We are getting bundles of snow right now, a foot last night, and I am sampleing the goods today. Avy danger is way up and I’m sure it will only continue to rise as I hear another 15″ is predicted for tonight.
My good friend Reed Finlay did an long tour on Alpenglow Ridge on the west side of the Tetons last week. He said it was a 12+ hr day…enjoy!
The first time I attempted to ski Alpenglow Ridge I got caught in a vertigo-inducing whiteout. So Friday presented the perfect opportunity for a renewed attempt with blue skies, warm temps and a light, wicking breeze.
This aesthetic tour, a sinuous ridgeline running from Housetop Mountain to Peak 10, 262, can be seen WSW from the top of Rendezvous Mountain (aka JH Mountain Resort). Running along the border between Grand Teton National Park and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Alpenglow Ridge winds up and over six or seven summits. I had heard of folks hiking this route in summer and know a few hearty souls who have made the trip in winter.
Last Friday, Alpenglow presented the perfect option for an early season tour given the boney conditions. I met Mike Warner and Carol Viau in the Albertson’s parking lot at 6 a.m., knowing we’d need all the daylight we could get with such short days. One upside to this winter’s lack of snow is that it allowed us to drop a car at the summer trailhead at Moose Creek, which is usually snowed in by now.
Then we drove to the Fox Creek Trailhead and had a nice leisurely walk on the summer trail up to the Baldy Knoll Yurt. This yurt accesses some amazing ski terrain on the west side of the Tetons and is definitely recommended. It looked like someone had been up there recently and put in a nice track for us all the way up Acid Ridge.
Once we passed the yurt the fun began as we ascended up Peak 10, 024′ and followed the steep and narrow ridge to Housetop, the highpoint of the tour. The next section involved walking down the south ridge over windswept terrain ‘til we finally got back to some snow. It was amazing to me during this trip how much wind must have blown through here over the past couple of weeks. Lots of rock and some interesting cornices and drift patterns abounded.
We pretty much walked the knife-edge ridges and when we skied we rarely took off our skins, a method of travel we call “jake-braking.” We didn’t finish until well after dark, with our headlamps lighting the way, picking our way through the forest where rocks and downed trees lurked above the snow.
We didn’t get to the Plummer Canyon Highlands until twilight (about 5 p.m. these days) so it made finding the way out a bit of an adventure! We ultimately made it out and enjoyed a hearty burger and fries at the renowned Knotty Pine Supper Club in Victor.
Now that we we’re getting some snow it’s nice to have a tour like Alpenglow behind us. For me it was something to do early season in low snow conditions, before the high lines and other shots on “the list” fill in. Alpenglow Ridge was definitely about “getting further away.”