Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Skiing the Ford-Stettner Route on the Grand Teton


We awoke after a good 9 hrs of sleep at 4:15am. The moon was high and casting perfect light onto the Grand Teton massive that began practically out our tent door. Although the peak is close at the crow flies, getting to the route and up requires stamina, patience, skill, and a little luck. For us, this day, everything came together and the mountain allowed us passage and the privilege to stand atop.

Starting up the boulder field we hiked by the guide camp, trying to move quietly. It did not matter, we soon found out from another group of two camped close by- the guided group of 4 had left 2 hrs earlier.  Together the twosome from Bozeman and us hiked up the Teepee glacier. The sun was rising off in the distance, creating enough light to see and change into crampons and harnesses.

After the little saddle of Teepee we went down a slope and around an arete into the Stettner couloir.  Here the two guys zipped by as they were soloing the first pitch, whereas we roped up. Tim lead first.  We ended up simul-climbing as well because the distance was too great between the anchors.  A fact I learned later, which I was glad to find out after the fact.
At the first belay station. Not too steep, but worth starting out roped for the  confidence and the mind-set shift.  Now begins the climb- slow and steady in the Chevy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Skiing in Grand Teton National Park - Glacier Route

Last year we had wanted to visit Grand Teton National Park over Memorial Day weekend.  Our rough plans had been to hike, climb and ski the Grand, however did not really know what that meant.... Were there technical sections?  How steep were the climbs, skis?  What was the best access?  Did climbing parties camp in an alpine basin, or make a one-day push from the car?  In many ways, we were fortunate that the weather forecast was not favorable that weekend. Rain, snow, fog would make for difficult conditions in an already foreign environment.
We trekked off to Rocky Mountain and instead had smoke haze from a New Mexico fire and crazy winds.  However, we managed to hike Long Peak, then ski the Tyndall Glacier.  This trip proved extremely beneficial as we got some more expedition-style planning, skiing and route finding experience. We had also come to Rocky earlier that spring to ski couloirs and such.... What a great training playground within a few hours from home.

This year, however, after more research, training, confidence building, and route planning, we decided to give it a go.

We both got Friday off work, so left Summit County Thursday night heading north.  Driving through North Park (Walden) and into the Wyoming prairies and hills was pretty.  Snow capped mountains innocently loomed in the distance.  The Zirkels and Raggeds are beautiful ranges, but very remote and hard to access.   Living in Summit County affords more opportunities to get out and practice being exposed, committed and even a little scared.

That night we stopped in Saratoga and went to the free mineral hot springs, 'The Hobo Pool.'  Never had we been to an area where to water was SO hot(especially for being free!). Makes you sweat just sitting on the pool side. Afterward we drove up the road and set up camp at a lake for a few hours of sleep between diesel engines and motorhome generators.

Friday we awoke early to drive the six hours to Jackson.  We elected to go through Rock Springs so we could hit the valley from the south and pick up some things before heading to the Park.  Once we passed though Bondurant and headed down a gorge alongside the fast flowing Hoback River, I felt like we were in true Wyoming mountain country.

I will never forget my first gasp upon seeing the Tetons!  'WOW,' was all could say when we came to the highway junction with South Jackson.  So dramatic, dominating and defining. We walked around town for a bit, our anticipation growing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shit for Brains and other A Basin side country

Last weekend we skied Shit for Brains in horrible conditions, and some side country off the back of Mountain Goat Traverse in fantastic conditions.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

In some places the snow was unconsolidated and soft(with breakable crust on top)