TRIP REPORT: Checkered Demon Couloir
Last week my partner and I took advantage of a cold snap to climb Checkered Demon Couloir. Checkered demon peak is on the Bishop skyline and the couloir is hidden on the right side. It had been on our list for a few years. Chasing snow & ice in the Sierra Nevada is an ephemeral hobby.
We started at the parking for Mt Humphries at 5:45 am. We were at the base of the couloir in under 2 hours. Climbing Couloirs is not a leisurely sport. It’s probably the most dangerous thing I do in the mountains. Couloirs are inherently narrow steep and full of rockfall. The expansion of freeze-thaw and sun tends to increase the chance of rocks cutting loose. High winds can also knock rocks free. This particular couloir is extra spicy because the surrounding mountain is made of terrible rock (loose broken shale & dolomite-not granite).
Having low wind, cold, speed, and early starts are some things I do to mitigate risk. We nailed the speed part. Climbed the ~1400 feet of 60-degree névé in 1.5hours! My hands and toes were quite cold by the top. The wind was stronger out of the narrow couloir and we quickly layered up tagged the final summit and descending the sandy backside of the mountain back to the car.
3,821ft of gain in 5 hour 45min. We were home in time for lunch!
Climbing Clouloirs is dangerous!!! The day after we did this climb a very experienced climber died on the Mt Humphreys Couloir. Be safe out there.