My alarm woke me up at 5am yesterday and I was the only car in the lot at the top of Teton Pass, as the WYDOT plow driver cleared the 6-8” of new snow from the parking lot. It looked like I was going to be breaking trail in the dark and solo, so I took one last swig from the coffee cup before walking towards the north side of the road and the start of the Mount Glory bootpack. The trail breaking wasn’t so bad at first, but after a while, the old track disappeared under the growing wind-drifts and I soon found myself walking and wallowing through crotch deep powder.
Now, I’m always keen to a good work-out and I’ve booted up some nice couloirs in uber deep snow before, although they usually are steep and narrow to warrant bootpacking, BUT…it was at this moment on the way to the top of Glory that I thought to myself, why the hell am I not on my skis and putting a skin track up this thing? Here I am with 115mm waisted skis on my back, adorned with the best bindings and climbing skins money can buy, the slope is plenty wide enough…so why am I bootpacking instead of skinning?
In the right conditions, bootpacking can be fast and efficient, but when there is 1-3′ of powder blocking your progress, it seems to me like skinning would be the better and more efficient mode of travel….no? With today’s super-fat skis, we can float over the snow quite easily, even when the snow density is in the single digits and quite blower. When bootpacking, we sink up to our crotch and have to high-step whenever the snow get’s deep, which just doesn’t seem very efficient.
Is it tradition, or backcountry ethics that keeps us from laying a nice steep skin-track up past the Jesus Rock, the Hillary Step, the Scoreboard and onto the summit ridge? Did Bill Briggs or Virginia Huidekoper at one point in time deem that there shall only be a bootpack to the top of Mount Glory? Do we do it so that all the bros and bras, with or without skinning equipment can also benefit from our effort? I don’t know myself, but I’m tempted to throw on the climbing skins next time I’m in the same situation. What about you?
Are Teton skiers ready for a skin-track up Glory?
(Please leave your answer in the comment section.)
A) Negative bro, yee shall always and forever boot pack Glory.
B) Sorry man, I’m a village rat/snowboarder and I ain’t gots no touring gear.
C) Whatever man, as long as I don’t have to break trail.
D) Skin track and bootpack, may they exist in perfect harmony.
E) Skin to win, and if you walk in my track I’ll slit your throat.