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The Teton Range is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. A north-south range, it is on the Wyoming side of the state's border with Idaho, just south of Yellowstone National Park. Most of the range is in Grand Teton National Park. Early French Voyageurs used the name "les Trois T├ętons" (the three breasts). It is likely that the Shoshone people once called the whole range Teewinot, meaning "many pinnacles". The principal summits of the central massif, sometimes referred to as the Cathedral Group, are Grand Teton (13,770 feet (4,200 m)), Mount Owen (12,928 feet (3,940 m)), Teewinot (12,325 feet (3,757 m)), Middle Teton (12,804 feet (3,903 m)) and South Teton (12,514 feet (3,814 m)). Other peaks in the range include Mount Moran (12,605 feet (3,842 m)), Mount Wister (11,490 feet (3,500 m)), Buck Mountain (11,938 feet (3,639 m)) and Static Peak (11,303 feet (3,445 m)).

Between six and nine million years ago, stretching and thinning of the Earth's crust caused movement along the Teton fault. The west block along the fault line was pushed upwards to form the Teton Range, thereby creating the youngest range of the Rocky Mountains. The fault's east block fell downwards to form the valley called Jackson Hole. While many of the central peaks of the range are composed of granite, the geological processes that led to the current composition began about 2.5 billion years ago. At that time, sand and volcanic debris settled into an ancient ocean. Additional sediment was deposited for several million years and eventually heat and pressure metamorphosed the sediment into gneiss, which comprises the major mass of the range. Subsequently, magma was forced up through the cracks and weaknesses in the gneiss to form granite, anywhere from inches to hundreds of feet thick. This ancient magma has manifested itself as noticeable black dikes of diabase rock, visible on the southwest face of Mount Moran and on the Grand Teton. Erosion and uplift have exposed the granite now visible today. 

One reason the Tetons are famous is because of their great elevation above their base. Unlike most mountain ranges, the Tetons lack foothills, or lower peaks which can obscure the view. This is due to the fault zone being at the base of the range on the eastern side, and the range being too young to have had time to erode into soft hills. As such, the Tetons rise sharply, from 5,000 to nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor. The view is most dramatic as seen from the east; on the west side, they appear as high rolling hills that transition smoothly into flat pasture.  [WIKIPEDIA]

Jackson Lake, the Cathedral Group, Mt. Moran (photo: David Hewett)

"...ski mountaineers conceive of an adventure, take all the steps to prepare for it, attempt it, often a few times, and eventually complete it. Modern society is all about specialization and mass production. Most people only work on one aspect of a project. While this maximizes productivity, I find it counter to my goals in life, which vaguely include utilizing and sharpening all, or at least a great many, of my human gifts. Ski mountaineering pushes us to give life to a vision, challenges us to develop the skills to seek out that vision, then tests our determination and resolve as we attempt to complete it. It takes much time and energy and produces little or nothing tangible that the rest of the world might consider useful or leading to progress. But once you complete a ski tour or a climb, it’s yours forever, start to finish.  And it doesn’t even take up any room in your garage." 

 Mark Newcomb, Exum Mountain Guides, Jackson, WY


 Central Couloir, Jackson Hole Backcountry (David Hewett, skier unknown)

Myself, Summit, Grand Teton, GTNP (Greg Collins)

 Granite Canyon, GTNP (photographer unknown)

Myself, Endless Couloir, Granite Canyon, GTNP (Jack Brauer)

From: David Hewett <davhewett@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: ski mountaineering article
To: "Brent Hutcheson" <brenthcu@hotmail.com>
Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 9:43 AM
Hey Brent,

Hope this gets to you before you get off to South America.  Yes I saw the article when I returned from Spain just a couple days ago.  I think it turned out great; of course they should have given more coverage to you.  Only thing I'm concerned about is getting squeezed on fresh pow turns there next year as I'm sure this will bring lots of new interest to the Sawtooths and SMG.  But mostly it is a great thing to have as a personal record of what was surely one of the best winter backcountry experiences I've had in my short alpine life, and I plan to get hold of some hardcopies for safe-keeping.  I talked with Aaron recently and he is psyched about the upcoming winter...I'm hoping to rendezvous with him sometime this winter and maybe again in Idaho.  I can tell you this much Brent, this will not be our last press coverage...I plan to get a photo/article published in the next couple of years in some outdoor publication likely with you as the subject.  We both have the skills to get into terrain that most people cannot, and I now have camera equipment that can potentially get the shots and footage required for publication.  I met quite a few interesting people in the (outdoor) media world in Telluride at the photo festival who I will try to maintain contact with in the future, and hopefully that will pay off down the road.  We need to focus on some big projects and document them.  Besides feeding our egos, it can serve to promote your future guiding endeavors!  

Yes, I did climb the Grand when I was in Jackson...but guided! Two days, one overnight at elevation in Corbet's Camp, 17 hours of hiking/climbing, 10-12 pitches of maybe 5.4 to 5.7X climbing...fairly straight forward, but with incredible exposure (sometimes thousands of feet)!!!  I did the classic Exum Ridge on the the ascent and the Owen-Spaulding on the descent, with a grueling down-hike!  I scoped out the traditional ski route off the grand: Ford couloir, Chevy couloir, Stettner couloir.  I could see almost the entire route from different vantage points along the ridge, including rappel points!!!  It is entirely doable!  The hardest part is summiting in winter...very dangerous.  You'd better be with people you trust, have plenty of gear (and know how to use it), clear skies, and a bomber snowpack!!!  The skiing is the easy part!  I fully intend to climb/ride it this winter, possibly December or May.

My guide was, is Greg Collins from JHMG, absolutely the coolest, most informed, strongest, most intelligent, most accomplished, and friendliest guide I could ask for.  I got super lucky, as we climbed in the best possible conditions and on the last official day of the commercial guiding season, the day before Corbet's High Camp was shut down and dismantled.  We made a good connection on the mountain as we talked shop nonstop from car to summit and back, and made plans to ski several routes together this winter, including the Apocolypse, the West/East Hourglass/Sliver trifecta, the Grand, and some big lines in Chamonix in April, including some that I will introduce to him!  Ha! Imagine, me offering my services to someone who has guided the Grand over 300 times, climbed Denali 35 times, climbed and skied Mt. Blanc numerous times, nearly summited K2, seeks out the hardest routes on El Cap every fall with his friends, some of the best climbers in the business (many of them famous), and bagged first ascents all over the world...total badass!            

Spain was great!  It was quite warm while we were there, with great food, friendly people, clean sidewalks, beautiful architecture, parks galore, bicycles everywhere, and modern, efficient public transportation!  The beaches were stunning, some of the best urban beaches I've seen, and good surf, though I didn't ride anything because my left knee was torn up the entire trip (from down-hiking Cascade Canyon, or is it Garnett, always get confused).  I plan to go back soon!  I'm back in EH now, knee is better, work is actually decent, and I leave for Colorado, then Peru, then Patagonia in two weeks!  So keep in touch and let me know where you are or when you will be there!  Have fun and be safe!