Originally Posted by paul jones
Bob, tell me about S&S Couloir. Can you ski it? Looks pretty radical!
I have known about Corbet's for years and wonder if I could ski it. The pictures make it look tough, but many have, which means I could. How hard is it?
It's not hard at all this year because it's still closed.
There are several big rocks in the gut of the chute about 100' below the entrance. They're known as "Indicator Rocks" because Corbet's doesn't open until the indicator rocks are covered. They are not yet covered this year.
Most pictures of Corbet's look tough because most of the time it *is* tough. In some circles, it's kind of fashionable to pooh-pooh Corbet's because it's too "easy" for some of the big-timers. Well, almost every time I've done it my heart rate has about tripled so I don't fall in the big-timer category.
Doing Corbet's is really about timing. If you're lucky enough to be one of the first to ski it after a big storm with southwest winds, it actually can be fairly easy and even forgiving. If you're not one of the first few dozen after a storm, however, the primary landing zone becomes a rock-hard impact crater that's not at all user-friendly. From then until the next storm, you'll want your DIN's up, your p-tex down, and a lot of luck on the landing.
There's kind of an interesting thing that's developed over the last few years. Somehow or other, people have been able to establish these narrow, descending ledges down the main face of the entrance. With a little luck (and a lot of fingernails), skiers have been able to sort of sidestep down the face until most of the drop is above them and then make turns into the chute itself. That's "skiing" Corbet's too, although the process looks dicier to me than just jumping off in a leap of faith.
I found this photo that I think gives a pretty good feel for what the entrance "normally" looks like in a "normal" year (if there really is such a thing as a normal year):
So, yes it's quite skiable and yes, it's usually pretty difficult.
S&S is another matter entirely. It's a 30-35' drop from a very tiny takeoff point. You land on a sidehill that slopes very steeply right, ending in a vertical rock wall if you were to make a mistake and turn too far right. S&S is permanently closed and only open in near-perfect conditions and with the permission of the ski patrol. Permission is not easily given.
While standing at the top of Corbet's is intimidating, standing at the entrance to S&S feels flat-out stupid.
I couldn't find a good photo of S&S offhand. I'll have to look a little more.