Post subject: Last Week in Grand Teton National Park (3/3-3/10)
Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:45 am
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:44 pm Posts: 712 Location: The Magic City
On his recent TR, HikeforTurns said "Less talk, more stoke". I couldn't agree more. There are more than a few skier photos, but stick around 'til the end for some split action.
I spent last week down in Jackson hoping for the ever elusive combo of stability, good weather, and good surface conditions, but that's kind of a tough combo to pull off this time of year. Thankfully, the Tetons are so diverse that there's always a good option in any conditions. I spent the first part of the week riding the wave of a couple big storms that moved in, lapping powder and racking up the vert on the eastern flank classics with my pal Ty Gittins.
I've seen this view and taken this photo dozens of times, but somehow, on bluebird powder days such as this, it never gets old. This region of the Park offers some of the best access and most diverse terrain in the Tetons.
By Wednesday, just as the "old" storm snow had started to stabilize, a new storm descended, foiling our bigger plans and leaving us to this untouched pillow playground:
A fair amount of time was spent staring at the Tetons from this spot, as usual (shameless plug for an awesome establishment):
By Friday, a new couple of pals had rolled into town and we were keen to go check out some steeper north aspects and see how things were doing. Another storm brought more low visibility, so we checked out a spot I've ventured to many times before, the Turkey Chute. Conditions were absolutely stable and prime.
Me, throwing the big backside slash (Ned Gall photo):
Ned, doing the same, w/ Duncan's track already lain:
Encouraged by the good stability, Ned and I made plans to go check out a couloir near the Red Sentinel in Garnet Canyon on Saturday. It shared the same aspect as the Turkey Chute (though about 2k' higher). I'd learned about the line (along with so many others) from Steve Romeo's TetonAT site. Even though he's been gone for just over a year now, I think of him every time I venture into the hills. He's a perpetual source of inspiration to me and so many others.
The forecast was for warm weather, but not too warm, so we left the Taggart parking lot at a casual 7:45. Despite the beautiful bluebird conditions and weekend day, there were only 2(!) other vehicles in the lot... totally unbelievable to me.
Caught some nice golden light on the peaks on the way in:
We made pretty good time heading up the canyon and approach couloir, though on the lower apron, when I could still see most of Garnet Canyon, I kept looking over my shoulder because it was so hard to believe that we'd be the only ones in the canyon on such a beautiful, bluebird Teton powder day. But still, no one came. We topped out the Red Sentinel Col about 4 hours after leaving the car.
Me, about halfway up. (Ned Gall photos)
Ned snapped one of my favorite photos, showcasing the awesome lines on Nez Perce in the background:
On top, a couple of pole pokes and a tentative step or two into the north couloir, our intended objective, revealed a bunch of obvious windloaded snow. There weren't a whole lot of options for testing the stability without completely exposing yourself. I was kicking myself as I'd swapped out my 30m belay cord, which would've been a perfect tool for this situation, for an axe and crampons that morning.
The North Red Sentinel Couloir, looking fantastic(lly loaded) and... primed to pop? Maybe, maybe not- but we weren't about to find out.
Oh well. The south couloir, which we'd ascended, was softening up nicely in the sun and would still provide an excellent 2k' descent back to Garnet.
Me at the top, with the namesake rock formation (the Red Sentinel) off to the right. Ned Gall photo.
Shreddin' (Ned Gall photos)
Towards the bottom. Ned's track and our skinner visible (Ned Gall photo)
The descent was made in near-perfect corn conditions. It's always enjoyable to explore new terrain, even if you don't wind up doing what you'd intended.
At the bottom of the run, we both cast a gaze up into the South Fork of Garnet. With its shadier aspect, the snow looked fantastic and we decided our day wouldn't be complete without adding another couple of tracks to the canyon walls, this time in the shortie classic Cave Couloir.
We caught some magic light skinning up there:
and made another nice-looking set of tracks for others to gawk at on Sunday (Ned Gall photo):
Sadly, that Garnet day was the last of my trip save a quick and excellent corn run down Twin Slides the next morning. But the Teton snowpack is deep and things seem to be setting up for an awesome spring season down there! (Note: All the photos of me were taken by Ned Gall, an awesome skier and a talented photographer as well. Check out some his other work at http://www.nedgall.com/ )