Note: Many of the routes on Prospectors (including this one) are closed from Nov. 1 to April 30…to protect bighorn sheep winter range.
Rimrock Lake is one of the more difficult places to get to in the Tetons. It sits high on the northwest side of Prospectors Mountain and holds some cool terrain to be explored. Reed and I checked out some lines up here a couple years ago and knew we’d back for more.
Last week we approached via Open Canyon, and saw two moose and a black bear with in the first couple miles. We hiked in our tennies for about two hours before even thinking about taking the skis off our backs. Luckily the bushwhacking directly up the gut of the canyon was easy and straight forward and we made time as we moved closer to snow line.
Once we were deep in Open Canyon, it was like a different world and there was still so much snow on the ground. The sun was blazing and it felt great to be in the mountains again. Both Reed and I were a bit sluggish from having long days in the hills the day before, and we steadily skinned higher, taking a right at Tukuarika Peak and gaining the western ridge of Prospectors. The north side of Mt Hunt looked like it needed a bit more snow for a descent directly down the face, but a nice line was still available on the skiers right side.
We strolled across the long and broad summit plateau to the highpoint on Prospectors, and rested for a bit to take in some water and food before starting the long descent into Death Canyon. Some of the lines down to Rimrock Lake don’t go, but luckily I had some pics on my digi-cam that we could reference to find the entrance of the Rimrock Couloir. We skied continually from pretty close to the summit, which is nice cuz it is often extremely wind-scoured and free of snow.
We lined things up correctly and skied right to the opening of the couloir. An ice bulge blocked the option of dropping in directly from the top, so we skied down the ridge on the left, until we were able to scoot into the couloir. Nice, sun-baked snow lead to soft powder in the shadows and we leapfrogged our way down. The occasional hidden ice chunk knocked your skies around a bit, but the skiing was still quite enjoyable.
Knowing that skiing down to Death Canyon might not be that easy with the current conditions, we kept moving and skied away from one of those places you only get to once and a while. We were able to connect a series of gullies, and avoided one gnarly route in particular, on our way to the canyon floor. The snow was still in pretty good shape and it was after noon already.
The long walk out of Death Canyon in the hot sun gave me time to begin to accept the changing of the seasons. But, fortunately there is still quite a bit of snow in the high-country, so opportunities for skiing will continue…as long as I can find the time.