Road Closed sign on Moose/Wilson Road.
Surprisingly, Teton Pass is open today.
Usually I make the right call when planning trips during inclement weather, but today, I dropped the ball and got shutdown…twice.
I hooked up with Chris Onufer early this morning and after a brief pow-wow, we decide to head towards Togwotee Pass to ski a line we had skied together at least 10 years ago. Although there was a Winter Storm Warning in effect by the National Weather Service, the satellite imagery didn’t look too bad and we thought we might just be able to pull it off.
The winds quickly picked up as we pulled out of Jackson and past the National Elk Refuge. The visibility still wasn’t too bad…until we passed the Moose entrance to GTNP where whiteout conditions ensued. We looked at each other and it was obvious that Togwotee just wasn’t going to happen today. It was all I could do turn the van around in the extremely hazardous driving conditions. Not wanting to waste the day, we pulled into GTNP towards the Death Canyon trailhead for yet another powder day on Wimpys.
The Moose Wilson Road hadn’t been plowed yet and it was a little dicey negotiating the van on the twisty road to the parking lot. Luckily it has all-wheel drive and weighs quite a bit, so it does pretty well in the deep stuff. The trail breaking wasn’t too tough, as the snow was very light and not to deep down low. Thing quickly changed though as we got closer to 8000′ where the skin track had completely disappeared and the wind picked up on the exposed ridges.
Chris skins through some aspens and moose brush just off the Death Canyon trail.
As we skinned higher, the snowpack got deeper and more sensitive.
I’ve only been turned around a couple three times before on Wimpy’s due to sketchy conditions and today was another one of those days. About a third of the way up, a small soft slab remotely released about 10′ from where we were skinning. It wasn’t very big, but considering we still had about 2000′ of climbing to go, it was enough of a sign to make us huddle up and call it for the day.
As we drove out towards the visitor center, we passed a sign indicating that the road had been closed and that now there was a ‘no unnecessary travel’ warning on the roads north of Moose, which is the final warning before closing the road. Thoughts of swallowing my backcountry pride and going to the village entered my mind, but a quick look at the lift status page on the JHMR website indicated that the top thee lifts were closed. Chris is a paraglider and knows all the cool weather pages on the web and it looked like the winds were forecast to increase for the rest of the day…so that that ended that idea.
Well, kind of a busted day today, but hopefully things will mellow out enough to get after it the next couple days. I have plans to ‘go big’ this Saturday, but with all this precip and wind…I’m having second thoughts now. It would be nice to get a couple good weather windows to ski some fun stuff, but I’m not going to complain about the continued snowfall and increased avalanche danger. Lord knows we need it.