Note: Unfortunately I am working today, but in an effort to populate this site, here is a TR from a trip I did on December 16, 2005. Wanda Pinnacle is the peak to the east of Mt. Wister in Avalanche Canyon.
There are some lines in the Tetons that you look at all the time and for some reason never get skied. The 11’s Couloirs (what we call them) lie on the east/northeast side of Mount Wister’s neighbor, Wanda Pinnacle, and tempt skiers daily. Unfortunately, the technicality of the lines and the cliffs at the bottom keep skiers away. Reed and I figured they were a good objective for an early season attempt…. what else do we have to have to do today?
When skiing lines in Avalanche Canyon, I often like to ascend 25 Short and then ski the Turkey Chute down to where the canyon splits. This usually gives you a good view of your objective (whether you like the view is another story), as well as some additional vert. Unfortunately, today’s view showed the upper reaches of the 11’s barely filled in and the technical route finding of the lower couloir made more difficult by the lack of snow. Taking this in stride, Reeders and I scanned the mountain for another objective.
We saw a nice southeast facing shot to the looker’s left of the main eastern buttress of Wanda Pinnacle. It had some small cliffs at the bottom, but we felt were well prepared with a couple 7.5mm X 200′ Beal cords, in anticipation of having to deal with some rappels in the 11’s. We skied Turkey Chute, decided to ditch one of the ropes and skinned up an apron that lead to a ramp, which gave us access to the upper half of our newly chosen descent.
It was sunny and we wanted to chill, but the wind was with us at the top and its chill forced us to hurry. Good powder was found once on the south facing slope, but it was still only mid December and we skied it mellow. Once in the lower half of the line, where we hadn’t climbed, it got a bit more exciting.
Ramps and ledges sat below and it got harder and harder to figure out which way to go. I quickly changed my original plan of heading towards some trees on the skiers right, cuz I didn’t think our one rope was long enough…damn it! I now felt like skier left was the way to go. We found one tree that gave us a good anchor to examine the options lower down. I rapped down a ramp to the left (we could have probably skied it) and found some bushes on a ledge above. I did a pseudo tension traverse until I was able to reach them and then yelled “Off rappel!”.
Reeders came on down and handed me the end of the cord, which I quickly threaded behind the bushes. An awkward start brought me down to where I could see the rope reach the bottom of the cliff. Taggart Lake wasn’t frozen yet, so we skied around to the south, thankful for another day in the mountains.