular have been on my mind ever since I first visited this area. To make matters worse, Chief Joseph is visible from pretty much anywhere in the Joseph/Enterprise area, we have a good view of it from our house, and during the summer I get to stare at it for a good 20 minutes everyday coming home from work. To say that Joe haunts me is an understatement. The stars aligned today and I had a chance to see what these lines are all about up close.

Closer look at the coolies

Closer look at the coolies

I don’t know if these have names, or what the ridge they’re on is called. I’ve just been referring to them as the upper and lower couloirs.

I hiked up in hiking boots until 7000′, stashed the boots and continued on with skins. Once on the ridge I kept looking for mountain goats. Their tracks were all over the place but I never saw one the whole day. Pretty bummed about that. The views were good though.

Looking up the West Fork of the Wallowa River

Looking up the West Fork of the Wallowa River

Sacajawea Peak's North Face

Sacajawea Peak’s North Face

The town of Joseph on left, Wallowa Lake on the right

The town of Joseph on left, Wallowa Lake on the right

The morning’s coolness and light wind kept the snow hard and me cool, allowing quick travel across The Chief’s ridge. I took some time to scout the upper couloir’s entrance to make sure I had the right one and wouldn’t be getting cliffed out anywhere. One of the reasons I like to climb what I ski.

In the Upper Couloir proper. Great powder snow in here

In the Upper Couloir proper. Great powder snow in here

Looking back at the line and tracks. Awesome turns, all 2000' of 'em

Looking back at the line and tracks. Awesome turns, all 2000′ of ’em

One quality line down, one to go. I continued to ski the bowl down right to the base of the lower coolie. By now the sun was out in full force and with Chief Joe blocking the wind, it was starting to get warm. I quickly started booting up the Lower.

It always amazes me how different things look when you’re up close. The Lower was much bigger than I thought, you could drive a bus through it. Found powder in this one also.

Looking down the Lower couloir. Another awesome run

Looking down the Lower couloir. Another awesome run

I was stoked after two great runs and started the long but leisurely hike out.

8000 vertical feet climbed, 13 miles round trip, 9 1/2 hours car to car.

JoeTracks

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