Korenge Couloirs and Karamatsu South Face

On 14th March, Conor, Pat, Johnny and myself set out to try to climb Shiroumadake with an eye on skiing the central south facing couloir running off the summit.


Unfortunately for us, the winds at ridge top were again intense and we decided after reaching Korenge that walking for several more hours at ridge top above 2500m and up to 2900m was going to be difficult. The Shiroumadake couloir will need to wait for another day. As we were on Korenge, some of the group dropped the Y couloir from the summit and I and Pat who had already skied the Y recently, decided to drop the wide-couloir skiers left of the summit.

Korenge South face
Joel hiking up to the top of Korenge in the wind
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On the 15th March I was pretty tired from several long days of touring and an uncertain weather forecast saw Mel and I attempt to ski the South face of Karamatsudake.

Joel hiking up Karamatsu Ridge – Karamatsu summit on the right
Mel on the summit of Karamatsudake

Joel scoping the south face

The line itself was great, open face to broad valley until the last 500 or so metres of the creek where avalanche debris and a rowinrowing valley (trending gorge) made for difficult and uncertain travel. The super warm temperatures lead to an uneasy feeling being in a terrain trap of a valley with small wet slides coming down from unseen slopes above and hitting the massive debris piles from the last few days / last rain event.

Mel snowboarding down the south face of Karamatsu
Joel at the constriction mid-south face
Mel walking over the debris
Debris and warm sunny faces… Joel walking through debris

After the above photo the river valley constricted severely into a gorge near the end where it runs into the normal valley exit from the north side of Goryu. Unfortunately, the gorge isn’t passable on skis and we needed to climb up and over the ridge spur (about 30m vertical) to get around.

Climbing out of the gorge exit

Once up above the river/cliffs, we had to get down. The snow on these steep faces had slipped down exposing the rock/grass slopes below and we had to do a short rappel from a tree to get down safely. Luckily, we had a short rope and gear to make this all happen.

Mel finally out of the valley after a short rappel down avoiding the cliff face behind

After that you join the usual Goryu north side exit along the road back to Hakuba 47 and Corona and Quesadillas at the base area. Some more rain is forecast for tonight into tomorrow with the possibility of snow and colder temps. Will have to wait to see what Saturday will bring.

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