|Skiing off the summit of the Grand Teton. Photo: Mark Hammond|
|Moonset over the Red Sentinel. I do not have any pictures|
from Teewinot because I skied it in the dark.
|The Koven Couloir at first light, not looking very user friendly.|
|At my high point on Mount Owen, ready to ski.|
|Powder high on Mount Owen, also showing my high point.|
|Sideslipping a chimney high on Mount Owen.|
|Downclimbing the upper Koven couloir.|
At the base of the Teton glacier lateral moraine, I took a quick break to refuel and apply sunscreen. It was 9:15, and the day was warming rapidly. With a bunch of elevation already under my belt, I was moving slowly, but started the slow grind up the Dike couloir. From the top of the couloir, I traversed the Tepee glacier, and took the normal route for the Grand to Glencoe col. Donning spikes yet again, I started up a cold and blustery Stettner couloir. Looking up the Chevy, I was pleased to see the ice bulges looking quite manageable, even with only one real ice tool. As I ascended the Chevy, I started running into the cluster that must be the Grand Teton on a sunny day in May. In a 10 minute span, I climbed up through a rap party of four, another rad rap party of two from Colorado, passed a party of two, and closed the gap on Mark Hammond and Jason True from the Wasatch. I was tired and moving quite slowly, but still made the summit in under an hour from entering the Chevy. I chatted with Mark and Jason on the summit for a few minutes before making a fatigued descent of the Ford. What a run - the Grand is so amazing, and skiing on the moon never gets old. I carefully downclimbed the Chevy and Stettner couloirs without incident, and ducked out at the base. A small but scary wet slide came screaming through the Stettner as I was transitionig to skis, indicating that it might be past time to start heading home. I had hoped to continue to Middle and beyond, and stubbornly made the traverse along the Black dike to the Lower Saddle. An accomplished ski mountaineer, who I admire, once described his approach to ski mountaineering as simply putting one foot in front of the other until it became time to pull the plug. It sounds simple, but this approach has worked well for me, inspiring me to push through doubt, physical low points, and psychological low points until the breaking point is reached, usually due to avalanche danger, poor weather or apathy. Fatigued, intimidated, and worried about wet slides, it was the breaking point for me on that day, and I pulled the plug at the base of the North ridge of the Middle Teton.
|At the end of the traverse to Lower saddle.|
|At the Lower saddle, where I bailed.|
Total elevation gain (based on Google Earth): 11,800 feet
Trip length: 15.5 hours
Put in: Taggart lake parking
Take out: Same
Ski equipment: Dynafit Broad peak skis, TLT speed race bindings, Scarpa Alien boots, One whippet and one race pole. OR Ferossi pants, Camp Nanotech crampons, One Petzl Aztarex axe, and one CAMP Corsa axe. Helmet.
Ski equipment left in the car which caused extreme regret and misery: Ski crampons
Sustinance: Leftover Teton Thai for breakfast. 1 growler full of water with Perpetum, refilled once . One turkey wrap. Two chocolate bars, two Probars, and about 1,000 calories of Gu.
Trailbreaking effort: Moderate
Avalanche conditions: Low end of Moderate with a few lingering slabs and wet slide danger in the afternoon.
Fatigue factor (1-10): 9.8
Stoke factor (1-10): 9
Memories to suppress: I got beat down by elevation, which is always frustrating. Not completing the traverse.