Sunrise on the Grand and Teewinot.
While lots of people are out hunting to get their elk, deer or bison, I seem to be one of the few hunting for October skiing. New moisture in the Teton area has been pretty light over the past week, but it sure would be nice to see some more wintry weather come our way soon. Unsure of what the rest of the month will produce, I went out for a solo mission to ski in Garnet Canyon on Thursday, assuring me of getting my October turns.
October powder turns in the Cave Couloir.
Surprisingly, there was lots of activity on the park road in the morning hours. With hunters pulled over waiting for their targets to cross the “line” and construction crew all over the inner road trying to get the pathway project finished. Personally, I’m not too thrilled about pathways in the park, and I’d bet there is an increase in bicycle/pedestrian/car accidents over the coming years…not to mention parking issues. Anyway, I managed to get to the Lupine Meadows trailhead just as the sun was rising and hitting Teewinot and the Grand, and I knew I’d be in for a fun day.
As I was just getting going down the trail, I ran into some bros who had pulled the plug on their own adventure, commenting about the amount of snow once you reached the Meadows. It got me thinking as I zoned out and hammered out the few miles of climbing to get into Garnet Canyon, and I was glad I had brought my climbing skins. When I reached the Platforms, the snow was getting deep enough where I’d rather be wearing my AT boots instead of my tennis, and I booted up before negotiating the boulder field.
Booting through The Meadows.
Getting through the boulders was easier than I thought it would be with snow on top of thinly covered rocks, but it was grippy and didn’t slow me down very much. As I scurried further up the canyon, I couldn’t help notice that the Cave Couloir was still untracked. I didn’t have much of an agenda, so I moved past the Meadows and started post-holing through tough terrain. I hemmed and hawed about putting my skins on. Though the coverage didn’t warrant much skiing, it looked to be enough for some skinning, and getting the skis off my back.
I stubbornly kept booting, occasionally falling through a deep hole between boulders, until I reached the bottom of the couloir. The conditions looked pretty good, with about 4-6 inches of good powder on top of firm and breakable crust. The snow looked like it might be a bit gloppy, so I left my crampons in the pack and booted to the top. I transitioned quickly, psyched to sample the goods, and was soon linking turns in soft snow. Not in ski shape yet, I stopped a couple times on the way down to where I thought the base ended and only a foot or two of fresher snow cover the rocks.
Noodling through the boulders with the skis on.
I hesitated for a moment, but I really didn’t want to walk back down through the boulder field, so I keep my skis on and snowplowed and long poled my way through. Even though it wasn’t pretty, I didn’t hit too many rocks and it made me feel good inside. The rewards are small on ski adventures like this, but at least I got a few good turns and some exercise in preparation for a long winter ahead. Pray for snow!