With the bighorn sheep closures going into effect on December 15th in Grand Teton National Park, it’s always fun to explore the slopes of the peaks that you don’t get to ski for most of the winter. Yesterday, I got out with Reed to ski the East Face of Tukuarika Peak, which is just shy of 11K’ and sits on the north side of Open Canyon behind Prospectors Mountain. Tukuarika is a Shoshone name for the Sheepeater Indians that frequented the Tetons before white man moved in.
We got a pre-sunrise start from the Death Canyon summer trailhead and followed wolf tracks down to Phelps Lake…and up into Open Canyon. There was just enough snow on the ground to skin most of the way and we tried to keep moving, knowing the trip would be anywhere from 12-15 miles round trip, with an unknown amount of deadfall dodging. It felt great to be in the mountains once we where higher up and there was more of a snowpack. We booted the final 1,500′ to the summit, through varying depths of low density powder and sugar snow. The wind was howling and it was cold, so we didn’t linger. A small soft-slab released as we were down-climbing off the ridge, looking for protection from the wind. The skiing was great, but rocks hiding just below the surface kept the speed down. Mister Suunto logged the tour at 5,900 total vert and a time of 8:50 CTC. Hope you like the pics!