Grand Teton Ski Descent Speed Record Set?

UPDATE: Today, Utah residents Jared Inouye, Andy Dorais and Jason Dorais teamed up for a group solo ski descent of the Ford/Stettner Route and set a new bar with a time of 5:17 car-to-car. These guys are pretty speedy rando-races and the time will be very hard to beat. See the comments section of this post for Jared’s breakdown of the day. Well done fellas!!! (On deck…Brandon, Harder???)


Skiing above the Chevy Coulior on the Grand Teton.

Well, it sure seems like there is a lot of traffic on the Grand Teton lately. I’ve been hearing of multiple groups making daily descents over the past couple weeks. I haven’t skied the GT this year (yet?), but I’ve skied it in perfect corn, a foot of fresh powder, had a true “winter-descent” and also skied it in sloppy mank over the past few years. Rumor has it that conditions on the Ford/Stettner Route are what you might call “cruiser” right now and will probably be that way for another couple weeks. Get in line early though, cuz it sure seems like the Ford/Stettner is turning into a trade route.

I’ve heard of a few folks out there trying for the record of the fastest car-to-car ski descent time of the Grand Teton, Ford/Stettner Route. I’m not totally sure there is definitive current “record”, but I think it is safe to say that the bar was set this weekend by Jackson-ite, Nathan Brown, with a time of 7:15:33…car-to-summit-to-car. This is pretty darn fast, but of course…Nate thinks it can be done faster.  For the record, Nate went solo, used steel crampons and two ice tools, Dynafit TLT5 Performance boots, custom 160cm Igneous, and down-climbed the Chevy Couloir, as opposed to rappelling.


Zee Grand Teton!

Personally, my days of wearing lycra while truly ski mountaineering (as opposed to racing) were probably over well before they even got started, but I would think one could probably move through the Chevy Couloir faster if they rapped it with their skis on, but the added weight of a long rope on the ascent might negate any time saved on the descent. Obviously, current conditions will inevitably dictate what one chooses to do and the deep snowpack for sure makes down-climbing easier, compared to when there is less snow.  

I also think that one could probably use lighter skis, but then you have to worry about durability, as rando-race skis don’t really have the best history regarding durability for real skiing.  Aluminum crampons, one ice tool and a Whippet.?  Maybe.  No harness, no belay device or any climbing gear all together?  Well…that’s up to the guy with the most guts I guess.

Anyway, congrats to Nate on his accomplishment. It will be interesting to see how long his time holds as the fastest and I wouldn’t doubt if someone tries to break it in the near future. One thing to note though is that right now, no one is skiing all the way to the car, so one could question the purity of the descent to claim a “record”.  Either way though, it’s pretty dang fast for sure and IMHO, fun to pay attention to.

53 Comments

53 Responses to “Grand Teton Ski Descent Speed Record Set?”


  1. 1 brian Jun 26th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Oh boy, here we go. My heart rate goes up just thinking about this game. Nice job by Nate.

    Like he says, it will go faster. I think a lot faster. Jared Inouye did it in 7:20 car to car with a group of 4 in winter conditions with deepish snow in the Ford and windy conditions a few weeks ago. Lot’s of pictures on the way down and waiting on the down climb of the Chevy. Plus, he got lost on the “transitional” exit to the Lupine trail head. Harnesses, pro and two skinny ropes were carried by the group.

    Jared did it on race skis, definitely the choice in these conditions. Although race skis do break, I think a ski like the Trab which takes way more abuse during races pounding half out of control down mogul runs is more than up to the task. The weight savings and time benefit are without argument.

    My hunch is that a near 6 hour time is possible with a winter approach exit. Our time to the Glencoe Col via the Bradley-Taggart TH in winter and booting part of the summer trail is nearly the same. Going out, the winter route is way faster. It goes without saying that conditions are everything. It’s fun to speculate the pros and cons of rappelling vs. down climbing.

    The other thing is that Nate hasn’t skied shit in weeks and just spent a couple of weeks in Turkey being a tourist. Definitely not his fastest effort.

    It will certainly continue to be interesting… for those that care and want to play. Not for everyone but it’s another game to play in the hills.

  2. 2 js Jun 26th, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    What is the record for a car-to-car ascent and descent in summer? Hiking/running/climbing?

  3. 3 brian Jun 26th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I think the record is an unfathomable 3:09, or something like that.

  4. 4 randosteve Jun 27th, 2011 at 5:05 am

    it’s interesting to think that the winter approach/exit is faster since you have to do one more full ski transition to get out of bradley lake and back to taggart traihead. transitions can be pretty fast though, so that part may even out with the sneakers-to-boots-to-sneakers tranny you do this time of year from lupine.

    another thing, if you are starting from taggart, then it is probably earlier in the season and the climbing/down-climbing most likely quite a bit more difficult. I think the latest i’ve ever skied the ford/stettner was in may…

    http://www.tetonat.com/2010/05/17/mega-grand-teton-fordstettner-ski-descent-photo-tr/

    …and it seemed much more filled in than i had remembered. the pictures i’ve seen of it this year…even more so!

    wonder how many are on the gt today. me=workin’.

  5. 5 Chuck Jun 27th, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Chatter was that someone skied the Grand twice in one day last week. Any info?

  6. 6 randosteve Jun 27th, 2011 at 5:33 am

    ha! hadn’t heard that.

    what will they think of next?

  7. 7 Nathan A. Brown Jun 27th, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Reiner Thoni, the fastest ski mountaineer I have ever met, has a fantastic quote on his blog “The Out Side Out”. It reads, “With minds working together we advance at a much faster rate”.

    Harder, Inoue, Reiner, Brandon French, the Dorais brothers, Zahan, Big Wray and so many more inspire me to continue to try to be stronger, faster.

    Brian is so right on, we can crush this. I made a bunch of key mistakes and I want to put it out there to help advance this project:

    -Too much crap: no need for the rope, screw, 6 carabiners, Birdbeak.
    -Took a gamble on water flowing in the meadows. Not enough water or food on the way up (this one was a critical mistake could have cost me 30 minutes)
    -Down climbing was really slow. Perhaps a team effort with two 5mm 150 mm ropes would speed this up.
    -Running down the switchbacks was really slow as well (not really a mistake but a time sink compared to skiing out)

    I’m super psyched to get this project rolling!

    Let’s get it on!

  8. 8 joseph.szasz Jun 27th, 2011 at 10:19 am

    is there concensus that having your buddies carry all the tech gear, put in a booter, setup the rappel, bring tons of gu and water, then carry everything out is cheating and dubious or the radest way to speed things up. just curious. ive never seen people with dixie cups along the way for trail running records (although it probably happens) how much help from your friends is to much?

  9. 9 Jason Jun 27th, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Faster! Bigger! Better!

    be careful… I’d rather see people doing big descents safely than extra fastly.

  10. 10 gillesleskieur Jun 27th, 2011 at 11:46 am

    120m 5.5 deenyma rope, camp xlc 95 harness… half the weight of a 60mm half rope… but then agin that comes from an Euro…. ;-) NICE Project!

  11. 11 brian Jun 27th, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I think there is going to be a flurry of efforts this week with the high pressure locked in. Hopefully, no one gets hurt. I don’t think there is anyone playing that is not aware of the risks.

    Thanks to Nate for sharing some key beta. I don’t know the answer on the rappel issue although my gut tells me that, in current conditions, down climbing is faster for a good, confident climber. Not all good skiers are such. It’s more dangerous, more opportunities to blow it, especially over water ice bulges. Those are probably changing daily. But the time savings is not carrying ropes and related gear up there. That is huge considering all that stuff has to go 6K feet up the route.

    Water is heavy but can be cached along the way. I vote for two tools instead of one and a whippet. For me, I climb faster with the added security. Those bulges are tricky going down. But you might get away with only one if you are rappelling.

    My big concern is timing. Both times I skied the route recently it was winter conditions up high so the skiing was easy even though we were descending around 8am. I imagine that things are harder now so some sun-inspired softening is key. I’d be interested to know what time people are skiing the line and what the conditions have been like.

    As for rules, shit, we get to make them. It’s our game. Just be straight with the style if you want to share it. That said, my vote would be to leave the car with everything. You can cache food and skins where ever you want. No help from friends. Use the booter if it’s in. Like Alex Lowe once said,…”if there is a hold there, I’m gonna use it.”

    Be safe and haul ass.

  12. 12 randosteve Jun 27th, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    yeah nate…thanks for chiming in.

    you guys be careful up there.

  13. 13 Nathan A. Brown Jun 27th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Brian, and whoever else cares,

    Woody forecasted a low of 32 at 10K Saturday am.

    I skiied off the summit at 9:45. Ford was hardpack, re-frozen corn. I am comfortable skiing that stuff but it was not easy and a tad exposed. I was super happy to have a harness to tie in to the first rap anchor 100 feet above the Petzoldt ridge for my transition back to climbing mode.

    Tepee was a tad soft at 10:30 or :45 or whenever I was there.

    JHMG high camp down was perfect corn

    Meadows was dirty cupped summer crap but supportable

    I was able to ski almost to the exit of Garnet where you hit the first east facing switchback.

    Crush it bro.

    Nate

  14. 14 adam Jun 27th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    the next big thing? next week im gonna solo the grand, snowboard the east face, parapente off the otterbody, land in my drift boat with my chick rowing, slay some hog trout, go shoot 18 holes at the pines, and go to the bistro to close a real estate deal. what are you guys gonna do?

  15. 15 gringo Jun 28th, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Adam.
    best comment ever.
    thread closed.

  16. 16 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 5:01 am

    yeah gringo…sounds very chamonix-esqe to me and almost as kookie as someone trying to ski the north face of the GT. ;)

  17. 17 brian Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:52 am

    That’s impressive. It was over a dozen comments before the haters came on with their esteemed opinions. Surprised it took that long.

  18. 18 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 7:15 am

    a new bar being set as we speak?

    hope there is still some good snow left for you this weekend brian.

  19. 19 Scott Fennell Jun 28th, 2011 at 10:47 am

    What is the record for average velocity for the entire day including driving?

  20. 20 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    NEW SPEED RECORD…

    5:15…today.

    by jared inouye, andy and jason dorias.

    WOW!!!

  21. 21 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    scott…average 6.28MPH from the town of jackson. :)

  22. 22 joseph.szasz Jun 28th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    wow fun times in the tetons

  23. 23 Jared Inouye Jun 28th, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Hey Romeo, your days of ski mountaineering in lycra are just beginning! And Brian and Nate, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Though you weren’t there, you were with us.

    Anyway, our time was 5:17:37, car to car. 1:16 to the Meadows (which included a sneaker to boot transition), Glencoe at 2:38, GT summit at 3:27, Meadows at 4:38, done at 5:17.

    A few notes:

    - we left the car at 4:45 am

    - conditions from Meadows to Glencoe varied from soft to breakable–not optimal travel conditions. The descent off Teepee Col in the mushy corn was a bit more than my tired legs and race skis could handle. Woody forecast 39 degrees at 10k.

    - conditions in the Stettner, Chevy, and Ford were nearly perfect. Snow in the Ford was frozen corn, as Nate described. The two ice bulges were manageable and downclimbable. We got from Glencoe to the summit in 42 minutes, which surprised us and negated the time lost on the Teepee. Even though we descended the Ford on hard snow, it wasn’t too bad because the snow was coarsely textured. The descent of the Ford was certainly a highlight for me.

    - we ran the trail all the way down and ran the flat parts on the way up.

    - skiing in a group made us faster. We know each other well, and worked well together. In addition to some trail breaking, the collective mental energy (and the knowledge that your buddies would leave you for dead if you stopped to tie your shoe) made us faster.

    - no ropes, two tools each, skinny skis, two Whippets each, and tight tights.

    - totally self supported. No Dixie cup handouts. We cached some stuff at Glencoe and picked it up on the way down

  24. 24 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    well jared…i did get some new BD guru skis this year that are only 75mm at the waist. the skinniest skis i’ve had in years.

    congrats on the new bar. 42 minutes from glencoe to the summit really stands out.

    my summer gt speed split running to the meadows is usually just above 1 hour…so 1:18 is another impressive time.

    hey, it’s all impressive…fantastic job!

  25. 25 Jared Inouye Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Here’s a link to my Garmin data for the day:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/95559051

    The elevation and possibly the mileage is jacked up because there is no sat reception in the Stettner and Chevy.

  26. 26 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    cool…thanks! but i’m now wondering, what’s up with the small blip uphill just off the top? did you wait for a few minutes below the summit block before dropping in to the upper, upper ford/east face?

    let me guess, you’re home already?

  27. 27 Jared Inouye Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I think the graph is also jacked up. It only goes to 13k, although the “Max. Elevation” says “13,751.” We spent a few minutes on the summit. From there, there was no up. :)

    Yep, home sweet home.

  28. 28 randosteve Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    okay roger that. for a minute there i thought you might have down-climbed the summit block and put your skis on at the shoulder. (and that might deserve and asterisk. :) )

  29. 29 Jared Inouye Jun 28th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    It’s a bit bony off the top and requires a sidestep over a rock or two, but can be (and was) done. I don’t like asterisks.

  30. 30 Nathan A. Brown Jun 28th, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Such strong work my friends. I am so psyched for you. The gauntlet has officially been thrown down and the fight will be hard won. It seems that it will be a while before this time is bested.

  31. 31 joseph.szasz Jun 28th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    so rad guys nice work!

  32. 32 gmon Jun 29th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I guess this is the new golden age of ski mountaineering.

    Too bad that age might be defined by skiiers in tights.

  33. 33 mike Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Can we get a drug test for these guys, I think there doping.

  34. 34 Andy Dorais Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for the kind words. Just a quick correction – our last name is Dorais no ias. And, the time was 5:17 instead of 5:15. Not a big deal though if you want to credit us with being faster than we are!

    For more on the day see Jared or Jason’s links above or my write up at http://www.slcsherpa.blogspot.com

    And, tights are awesome. You haters should try em someday.

  35. 35 Wick Jun 29th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Nice work Jared & Crew! Super impressive, love the style too!

  36. 36 gmon Jun 29th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I am sure they are, and I am certainly not a hater. However, I think it is like women’s soccer, I might watch it, but I wouldn’t admit it.

  37. 37 omr Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Also impressive by Jason and Brian, their Teton-Trifecta on June 6 (Grand, Middle and South) in less than 12 hrs. I’d be bragging on one in under 24. Who are these guys???

  38. 38 Michelle Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    careful to those that ski the grand over the next few days…you may get thrown off the bootpack! the grand is the new glory lap

  39. 39 gringo Jun 29th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    gmon,

    don’t go putting womens soccer and ski tights in the same sentence!

    womens soccer consists of super fit mid 20′s goddesses running around all sweaty and glistening in the sun. I’ll admit to watching that any day of the week.

    ski tights are just Larry.

  40. 40 Cynic Jun 29th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    This is a real slippery slope, here we go head first. Maybe we should have a “fat and baggy” freeride car to car grand teton race. Rules: skis over 100cm in the waist, full side wall, min length 180cm. Bindings have at least a 14 din, with no walk mode. Alpine Trekkers and skins, optional. Alpine boots, no walk mode. Pants must be 1 full size too big, and drag on the ground. 2 Go Pros, one must be pole mounted, and the other chest or helmet mounted. Race starts after last call at the Coach on Disco night.
    Oh yeah, back to the women. Then we can have a womens telemark ages 20-30 rec division race. “Mid 20′s goddesses running around all sweaty and glistening in the sun”. I’ll post up in the meadows for that race.

  41. 41 tri Jun 29th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Rando,

    Got a question for you. I remember a few years ago you participated in the Randonee World Championships in Europe. Given the recent amazing accomplishment of Jared, Jason, and Andy, how would they stackup against the best Randonee racers in the world?

  42. 42 randosteve Jun 29th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    sorry andy…fixed it.

    and those down-climbing photos are rad!

  43. 43 Mike T Jun 29th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Congrats!!!! You guys might have set a timer at the bottom and the top….

  44. 44 brian Jun 29th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Cynic… funniest comment of the thread. Especially a thread that was deemed “closed” a couple of days ago.

  45. 45 Jared Inouye Jun 29th, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Hey Tri, I raced at the 2010 Worlds with the US Skimo Team and have raced some in Europe. The euro racers are very fast and I’m not competitive with them. To give you an example, the top rando racer in the world is Killian Jornet. In 2010, he won the vertical race (3k drag race up a mountain, no descent) in 39 minutes. I huffed in at 49 minutes in 50-something place.

    So long as they have the technical skills–remember that the Grand is definitely not a rando race–I’m pretty sure that there are many many euro racers who could go under 5:17 on the Grand.

    For another perspective, see here: http://www.skintrack.com/skimo-racing/north-american-ski-mountaineering-racers-vs-the-worlds-fastest/

  46. 46 Tri Jun 30th, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Jared,

    Thanks for the response. I’m not well versed in rando racing so didn’t know whether or not it would be appropriate to compare your accomplishment to rando raceing. I know this is a can of worms we may not want to open but I find it amazing that american athletes aren’t ranked near the top in sports like soccer (excepting the women’s national team), DH skiing (excepting Lindsay Vonn), XC skiing, tennis, golf, etc. The argument has always been that there’s no money in the minor sports (listed above) like there is in football, basketball, and baseball. But, I’m not sure that’s the case any longer. There seems to be plenty of money to be earned in DH skiing, soccer, tennis, and golf so I’m not sure exactly what the problem is.

    Anyway–congrats Jared once again to you and your hot shot friends from SLC. Well done.

  47. 47 Jared Inouye Jun 30th, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Tri,

    I know there are also many many Americans that are capable of competing at the top. Most just don’t know it yet, and may never realize it.

    In the ultra-running scene, there are a few Americans that can give Killian Jornet a run for his money (pun intended). Killian also happens to be the best ultra-runner on the planet. Geoff Roes, an American, has actually beaten him. Geoff has wondered why they have such cool races with tons of energy in Europe, but not the US. http://akrunning.blogspot.com/2010/12/utmb-in-us.html

    I agree with Geoff in that part of the reason that there are such cool events in Europe is because the public has much more exposure to such events (and therefore more people and top athletes are drawn in). The culture in Europe in the mountain towns celebrate mountain-type endurance sports. In most of these towns, wearing tights IS cool! :)

    At first I was going to apologize to Romeo for going on a tangent, but we really haven’t. Part of the motivation for putting a “speed record” out there is that it may help others find themselves. The next Killian is out there. He or she may be an American. Will he or she find her/himself?

    Jared

  48. 48 Derek Jul 1st, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Interesting thing about speed ascents/descents in the skiing world is the variability of conditions. The summer alpine routes have static conditions by enlarge, but winter, or skiing, is so variable. So many things to take into account. Time off for the best conditions, snow pack, etc, etc.

    Nice progression guys. Especially because you are normal citizens, as in, employed, families, life responsibilities. Not full time, fully spancered “athletes”.

  49. 49 Matt Jul 5th, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Tri,

    Alpine racing may be a minor sport in the U.S., but it certainly isn’t in Europe. And while it may lack the lucrative salaries of sports such as F1, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. the top racers can make a lot of money.

    Your idea that Lindsey Vonn is the only American at the top of ski racing highlights the sad nature of the sport in this country–no one pays any attention to it. Right now, there are a number of U.S. skiers who are at the top of the sport in addition to Vonn: Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso, Nolan Kasper, Sarah Schleper, Bode Miller, Steve Nyman, Marco Sullivan, Jimmy Cochran, & Andrew Weibrecht. And there are a number of phenomenal young skiers in the pipeline who will be joining that list in the next several years.

  50. 50 Bstory Jul 6th, 2011 at 7:24 am

    For the record, I skied the grand via the ford/stettner on July 2 in 5:22:16 car to car from Lupine meadows. As a mid-level rando racer with non-racing gear and heavy ice tools and crampons, I can’t help but think that it will go quite a bit faster! A few notes:

    - conditions were amazingly fast, with a bootpack from the meadows to the summit.

    - fully self supported.

    - gear: dynafit se7en summit superlights, dynafit TLT 5 boots (of course), TLT speeds, two heavy ice tools, steel crampons, two whippets, a helmet, and, of course, lots of lycra.

    - safety concessions for speed: no ropes, harness, protection, or avalanche gear.

    - It is probably obvious, but it takes a broad range of aerobic, skiing, and mountaineering savvy to play this game safely. I hope folks respect their limits and no-one gets hurt! For myself, I brought the more stable skis and whippets to keep the endevor within my personal level of acceptable risk.

    - the skiing was great. aside from a runnel and one icy patch and the obvious downclimbing in the chevy and stettner, the snow was good corn from the summit to the meadows.

    - thanks to the lycra clad crew of Brian, Nate, and Zahan for the encouraging words during the climb, and the slc crew of jared, andy and jason for setting a high bar.

  51. 51 Mark h Jul 8th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Hey Brian, was there a 10 foot waterfall near the top of the stettner when you were there last? I tried to solo the route yesterday but decided to turn around when I came to that.

  52. 52 Brian Story Jul 11th, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Mark – No, but there was quite a bit of water at the crux step. With all the warm temps, the stettner could have deteriorated rapidly over the course of the next few days.

  53. 53 Andy Dorais Jul 11th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Hey everyone,

    Mark and I have seen the water in the Stettner first hand, but here’s a link to a conditions update from when I was there on the 5th and to a short video clip. I can only imagine it’s worse now.

    http://teton.outerlocal.com/condition/detail/159

    http://vimeo.com/26087876

    Damn.

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