Between a rock and a hard place is a pretty good description of the Terminal Cancer Couloir, except the connotation of the phrase is opposite the experience of skiing this unique line. Rumor has it that the two founders of Ruby Mountain Heli Skiing saw the line back in the days of skinny 210 skis and one said, “I wouldn’t ski that thing even if I had terminal cancer!” They skied it the next day!
One thing I’ve come to love throughout the years of backcountry skiing, is the phenomenal places you find yourself. True, with hiking and traveling in general, there are moments when the landscape truly envelops you and the scene blows your mind. But, add the experience of skiing in such a moment and it’s a sensation unparalleled. Couloir skiing is all about finding long lines of snow isolated between two rock walls. The Terminal Cancer Couloir is unique in its consistent length, width and pitch. Yesterday was perhaps the most unique skiing experience I’ve had thus far.
It’s said that a good story needs confict, however, ours has none: I slept in the back of my van; we met at the trailhead at dawn; the road had yet to be plowed so our hike in would be four miles longer; up, up, up the couloir we went switching from skins to bootpacking and then back to skins again; lunch on top; and an amazing descent in new, soft, powder. Regarding backcountry skiing, no conflict is good conflict; it simply means you had a great day, in a great place, with great friends.