Monday, June 27, 2011

Middle Teton Glacier Route!

First light on East Face (click on photo for view of the top of route)

The last couple weeks have been tough conditions in the Tetons and I have had great skiing, but have gotten skunked on being able to ski the routes that I wanted to ski from the top. Yesterday that all changed when my friend Redbeard and I headed up Garnet Canyon attempting to ski The Middle Teton Glacier Route from the summit of the Middle. Heading up the snow felt pretty firm and we were more concerned about the Face not softening up. The Route has a lot of exposure right off the summit so skiing in rock hard conditions was a little intimidating. As we booted up the South West Couloir the snow was incredibly firm, so we did not know what to expect. Our route had been in the sun for about 2 hours so I was hopeful.

As we crested over the top the sun hit us and there was amazing views of the Grand and the South Teton. There were parties on the South and Grand summits getting ready to ski. Watching the person ski the Grand was pretty amazing from the Middle, as I looked over the East Face I got a little nervous. I could not see the exposure but knew it was there. These mountains are always so humbling to ones skiing ability, big and exposed! I clicked in, tapped the summit marker and then made my way across the narrow ramp facing the grand. Redbeard entered in first and made two beautiful corn turns above the large exposed face. As I dropped in I had two great turns and then cut right towards the south. The exposure was not over we had to cut across a ramp and then there was a quick side step drop-in above the Middle glacier. We continued to have amazingly steep corn turns the entire way down to the meadows. I was so excited that I had finally skied the route, it was so exhilarating! The route was definitely one of the cooler routes I have ever skied in the Tetons and the ski was well worth the hike.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Southeast Face to lower Southeast Couloir on South Teton

Bottom of Southeast Couloir

Tuesday night the conditions cleared and the temperatures dropped to freezing. My friend Brendan and I decided to head into the park and try for the Amora Vida Couloir on the South Teton. With the way the conditions have been we decided to approach from Avalanche Canyon so we could go up the route that we were going to ski. We left the trailhead at 330 with the full moon shining a lot brighter than any headlamp. As we turned off onto the Avalanche Canyon trail we started to bushwhack, this trail is not a maintained trail and after the winter the mountains had there was a ton of debris covering the trail. After about a little over an hour we were able to put our skis on and start skinning which I was grateful for after bushwhacking with my skis and boots on my back. As we skinned up toward Lake Taminah the snow was nice and hard, which made us feel hopeful. I could see the Southeast face above us and started we started to head toward the first couloir that was near the face. I had seen a few pictures of the Amora Vida, but was not totally sure if we were ascending the right couloir.
As we got closer to the Southeast face I realized that we were on the skiers left and I knew that to access the Amora Vida Couloir you skied down skiers right of the face. We Continued across and up the Southeast face the temperatures were getting warmer and the snow had not frozen completely underneath. Being above a lot of exposure we opted to turn around and ski back down the bottom of the Southeast Couloir.

Amora Vida Couloir

I had 4 awesome turns of perfect corn on the Southeast face and then continued to have great turns and snow into the bottom of the Southeast Couloir. I am glad we decided to ski that instead of the Amora Vida, because the snow did not look as good in the other couloir. We skied back down to the lake and then bushwhacked back to the Bradley/Taggert and were sitting on the deck of Dornans looking up at the South Teton 11 hours after we had started. (this is always my favorite part!!) I decided next on the list is the Southeast Couloir proper from the summit and approach from Garnet Canyon. It looks like a beautiful line!!

Standing on Southeast Face

Thursday, June 16, 2011

East Face Teewinot Attempt

Looking up toward Summit

Friday morning my friend Neal and I left town at 2 am with idea of possibly skiing the Diagonal Couloir on Mt Owen. The Weather has been really unsettled and it has been hard to ski in the mountains, because it has not been freezing in the evening. As we drove to the parking lot the temperature was in the mid 40s, we decided to go for the East Face of Teewinot, because the approach was a lot closer and it was a lot easier to bail if needed. We only had to hike for about an hour before we hit snow and were able to start skinning. This was so nice to get the weight of skis and boots off the back. It is the middle of June and the snow line is still incredibly low, it makes me wonder if climbing in the Tetons is ever going to happen.

After skinning for about another hour it was time to start boot packing, the snow was incredibly punchy and we were breaking through up to our knees. It took us about and hour to get to the Worshipper and the Idol and the sun had just started rise over the mountain. We still had about 1500 feet until the summit and decide to dig a pit, there was really no solid layer. We still had some time before the sun baked the face to much so we continued on for about 10 more minutes and decided that it did not feel safe. I still had an awesome ski down at sunrise, there was a bit of an inversion so the valley was covered in clouds. We were back at the car around 830 am. I was a little bummed that my day in the Tetons was over, but psyched with my ski fairly long ski down.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Peak 11,930 Wind River Mountains

Sedgewick Meadow and the mountain in the distance!

I grew up in the Wind River Mountains in the summers and ever since I can remember I have always wanted to ski in the Winds. The problem is the approaches are long and nothing is very accessible. So it figures I decided on the biggest snow year in 20 years that I wanted to ski either Temple Peak or Peak 11,930. These peaks are both near the Big Sandy entrance of the Winds. On Friday Brian and drove up the Big Sandy Openings road from the ranch and were stopped about 4 miles from the ranch my a huge mud hole. We brought our bikes to scope out how far we could actually get up the road. We were able to bike another 2 miles to the Dutch Joe Guard Station. The station is still about 3 plus miles from the turnoff to Sedgewick Meadow, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. Regardless we were still more than excited to go.

Summit view of Temple Peak, Tip is ready to ski!

On Saturday we awoke at 345 am and headed up to the mud hole and parked the truck and biked for about 20 minutes to the snow line. I have never seen so much snow up in these mountains, it took us about 2 hours to get to Sedgewick Meadow where we finally had a view of the mountain. We had decided to ski Peak 11,930 because it was a little closer than Temple. The sun was just shining through the mountain when we arrived in the meadow and it was so peaceful and such an surreal feeling knowing that no human was anywhere near us. It took us about another 2 hours of skinning and crossing creeks to finally reach the base of the mountain. We reached the summit around 1030 and took in the views and let the snow corn up a little and then had an amazing 2000 vertical foot ski down. I finally had my first ski descent in the Winds! The trudge out was long, but we finally made it back to the car around 3 pm.The day was about 11 hours car to car, but it was all worth it in the end. I ended the day with some inner tubing back at the ranch staring up at the peak we had just skied! Great day and my leg felt strong!! I can't wait for the next ski adventure. Tetons next weekend anyone?

Tubing Squaw Creek with dog at the end of the day!