By: randosteve|Posted on: December 10, 2006|Posted in: Random Teton Posts, The Tetons | Comments Off on Prospectors: The Pencil

NOTE:This TR is from December 10, 2005.

When conditions are right, the Tetons can provide good coverage by mid December and I have had many fun, steep, technical descents in the ‘cold smoke’ powder of the last month of the year. Reeders recently pointed out a line that has attracted his eye every time he rides out to ‘the vill’…we have dubbed it…The Pencil.

The Pencil...sorta


It’s funny, turns out The Pencil is only, a pencil, in the early months of October and November. By the time we thought there was good enough coverage on the lower slopes to check-it-out and get a summit-to-valley descent, the pencil-like couloir had transformed into a rather wide, moderate angle slope…thought still incredibly fun…as always.

We got an early start for December, skiing by 7AM, cuz it’s kind of a long haul into Open Canyon from the Granite Canyon trailhead. We were rewarded with a nice sunrise and a good view of our destination, the slopes lookers’ left of the Banana Couloir on the southeastern side of the mountain. After a bit of doubtful-route finding through thick forest growth, we found ourselves on-line and headed into the canyon. We soon arrived at the point where we would start to ascend the south-facing slopes and honestly…it looked grim. Thinly covered slopes that ‘whumped’ frequently when weighted. I turned up the volume on the I-pod and charged upward, hoping that deeper, more consolidated snow pack would be found. Sure enough, after a thousand feet or two, I found myself loving life, and just trying to find the best place to lay down the track. Often I will sacrifice the best or most efficient skinning line to keep the ski line fresh. I recommend this approach.

Having fun on Prospectors Reed and Randosteve Reed and wind on Prospectors Skiing Prospectors SE Face

We booted the last thousand feet and the summit rewarded us with high winds and cold December temps. We scurried down and around the north side a bit, hoping to get a glimpse of some of the northern shots down to Rimrock Lake. We had hoped to do a quick lap down to the lake before skiing the southeast side, back down into Open Canyon and racking up a nice 6000’+ day, but the winds beat us down to the core and we scurried back up to the top. A quick transition brought us to firm, cold, wind-scoured snow (surprise-surprise), but it was fun yet again. I got pelted in the face with every turn, my spray being thrown back at my by the wind. The lower 2000′ was great powder skiing, with ‘think-light’ turns, knowing rocks lured not to far below.

The track was fast on the way back to the ride and I breathed the cold air in deep as the sun set behind the mountains. Great day to be a skier!