It was good to see some colder temps yesterday morning. Having not been in the mountains for a few days, I wanted to ski something exciting. Most of the bigger lines in the Tetons aren’t filled in that well this season, so the dedicated skier must sniff out new terrain.
I’ve stared at the Dike Pinnacle many times hiking up into Garnett Canyon, and I’ve even skied it before, but this time I wanted to try something different. I wanted to connect the East Ridge to the Southeast Couloir …something I think that rarely gets skied. I knew that it needed a lot more snow to go clean, so Dustin Lemke and I brought a rope to deal with some rocky sections. Fortunately, the rope stayed in the pack, but we did take our skis off and downclimb about 15 feet.
We saw Greg Collins at the Platforms with a client, and it was nice to talk skiing with him for a few. We skinned into the South Fork and hiked with our skis off where the snow was too slippery to skin. After slapping on the crampons below the Southeast Couloir of the Dike Pinnacle, we climbed over two thin sections where we weren’t sure that we could ski through on the way down. The booting was easy, but I was feeling out of shape. As we got higher, we connected snowfields until we got below the final pitch up to the East Ridge, the crux of the route.
The snowpack was thin. We were able to make our way higher and got a good view of the ridge…and it looked like it would go without having to take our skis off. After climbing the final hundred feet or so to the summit of the Dike Pinnacle, we had a great view of the East Face of the Middle…a sick line in itself. We quickly put our skis on, cuz it looked like some clouds were coming in and we wanted the snow to be as soft a possible for the descent.
The skiing off the summit was exciting, with serious exposure on both sides and gave me a very airy feeling. Once off the top, we made our way down to a steep and narrow section …the crux of the descent. Once above the constriction, we were forced to point our skis down the falline and then shut down the speed once on the open slopes below. I felt like this was a no-fall zone, and it gave both Dustin and I the shivers. One false move and it’s about 1500′ down to the canyon floor. Ouch!
We felt good once through the crux and we skied good snow further down the East Face of the Dike, towards another thin section. On the way up, I had chopped out a bollard to use with the rope, but the downclimbing looked manageable now that we had been ripping the slopes above. This was the entrance to the Southeast Couloir, and it probably fills in when there is more snow. Once in the couloir, the snow stiffened up a bit and the thin cloud cover wasn’t helping warm things up.
We skied chalky snow down the serpentine like lower section of the Couloir, hunting for any slough piles to soften the turns. But had one more obstacle to deal with at the bottom of the couloir. A few rocks poked through, shutting down a clean exit. Luckily it wasn’t too steep, and we were able to make a small jump over the rocks and ice onto the hard snow slope below and back into Garnett Canyon.
The skiing out of Garnett varied from sustrugi, to mush, to powder, to neve, to anything else you can come up with…but the skiing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Yesterday was a great day of skiing that tested our technical skiing abilities in serious terrain. And I skied a new (for me) line to boot. Yay!