View Full Version : Winter in the Great Gulf

11-25-2008, 12:26 AM
Hey all,
I am wondering if anyone has some winter experience in the great gulf. I'm planning a trip for sometime in December or January, and I'm looking for something pretty challenging but not technical. I've been in there once in winter (up buttress trail), and been up the most of the presis in winter, and feel comfortable with all aspects of winter alpine travel except making completely independent assessments of snow stability. The aspects of some of these areas are pretty similar to some of the tucks and huntington gullies, but don't seem quite as steep so would probably load differently.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has been up the sphinx trail, the six husbands trail (is this technical in winter? is there water ice or just very steep snow?), or the buttress trail when there's a decent amount of snow. Do any of these cross known avalanche paths?

Particular areas of concern: Buttress trail-The traverse next to star lake on looks like it might be on or around a start zone, but it seems like I could just stay to the ridge to get up adams and not come across the shoulder.

Six Husbands: The lower part, right when you come out of treeline, looks like it might be something. Then you get on the ridgeline, which is quite steep and exposed, but seems pretty avy safe.

Edmonds Cutoff area: seems to go above a start zone, but looks like it might be safer to go up a contour line or two and then cut across.

The Sphinx Trail: The bottom part is real steep, but pretty narrow, in the trees and looks alright. as you come out above treeline, it looks like it might cross a slide path, but might actually be in a relatively safe spot. I might be misreading the map though, and would be quite cautious because it is in a ravine.

I'm looking for a few day trip, either setting up a base camp in around the six husbands/buttress intersection or doing a bivy on our way up to the perch.

I would really appreciate any info that anyone has; I've spent a lot of time in this area in the summer and fall, but not enough in winter and am itching to get in there. I know conditions will vary greatly from day to day, but I'm looking for a baseline to go from.


KD Talbot
11-25-2008, 04:25 PM
a good place to ask questions, but there aren't too many on this forum with the kind of experience you're looking for. There may be a few who'll chime in. For answers to questions like these I would direct you elsewhere. Start here:


Then here:


And here:


Sorry, best I can do.


Bill O
11-26-2008, 09:09 AM
I don't know much about the Great Gulf. I've spent plenty of time staring into it, but have only made a few forays into the upper end via Airplane Gully.

Avalanche activity is always a concern, but at your skill level you should be able to identify what is dangerous. The major avalanche concerns in the GG are the steep gullies. I just haven't seen that much activity on the open slopes above treeline. Lack of steepness and more scouring than loading seem to be the major players. But, obviously there are slopes that are steep enough and will load with the right winds and/or snow year. Last year being a good example of new and extreme avalanche activity in places that haven't been hit for decades.

11-26-2008, 11:27 AM
I'm going to jump in, even though this is my first post...for those questions, I would head over to Views From the Top (http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/index-vftt.html) forum. I just did a quick search on your areas in question, and found posts on all of them.

You can search there without being a member - if you'd like to join, you'll need a sponsor - let me know if you'd like to.


11-26-2008, 09:10 PM
Hey all,
thanks for those tips. they're all helpful! I've been checking out VFFT and it definitely looks like there's some good info there. I can't wait to get out there... It's one of my favorite spots in summer and it's pretty darn nice in winter too. Only gets a little cold on still nights...