Grr Couloir is a line I’ve been wanting to ski ever since I first noticed when I was up Rock Canyon in the winter in 2019. It’s one of the longest, most consistent couloirs in the Wasatch, and super beautiful with views all the way to the valley, and if timed right, it has some grrreat skiing. The problem is that it averages around a 35 degrees and is South West facing, so finding a good day of skiing with good stability is difficult.
After snow on Saturday night, and mostly cloud cover Sunday, and a little bit of snow Monday morning, we were hoping it would be a good day to go check off this incredible line.
We knew that if the sun came out too much, we would likely have to turn around, do to the increased likelihood of a wet loose avalanche caused by the warming of the sun, and we were extra cautions with checking snow stability.
At 11:30 we started skinning from the Rock Canyon parking lot. It’s a long approach, around 4 miles. You go skin up and through the campground to the dirt road, and then along the dirt road for a bit until you get to the base of the Avalanche path. At this point we went up too early and had to cut across and over in to Grr, which was reasonable, but it could be better to go to the second Avalanche run out and then skin straight up into the Couloir.
While cutting across into Grr, we came across several inches of graupel that must of fallen the day before. This makes a super weak layer and was rally concerning to see. We kept skinning up into the cliffs and dug a pit. Here there was no graupel and it was mostly stable. No clean sheers with the Extended Column Test, and only a little bit of give on hit number 8 with the forearm.
We kept going, and then ran into the graupel layer right by the choke again. We made a couple of kick turns and the corners would give out. We didn’t feel good about going higher so we transitioned and skied to the bottom. The turns were heavy, but really fun. We still had quite a bit of time, so we transitioned and went back up.
After skiing through the graupel and having no propagation, we felt comfortable continuing the ascent. So we made it most of the way up the couloir before running out of time and needing to turn back. We were being extra cautious the whole way up and paying a lot of attention to how the snow was reacting under our feet. We were also frequently jumping on the kick turns to see how the snow was responding. There were small signs of instability, but it felt safe enough. There were no clean slabs, and no real propagation.
We found a cool spot between two rocks to start the descent and our expectations were exceeded. The skiing felt way better than expected after skinning up. It was deep and soft, but not super consistent. Regardless, skiing this epic line with good snow was a big win.
It was a long ski down over 5 miles. The couloir was amazing and long, and just kept going. The worst part is the road between the bottom of Grr and Rock Canyon. We definitely got our upper body workout in with how much we had to push.
And then you have a long fun descent down Rock Canyon. I’ve skied Rock Canyon a number of times, but skiing it with John was probably my favorite. There was plenty of soft snow on the sides, and so we felt comfortable going as fast as we could because slowing down was easy. So we ended up getting miles and miles of excellent skiing, and we got to check off an incredible line! We’ll probably be back soon so we can actually go to the top, but I’m satisfied to have been in the couloir with good snow.