Our crew tends to head for the shady side of the mountain the majority of the time, searching for the cold dry powder stashes. However, when the grass is greening and the leaves are showing themselves, the sunnier aspects can be in great shape if you get up early enough…

Greg boots up the summit of Eagle.

We decided to test our seldom used spring south face tactics on the South Couloir of Eagle peak, first ascended by Hugh Stutfield, solo, in Sept 1898, and therefore also known as  the Stutfield Couloir.  We left town before the light of day, skinned  past the Wheeler Hut and up through the steep trees, and attempted to stick to the summer trail that leads up to the Cascade Amphitheatre.  Just before bridge that crosses Cascade Brook (great view of the gendarme that resembles the head of an Eagle, hence the peaks name) we headed climbers right to cross below the SW ridge and into Overlook  Bowl.  I had only descended this narrow bowl between Eagle and Uto, and had forgotten how steep the rolls are…looking menacing now with a sheen to the well set spring snow that made me think of a 30+ degree skating rink.  Thankful for the ski crampons!

Once we had skittered our way up to the head of the bowl, we were faced with a short steep pitch to gain the bench directly below the S Face.  A 30 cm slab had popped out of the slope in the last couple days, so we booted up the rubble and bed surface, across the bench and up a perfect rib on the climbers left of the couloir.

Yellow=Up, Red=Down Photo courtesy of skimostoke

Perfect bootpackin' up the rib.

Cresting out on to the SW ridge.

As I kicked the final firm steps up to the summit ridge I wondered how long we should wait for the slope to soften up a bit more.  After a 40 min break on the summit and a little debate about whether the headwall of Overlook bowl might be a touch softer than our intended couloir, we stuck with plan A and skied down the ridge to the top of the couloir.  It worked out well, a few centimeters of nice, sun softened snow. Good skiing down the top half of the gully feature, then a hard right out onto the rib we had climbed up.

Greg rippin' the rib.

Unfortunately the tilted  ice sheets in the bowl itself had yet to see any of the suns rays, making for some scratchy skiing.  Further down, we chose to exit Overlook Bowl directly down the gully as opposed to following our ascent route.  This worked out OK, definitely getting soft down low.  The track back to the parking was fast, and we were back in town by 2pm.  Spring skiing is all about timing, you can bag south faces with an early start, but the percentage of good skiing to bad is questionable… Great line though with outstanding views of Sir Donald and Uto though!

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