So fellow skiers. How do you claim a FD (first descent…bra) without getting chastised by the greater backcountry community when some lurker comes out of the snowpack and says he skied the line back in 2002? Good question.
Now first off, please know that this isn’t a prelude into claiming some sick new line on the North Face of the Grand Teton…or any first descent for that matter. But there are a few lines out there that you never hear of people skiing and wonder if anyone has. Trust me…I’ve got my eyes on a few.
Case in point…I heard through the grapevine that Jimmy Chin thought (or was told) that during his Teton Trifecta, he may have scored a FD of the East Ridge of the South Teton. A short, exposed pitch leading towards the col west of the Ice Cream Cone. Someone asked me if I had heard of anyone skiing this line and sure enough…a few months ago I got an email asking the same thing from someone who had just skied it. He was also inquiring about another line on the Dike Pinnacle that he had also skied. Though I wasn’t completely sure, my thought was that both had probably been skied before.
East Ridge of the South Teton.
Obviously, digging into the local guidebooks is the first step in seeing if someone has skied a particular route before. However, most of these books were printed in the mid-90’s, after ski mountaineering really got some legs here in the Tetons. Today, more than 10 years later, way more skiers are hitting the backcountry and pushing the envelope, and unfortunately no one has come around to publish an updated resource. In addition, not everyone has a blog where they talk about what they are doing and many ski mountaineers are hermit-types, tending to shy away from the public eye.
What’s the big deal with first descents anyway? Shouldn’t we just ski for the fun of it and keep our mouths shut. To me, I think it would be cool to bag a first descent. Not for the fame or bragging rignts at the pub (well…maybe a little.), but more as a way to challenge yourself. To gain a feeling of accomplishment and achievement.