Before rallying to California and Mt Shasta, I got with Brian Ladd again for another trip into Avalanche Canyon. Amora Vida on the South Teton had been haunting me after getting a good look at it on an attempt on Mt Wister a few weeks ago and a descent was in order.
Taggart Lake was looking a little iffy to cross, so we walked across the bridge and put on the skis after a little bushwhacking. The usual two hour slog brought us to Taminah and after a quick bite, we continued up to the base of the Amora Vida.
This will be my second descent of this couloir, with the first being about this same time of year. Conditions were pretty grim for my first shot, and my partners and I skied frozen ‘chicken heads’ through the narrows, so I was hoping to get it in better conditions this time. As we climbed the couloir, I realized that frozen chucks seem to be the norm in the spring, due to the big overhanging cliff that runs down the couloir’s skiers-left flank and dripping water that falls from its edge onto the snow below. However, the big exposed face that runs along the right side holds up much better to the heat, and was looking pretty good today.
We topped out on the col that connects Amora Vida with the South East Face of the South Teton. Clouds had begun to roll in by now and they cooled things off enough for us to feel good about continuing onward. We stayed on the ridge and made the summit after not to long. Visibility was coming in and out with the clouds, but we had good timing when we pushed off, as a good sized sucker-hole appeared.
The snow on the Southeast Face was creamy soft as we arced turns down the mountain. The face is a little steep at the top, and flattens out as you descend, but the massive views continue the whole way. The entire descent of the face should definitely be included on the Teton skiers hit-list…among a number of the other lines on the South Teton.
After picking our way into the Amora Vida, we traversed out to the skiers-right, where the sun had softened the snow. The cliffs on the left side really protect the actual couloir from the sun until well after noon, so if you want to ski the true gut of the line (in good conditions), plan for a late descent…at least in the springtime. A small plane flew overhead as we skied, and I swear it turned towards us to watch as we shralped the goods. We were forced into the shady, icy section for a couple hundred feet towards the bottom, but the snow improved drastically for fast, TGR-turns back down to the lake.
For the previous few hours, the north side of Mt Wister had been continually releasing much of the past days new snow, and it cascaded down the face in a thundering eruption. We chilled for a few minutes and watched as slough after slough repeatedly fell off the mountain. It was an impressive sight and very cool to watch.