I’ve been eye-balling this line back in Avalanche Canyon for the past couple weeks, and at least one other person noticed it too…cuz they emailed me about it. Well last Friday looked like it was going to be nice, so I figured I’d give it a go. Fellow rando racer Zahan Billimoria had called me, wanting to ski, so he jumped on board for the day.
Zahan (Zee) lives in Driggs, so he decided to crash at the trailhead and I met him there at 5 am. Zee surprised me a little bit with his lightweight setup (Scarpa F1/Trab FreeRando) so I knew he’d be moving quickly today and I’d be in for a good workout. We marched our way into the canyon as the sky slowly got brighter, and arrived at Lake Taminah in just under two hours…my fastest time yet. We saw some wolverine tracks (I think) down at the fork in the canyon, and they followed our route to the lake.
The couloir of the day came into view as we skinned up towards Snowdrift Lake. Since the middle section looked a little icy from afar, we really needed to get a closer look to see if it was a go. We had some back-up plans if it didn’t, but as we skied higher it looked like a winner and we enjoyed the morning sun as we transitioned below the couloir. It was tough to really tell how much of this line we would actually be able to ski, so I had brought along a short rope and some pitons…just in case.
The snow conditions seemed really nice and good powder was still being held on the northern aspects, with corn coming into season again down low. After booting up a short, steep section, the couloir traversed to the right on a small ledge. We talked about how we would negotiate it on the way down on our skis, but it looked like the rope wouldn’t be needed here. The upper half of the couloir stopped at some rocks, but we wanted to climb higher to see if there was more skiing above. A small ledge went left and we used it to gain the upper slopes.
We got to the snow again on what you would call the East Face of Peak 11050, which also looked like fun skiing. We decided we’d ski the couloir we just climbed, hike back up to the top of the face and then ski that too. We downclimbed a little bit, but then decided to rappel into the top of the couloir, since we were all geared up. The rope was just long enough and we rapped off the end. I had threaded the rope behind a frozen boulder and unfortunately it got stuck when we tried to pull it. No worries though, cuz we’d be coming right back up.
The upper half of this line was a little awkward, with kind of a double fall line, but we managed to make turns down to the traverse. It looked like a big drop over some cliffs down to the left, so I cautiously side-slipped and stepped using my whippet. With some yoga moves and a bit of spacewalking, we were able to keep the skis on through a rocky section without thrashing them too much. The bottom half was much steeper and aesthetic, short…but still fun. We chilled for a bit and had some food, then packed all our stuff to hike back up, get the rope, and ski the East Face of this peak.
We climbed to a nice little col, more or less the highest point you could ski from and I looked towards the west and all the peaks. I could see the wolverine tracks continue past Snowdrift Lake and what looked like a loop, back into the south-fork of Avalanche Canyon. So cool to see these animals getting after it in the alpine environment. I’ve seen one, live and in person in the northern Tetons, but I’ve only seen tracks down here.
Anyway, we skied good sun-softened powder on the east aspect and jibbed a fun wind formation down to the lakes. I had to get back to town, so we motored quickly out or the canyon and back across Taggart Lake and the trailhead. I had fun skiing with Zee today, but I sure wish he’d slow down a little bit.