Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ellingwood Couloir Middle Teton

I really wanted to get another big day of skiing before the summer kicked into full swing. I found two partners my photographer friend Johnathan (he took the pics) and Chris Kroeger a awesome ski mountaineer. We left the trailhead at 4 in the morning skis on our back and hiking shoes on our feet. I felt like I was going back packing not skiing due to the heavy pack, but I figured it was great training for climbing this summer. We hiked in our shoes for about 2 hours until we reached the mouth of Garnet Canyon we got a little lost because there was so much snow, it was hard to tell where the trail was. I had tried to put my skins on to early and the warm temperatures made it very difficult for my skins to stay on my skis, so I had to boot pack all the way to the bottom of the Ellingwood. It only took us about another hour to reach the bottom of the couloir. Looking up at it, it did not look great there was a huge runnel down the center of it from the warm temps. Skiers right looked skiable though, so we decided to give it a try. We put on our crampons and started up the right side of the couloir it definitely was a lot steeper than it looked. The couloir was probably about 1000 feet long and a consistent pitch of 55 degrees, most the way up it was soft ice which was perfect for crampons and a ice axe. It was definitely a hard climb because of the elevation and the continual pitch. I followed Kroeger up the entire way and we finally made it to the top in about an hour and thirty minutes. I was so excited to ski down, it was definitely the steepest and most consistent descent I have ever done. I went first and just took my time because there was a lot of slough which made it very challenging to ski. It was nice and soft and easy to carve turns, so fun. I made it to the bottom safe and sound and totally was stoked the climb up and the ski down were such a rush! I can't to ski more in the Tetons.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Attempting to ski in the Tetons

The weather has been really funky lately, lots of rain and warm temps. There is still a ton of snow in the mountains, but the snow has not been setting up great for spring skiing. A couple of my friends and I attempted to ski the Sliver a sweet couloir on Nez Perce. We did not start early enough or the snow did not freeze, because as soon as we started to skin up the ridge of Shadow Peak snow started piling up on our skins. We tried to stop and put some wax so hopefully the snow would not stick. It only worked for about 10 minutes at a time. I felt like I was walking on stilts that weighed a 100 pounds. We finally made it to the top of Shadow after about 4 hours of skinning. We still had not gotten to the bottom of the Sliver and were exhausted from the first part of our skin. We decided to turn around because it was already 1230 and temperatures were only getting warmer. The views from the top of Shadow were still pretty amazing on one side you had the Grand Teton and Teewinot and on the other you had Buck and Wister. We had some pretty decent skiing half way down and then it became rotten wet snow. Not getting to the tope of the Sliver is frustrating, but now I want to go back and get it hopefully soon.
Two days later my friend hannah and I decided to get up early and go for Wimpys which is just a small sub peak, but is a great long run with a good pitch. It kind of reminds me of the Hobacks at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. We timed it perfectly and had no problems with snow sticking to our skins. We reached the top around 9:40 am it was so calm and quiet and we had amazing views of the Grand, Buck and Static Peak. We just took some time to enjoy the warm sunny day! We then skied awesome corn snow. I hope I will be able to have some bigger days in the Tetons soon!