A lot of hard work goes into getting a big first descent. Certified ACMG Guide Christina Lustenberger, or “Lusti,” knows this as well as any pioneering backcountry skier, and the work she did along with fellow skiers and guides Johanna Stalnacke and Tom Grant to nab the first descent of the Black Friar Couloir worked out well.
“When the Black Crows team decided to come to B.C. for a spring ski trip, my hopes of stars aligning weighted my shoulders,” Lusti wrote in an email. “To get lucky with a weather and stability window is just the luck of the draw really. With the ever changing season and weather patterns its only a guess as to when might be a great time for some big objective skiing.”
It took the crew two days of waiting just to get to this zone in the Adamant Range of British Columbia. After a recon ski mission and some drone scoping, the crew pulled the trigger and went for it.
“The snow in the line felt good to climb, and we moved efficiently on the steep snow,” she says. “Three-quarters of the way up we reached the 60-degree ice bulge and went from boot pack to swinging both ice tools and soloing the 15-20 meters of ice. Above the ice the snow was feeling good again and we managed to top the line for a quick transition.”
“In my head I convinced myself I could ski over the ice pitch without using a rope. Dropping into the line with a few ski cuts, I skied the top pitch watching my slough and feeling the snow in the line. I arrived at the ice and scratched my way over the section. Excited to drop into the rest of the line, I could let it go and have fun with the rest of the line.”
The first descent of the Black Friar challenged Lusti, as well as her partners Stalnacke and Grant, both in terms of climbing and skiing. But, as Lusti claims ever-so-perfectly, “Its rewarding to be pushed and feel the purpose of the training you have acquired.”
Watch more: Christina Lustenberger Descends the Black Friar