By: randosteve|Posted on: May 13, 2009|Posted in: Middle Teton, The Tetons | 15 comments

Skiing off the summit of the Middle Teton.

middle teton southwest couloir from treasure mountain bowlAfter skiing the South Teton, we looked at our watches and decided we had time for one more run before other commitments needed to be respected. Our mission was to boot up the Southwest Couloir of the Middle Teton and then ski it…all the way to Icefloe Lake , making it a 2200′ shot. Leaving us deep in the South Fork of Cascade Canyon, we would then tour to the south and catch Avalanche Canyon back to the trailhead and civilization. I don’t think the lower section of the Southwest gets skied very much, but on a trip to Treasure Mountain Bowl on the west side of the Tetons last week, I noticed it was filled in.

The rime on the exposed faces of the Middle always offers such cool visuals, and the trickle of it pinging down the slope kept us preoccupied as we ascended. Finding our rhythm, we booted through boot deep powder mixed with sun crust until we found ourselves at the summit. Needing to boogie, we dug-in next to the summit boulder, clicked in and buckled down. After a zig-zag route through the rocky and exposed upper section, we entered the Southwest Couloir. From our vantage point, we could see all the way down to Icefloe Lake, a cool perspective to say the least.



Variable snow conditions had us skiing powder in the gut, crust in the shade and fantastic corn on the skiers right where the sun had hit the slope the longest. After skiing the upper couloir, we exited onto the more open slopes where people most of the time head to the skiers left, back into the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. Our plan was to continue downward and ski the lower couloir through the cliffs above Ice Floe Lake to the west.

Being well protected by the rock walls on both sides and west facing, the upper section of the couloir was quite crusty and some side-slipping was entailed in order to negotiate the narrows at the top. Once deep in the couloir, conditions improved and we linked smooth turns on softer snow passing a cool pinnacle on the skiers left side. The vast expanse of white snow as we finished the run at Ice Floe Lake messed with our depth-of-field and what seemed like a short slope to the lake turned into quite a bit of vertical on amazing spring snow.

Glider over the Middle Teton.

Taking a few minutes at the lake to enjoy the sun, the mountains, and the moment, in an area where few people ski, it was completely silent. Out of the silence we heard a strange noise above and when we looked up, we saw a glider arcing turns over the South and Middle Teton before flying directly above us on its way north. For some reason, maybe it was the silence, it felt very surreal and was a perfect ending to an epic day. Except that it wasn’t quite the end, as we still had to ski back into Avalanche Canyon and to the Taggert Lake Trailhead. Lucky for us, the skiing was unbelievably good the whole way.