Well it is nice to be home, but I had a great trip to SLC looking at gear and talking with great people. I’m back in the store today, writing orders for next winter already, but I’m getting out on the King this morning to stretch the legs a bit before a couple days off. I have some things in mind…ski-wise. Hopefully we will get some snow to freshen things up! Here is some eye candy after a few days of tech-talk.
I think one of my most favorite days last season was when Dustin Lemke and I skied the Southeast Couloir on the South Teton. Not only is the line a steep Teton classic, but we nailed the conditions to boot!
We had the typical sunrise start and shuffled our way up to the South Fork of Garnett Canyon in no time. Easy booting up the wind scoured west side of the South Teton brought us back into the sun and the summit around noon. This is where the fun began.
The Southeast Couloir is a very steep line with some exposure at the top and a narrow crux to boot. But I find the top to be the most exciting. If you ski into the couloir from the summit, you ski above some enormous cliffs…giving you serious pucker. It is a bit easier if you ski down from the summit a bit and drop in from the very top of the couloir. Reed and I skied it the scarier way about 5-6 years ago, but today I will try the other entrance.
The couloir looked in great shape. A little chalk lead to boot deep powder. Kind of surprising I thought, since it is east facing. The avy danger was low, as well as my stress level, and I was loving life. The narrow crux isn’t always filled in, and I have heard of people rapping it. It’s ski able today, but kind of awkward…almost a double fall line and extremely steep. Definitely a side-stepping zone and I think the picture does it justice…No?
If there were any ‘bad’ turns, they were as we can out of the couloir and transitioned to a more southerly aspect. From here we had phenomenal corn skiing…in January. It’s not so much ‘spring’ corn snow, but more of a sun softened, wind-slab corn. Just as good!
It’s also good cuz we have some more fun skiing to do. See there are two ways out of the area we are in, between the South Teton and Matternought Peak. One required a short bootpack to the col on the north side of Matternought. It’s then open slopes and glade skiing down to Avalanche Canyon. The other route is to ski directly south once you are out of the couloir.
More couloir skiing awaits the skier that chooses the second option and it is the only route I have skied. It is a little bit of a gamble cuz it is not always filled in. It required a short straight line to small air to exit both times I have been here. The conditions made the hop easy today…but I’m sure it can be far worse.
Lou Dawson’s Descent Rating System
Hey, we were just talking about that line yesterday. Mentioning how we have to ski that this winter. How do you think the exit out would be? Plenty of snow? We got skunked on it last year. Arrived at the summit with a foot of new snow and rapidly warming temps. 15 minutes later, the mountains came alive with avalanches. Bailed out the north.
Interestingly, I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. Not totally sure about how filled in it is right now. But I will make a point to scope it out these next couple days for ya.
You can always bring a rope. 🙂
yes, the southeast couloir is certainly a gem, a steep one at that.