Brian Ladd skiing the North face of Mount Hunt.
Now that the bighorn sheep closures (Dec 15th-April 15th) have expired in the Grand Teton National Park, it’s a great time to hit peaks like Mount Hunt, Prospectors and Static Peak, which are typically off limits for most of the season. Skiing from the summit of Mount Hunt has eluded my over the past few years, but that finally came to an end last weekend.
There is no doubt that Mount Hunt is a cool peak. Its’ north side holds good snow late into the season and it’s south facing gullies and ramps provide some great corn skiing down into Granite Canyon. It is also neighbored by some other great mountains that provide fantastic steep skiing for those willing to make the long haul into Open Canyon. At times, Mount Hunt reminds me of the bigger peaks of the Himalaya (not like I’ve been there or anything) or other ranges with high altitude peaks.
I joined Brian Ladd for this adventure and hiked on the plowed Moose/Wilson Road before clicking into the skis at the fence-line that indicates the correct approach route. After noodling through “the maze” (lowlands and heavily wooded area between Granite and Open Canyon) we popped out in an open areas with views of the mountain. Though our plan was to ski the North Face of Mount Hunt, Brian had another route he wanted to ski on the way, which I will refer to as the East Shoulder. The East Shoulder rises steeply up from the Mount Hunt Divide and I’m sure attracts may skier’s eye when they are on top of Olive Oil, a semi-popular powder skiing route to the east.
What’s hiding in them there caves?
Wanting to get a good look at the East Shoulder route, we skinned towards the divide and wondered if any critters, like mountain lions, were using the caves in the cliffs above as their home. Arriving at the divide, we found a fresh bootpack heading up the ridgeline, so we gladly packed the skis and started hiking. As we reached the top of the East Shoulder, we peered over cornices and decided we’d give it a try, even though the route was slightly washed out from wet slides. Brian entered first and traversed in under the cornice before making turns on semi-soft snow. It was my turn next and I followed suit, skiing past Brian and continuing to the bottom of the line.
Brian Ladd skis the East Shoulder of Mount Hunt.
Luckily, we could easily traverse to the skier’s right and catch the bootpack again to the summit. As we neared the summit, and since I’m not a big fan of skiing tracked powder, I wondered what route those that set the bootpack had taken down…hoping they had opted for a route other than the North Face. Arriving at the summit, we were psyched when we saw tracks heading further to the west…making a big traverse of the entire Open Canyon region.
Brian skis in front of Two Elk and Murphy Peak.
Skiing the North Face of Mount Hunt can be a little tricky. It takes a decent amount of snow to fill in the route from the summit and finding the way through the sedimentary rock bands can sometimes be challenging…especially if you haven’t climbed the route…which we didn’t. Fortunately, Brain had skied the route a few times before, so my anxiety was kept at bay and we dived in. Finding good powder snow, we skied a few hundred vertical feet before coming to the area that requires a bit of route finding. I skied down towards the cliffs and saw what appeared to be two spots where it was passable. One to the skiers left, and one directly below us, which required a small jump to reach the lower slopes. Since the snow was soft, we chose the small jump and continued downward.
The snow was a little less consistent and grabby lower down, but we had good corn skiing all the way to the valley bottom. A benefit of getting an early start, now that the spring weather has settled in. Loving the off-season so far and looking forward to more skiing.