Randokitty skis Chute the Moon.
Last weekend, I got out with a great skier-friend of mine and finally “Shot the Moon”! Chute the Moon is hardly radical by TetonAT standards, but I had been staring at (and obsessing about) this aesthetic line on the north side of Peak 10,696 for most of this ski season. Feeding the obsession was the fact that all three of my previous attempts at the descent had turned out to be duds.
Rebecca (of X-Reeders fame) and I got out to hardly an alpine start. Coming off of full weeks of work we both put sleep before an early start, and as we drove away from town around 8am, I mentioned that I fully expected to continue my relationship-of-denial with Chute the Moon for the next three ski seasons.
Thanks to low temps overnight, we were able to skate from Taggart Lake trailhead to where the skin track starts to climb up 25 Short. As we headed towards our destination, bluebird skies started to break above us. I couldn’t help but feel optimistic that today might be “the day” and reminisce about the three “duds” which had proceeded:
Dud #1: The beautiful powder day, midwinter, when Maureen, Devon and I had made the first attempt. Concern about avalanche danger, and gastrointestinal distress after a dinner of Raw Foods the night before, turned us around at the summit of 25 Short. We skied a great powder run down and left with the lesson learned: burgers make our bellies feel better than raw foods.
Dud #2: Three weeks later: Steve and I try for Chute the Moon on a marginal weather day with the hopes that the sun might bust out. No luck. At the top of 25 Short we are greeted by gusting winds, horizontal snow, white out conditions and flat light. We enjoy another stellar powder run down – albeit with the flat light.
Dud #3: Tracy and I try again – 4 weeks later. On the way up we discuss, at length, every possible snow condition we might encounter: condensed powder, dust on crust, breakable crust, light powder, corn, slush. This time we skin to where you drop in, only to find…super breakable wind slab and avalanche debris. Yuck. We ski the corn run, on the opposite aspect, instead.
Duds aside, on this day, as Rebecca and I climbed higher, I realized I had a better feeling in my gut (no reference to dud 1) than any time before. As we rounded the corner under 10,696 and got our first glimpse of the run, I realized my gut was right; it looked AMAZING!
I skied down to where Rebecca was waiting in an island of safety, and then kept the turns going to the bottom. The snow was mostly dense powder on top of frozen avalanche debris, so it kept me on my toes, and it was only as I neared the bottom of the Chute, that I realized, I had finally “Shot” the Moon! Rebecca soon joined me at the bottom, and we whooped down a few more, longer shots with good snow into Avalanche Canyon.
Once we got to Taggart Lake, we took a longer snack break and sat in the warmth – chatting, sitting side by side as we stared at the clouds lifting and descending over the Garnet Canyon peaks. Sitting there, I realized that looking at the Tetons never gets old for me – they are always so heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Rebecca skis below Chute the Moon
I also realized that the fact that those mountains “deny me” at least as often as they reward me, is part of why I love them so much. Even after a season-ending injury in Grand Teton National Park last year, I couldn’t wait to be able to walk again, if only to get back in their midst. Oddly, each denial, or challenging day in the mountains, seems to make days like this one ever so much sweeter. I can’t wait to start attempting my next objective, and start the denial process all over again. -Randokitty