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Trackhead saw the forecasted high pressure the area and got the Teton jitters a couple weeks back. He got together with gramps, guy, another dave and drove the brokeback (his motor home) up to Teton NP. I was sitting on he fence as to whether I should stay here and enjoy some stable conditions for big lines or go to the Tetons and do the same. After getting off work at about 5pm friday evening, I called Tri-U. I kind of figured we'd leave sauturday and have all sunday/monday to tour but he was already packed and ready to head out the door. Since i was still in my 2-cycle stinking work clothes, i needed some time to get ready. We findally decided that we'd leave around 9pm, that way we'd be there right at about 3am for the tour. I got my junk together and checked it twice. While waiting, the road trip jitters set in. I was anxious to get to the Tetons but didn't know if I'd be up for such a big day with no sleep. Tri-u and myself had been up since about 6am and knew we'd be in for some sort of a suffer fest. He drove the first 3+ hours while I got a few 15 min naps that allowed me drive the tail end. We pulled in right at 3am and notice the brokeback was still quiet with no movement or lights. We fixed that.
At 3am in the morning, you don't expect it to be warm outside but -15 is a bit chilly. Tri-u and I changed in the warm car while the Brokeback came alive with 4 frozen campers. After a 30min junk show of whose on first, we set off. less than 3 min into the tour, my nose was white. A search thru my pack revealed that I did pack my gaitor. It's a good thing because that would have ended my day right there. A minute or two up the trail, Guy was having issues with a frozen skin that forced him to return to the Brokeback. The temps were so cold that we could not wait and he is very familiar with the area so the rest of us continued on.
Early winter mornings in the Tetons are known for the low temps but you can't really relate if you are from the Wasatch and have never been there. You spend a lot of time trying to warm your hands and toes. That requires you to warm your core as much as possible and then swing the appendage until the blood comes back (arms and legs only for the guys who piss too much;)). I was having issues with my extremities but could usually keep them out of the dead weight range. Stopping for more than 60 seconds was not an option. We slogged through tress, flats, rolling terrain and I barely remember any of it. That first part of the trip was a blurr for me. The exception is crossing the Bradley lake that was atleast 10 degrees colder than everywhere else, due to the cold air pooling. About an hour later I was sure that my energy was shot and the trip was over. Derek kept telling me how good I'd feel once the sun came up and I got a view of the goods. We'll, he was right.
It wasn't enough to get rid of my cold feet/hands but it kept my moving upward with the hope that I'd find some more juice. We headed toward dissapointment peak and found steep little chute that granted us access into the basin below the grand.
cold hands prevented me from getting more pics but I got a few.
Derek headed in
We reskinned at the bottom and took a break for a couple minutes when we got a suprise. Guy caught up.
After warming his skins, drinking some coffee, swinging his feet and doing whatever else, guy was nearly an hour to an hour and a half behind. Derek kept saying he'd catch up. I still can't believe he caught us and was still charging the rest of the tour. We hung out a few and BSed in the sun. But soon the terrain called and we headed up into 45 mph gusts thru the basin that covered the persons tracks 20' ahead of you. We kept on as the group spread way out from exhuastion.
Derek's group had the idea of skiing something that has only been attempted a dozen or so times and skied only twice. Needless to say, it wasn't a good day to try it. We continued toward a tent on a sub ridge below the upper glacier. Inside there were a couple of exum guides that heard someone was going to attempt the hossak and they wanted to watch. It's kinda funny to have an audience. After a short chat with the guys, both of whom were on iggies, we headed up to the koven.
Koven--to the right of Mt Owen at the notch w/ blowing snow.
At the bottom of the couloir 2 of our party slpit so the rest of us donned our crampons and got the ice axes out, which turned out to be a great idea. after 40' vert we hit a 3/4" thick ice crust that made kicking steps tough. The winds were sending down some ice missles from above so I headed climbers left out of the couloir to avoid them. It was both a good and bad idea. I didn't have a helmet with me and that put me less exposed from above but more exposed to a fall thru the rocks. Had I climbed the route we planned to ski, I would have known the exact condition for where I could possibly ski down. After climbing thru the short 55 degree section, Guy took over the lead and got us up another 300' vert before I realized I no longer had the intent to ski that line. I remembered seeing a chute that went thru somewhere climbers right of our line. As Derek, guy and Gramps went to the top, I spent 45min-1hr looking for an appropriate way down. I must have crossed that cliff band 4 times trying to find a place that wasn't solid ice. I am very pleased that I brought my new bros with bomber edges cecause they came in handy up there. When all options were exhausted, I chose to go back to the koven and down climb. That is something I haven't had to do before. Usually I'll downclimb a short section of rock that I chose to go up for the view/summit. I drop the skis since I have no intent of skiing. This day I had a full pack w/ skis and lots of sketch terrain to negotiate. At this point, the group had reached the top of the Koven and got their gear ready for descent. Once I got into the crux of the down climb they began to send some debris my way that was a bit of a nuisance. I got moving quick after the crux, got my skis on and headed back to the iggy guy's tent. They were packing up and offered me some excellent coconut doughnuts that warded off another bonk. We also had a good laugh at how they though the Tetons were getting too busy latetly. I explained some of the Wassangeles problems and they recanted.
The exum guides took off and I had some time to burn before the group made it down, so I began to think about hitting a couple nearby short coulies but that sounded like too much work. I then thought about putting a 100' vert booter up the ridge and farming that but again, it sounded like work. I got my gear in order and finally saw TH come out of the down climb then boot slightly off to the side out of my view. I laid down on my pack for a few and awoke to Quentin Tarantino with a camera in my face. It was a good nap but I'm guessing it was short. Derek and I hung out till the rest of the group came and then realized we'd be cutting it close on daylight. It was time to bail.
coming out of Glacier Gulch
Gramps under the Grand and Teepee Pillar
We headed down thru some of the only good snow of the day and traversed back until the slope ran out. Guy had to make it back to Bradley lake where he left a rope and a rather expensive ice axe. After reskinning I noticed my skins were frozen solid and only being held by tip/tail. I only needed to get up a little higher to get some sun on the skins and put them into the jacket for a short ski down and across the lake. At the end of the lake I took a short brake to warm up my ski bases and the skins under some great scenery.
We made it back the car by about 4:30-ish with tired legs and empty stomachs. Derek brewed some coffee as we waited for the nordic skiers to clear the parking lot. Tri-U and Dave had already been in town for a little while so we met them at the Brewery for a beer and some much needed food. After, Derek took the Brokeback over to sick rick's house to recharge the batteries and get some sleep. Tri-U and I headed to the liquor store for some real beer and hit the road back to the 3.2 holy land. Four and a half hours later of getting whiplash from the occasional nod off (only while in the passengers seat) and I was in my bed with most of my ski clothes still on.