A website dedicated to the blissful pursuit of the backcountry experience, wherever mountains rise,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three Days of Ski Mountaineering in the Tetons

On Monday my good friend Brent Hutchenson came to Jackson for a quick visit and to take advantage of the fantastic conditions here.  I know that Brent likes to get after it, so in anticipation of his arrival I did some recon on Sunday for potential lines.  I dropped into Horseshoe couloir off the backside of the tram for the first time this year to check out conditions and size up the cliff band in the middle.  Luckily, I brought my rope, as the drop was at least 20', and upwards of 30'+ depending on your point of entry.  I found an anchor, and rappelled in with little difficulty, avoiding the jump altogether.  After some sweet turns in good snow, I hiked out in a short amount of time, and decided to check out another area that I had not yet been to before, the Northwest Territories in Granite Canyon, immediately off the northwestern ridge of JHMR, but within the Grand Teton National Park boundary.  I dropped a very aesthetic couloir called Triple-A chute, a beautiful line of close to 3000' surrounded by massive rock walls on either side, with two tight chokes and one mandatory air of about 7-10 feet.  It was burly, with a tricky entry and a fair amount of exposure, but surely one the coolest lines in the Northern Rockies. On the following day, Brent joined me, and we repeated the same itinerary exactly 24 hours later.  This time there was fresh snow (and zero tracks), as a small system dropped 3-4 inches overnight and winds blew in even more, requiring a roped ski cut on one entry.  We had cool, sunny weather and perfect snow all day.  The following morning we did a quick hike off the tram and up Cody Peak, with Central Couloir in our sights.  Due to some marginal conditions (cold weather and clouds had seized up the snow even in shaded aspects), we decided Four Shadows was a safer line, and dropped in hot from the top, making big GS turns in chalky snow. Our exit from the canyon, on the other hand, involved a mixed bag of conditions: everything from soft snow to hard-pack and ice, to slush and death cookies (or frozen slush), and we moved much more cautiously.  Before Brent left, we made plans to return together and ride Central another day.  Photos below:

Our tour through Granite Canyon (photographer unknown)


Day Two: Repeat

Day Three: Cody Peak
(photo taken in April, 2011)