Like many of you, I have been starting to feel a lot better about the Teton snowpack.
But after today, I am again…sick to my stomach.
Fearing wind more than avalanches today, I got out with a friend to attempt a line I have been looking at and wanting to ski for a long time. Unfortunately, it was completely wind hammered, so the plan evolved into touring south along SnowDevil Ridge (which connects 25 Short with Peak 10,696 in Grand Teton National Park) and seeing what else we could get our hands into. Coming to a high point just north of Peak 10,696, I saw what looked to be a 6′ crown from a very recent avalanche in what has been called Snow Devil Couloir by some…about 10-15 yards from the skin track and right where the slope rolled over to about 45°. My guess is that it released today, either naturally…or remotely, from the large 6+ person group putting in the skin track about 15 minutes ahead of us .
I post this as a continued reminder to us all of us that we are still dealing with a very fragile snowpack, even though the avalanche danger has now been downgraded to moderate by BTNF, and our snowpits seem to be telling a different story. Steep faces, convexities, unsupported from snow beneath…seem to still be very dangerous. I think I’ve skied this line before and on this tour, it was even thought of as Plan E. Today, it would have killed us.