Randosteve skis next to the West Horn while descending Drizzlepus on Mount Moran.
Click all photos for larger image.
Drizzlepus, a feature on the south-side of Mount Moran has been on my hit-list for a long time. It sits just west of the Falling Ice Glacier and the West Horn, and is a point that many visit in the summer on their way to climb the CMC route. It’s quite a popular place in the summer, but pretty much human-free once the flakes start flying in the fall. Access to this line is very long during the winter months, so it seems logical that one would wait until the inner park road is plowed to giver’ a go. I always thought I would ski this line in corn snow…but with our own Pedal-Pole-Pedal event this week, my partners and I went for it…and it was powder skiing.
The day started with a cold and dark bike ride to the String/Leigh Lake Trailhead. About 2-3 feet of snow is still on the ground in that area and hopefully it will stick around for a bit to allow for some good bike-to-bike skiing this spring. We opted to skate across the lakes on our AT gear to try to save time, but a fresh skiff of cold and abrasive snow seemed to slow us down a little. Never-the-less, we made good time and were standing at the bottom of Moran in just over 2 hours.
John Walker skates toward Moran in morning light.
The skin is up a steep gully to start, but after a bit, you rise into more open terrain and can throw some switchbacks in to make things a little less taxing. Higher up, above the summer route and closer to the Falling Ice Glacier, we transitioned to bootpacking as things really began to kick back up again. New snow from a few days ago was slowly starting to heating up and we were currently exposed to some danger from above, so it was little unnerving until we could gain a ridge further to the west.
Booting towards Drizzlepus with the CMC route and dike poking up behind it.
Finally, we reached safer terrain and continued upward. The dike and CMC route began to come into view and the West Horn rose up like a dagger stabbing the sky. As we gained elevation, the snow got deeper and there was about a foot of powder that seemed to be holding up well, considering this was the second day of clear skies since it fell. A wind-loaded pocket of deeper snow near the top, and above some exposure made us a little jittery, but with persistence, we plowed through and reached the top of the Drizzlepus.
The views of the CMC face exploded in front of us at the top, and anyone that has ever been on this point knows what I’m taking about. I occasionally think about making an attempt at skiing the CMC (for its second descent), so it was nice to get a close up view when it’s covered with snow. Unfortunately, we couldn’t dilly-dally for too long since things were warming up, so we pushed off and began moving downhill.
Randosteve scores powder turns in front of the Grand Teton
Playing things safe, a ski cut assured us that the snow would stay put, but not enough to not look back every few turns to make sure it stayed that way. Lower down, things were a little less bonded and a few slides gained momentum and ripped over the cliffs below us. It was imperative that we didn’t get in front of them and the safe skiing was found on the bed surface where the snow had already slid.
Cameron Millard gets his turn.
Once we were below the technical terrain, there was less new snow and we skied perfect corn down to Leigh Lake, before making our way back to the bikes. Unfortunately, when we arrived back at the trailhead, we found out that I had locked my keys in the car, making the wait for softer footwear and a beer that much longer. Luckily, some kind folks gave us ride back into town where I picked up a spare set. Long day…but very enjoyable.
All smiles on the way back. Red dots indicate our descent route.
Sweet Trip Steve, Snow Up High Looked Pretty Nice. Man,I think I Would Have Been Smashing Glass, If That’s What It Took To Get To A Frosty One And A Pair Of Tennies. Of Course You Are A Wiser Man Than Me.
Nice one steve! just a euro question is the CMC the route goining from the top of the mountain?
hEY jt, wHATS uP wITH yOUR kEYBOARD?
gilles…yes, the CMC route is on the steep face skier’s right of the dike feature. its first and only descent was done by Hans Johnstone, Bill Dyer, Kent McBride and the late, great Doug Coombs in may of 2002. pretty spicy!!!
Ah Gringo, You Are One Of The Observant Ones. Weird Habit I Developed Years Ago And Have Been Unable To Break. I Hope It Doesn’t Come Across Like I Am Shouting The First Letter Of Every Word. I Have Even Gone As Far As Disabling My Shift Key, Only To Resort To Using The Caps Lock Key Instead. I Fear I Can’t Be Cured !
Awesome post Steve! Although not as rancorous as AT vs. T, your trip reports set you apart.
We freed CMC a few summers ago (not a big deal in the summer) but was humbled to think Coombs and Co. had Skied it. Drizzlepuss alone is a serious day on skiis. Looks like the upper Mtn is losing snow. Does it ‘glide avalanche’ in the spring?
I remember when the CMC was skied very vividly…. Hard to believe its almost 10 years ago!
regarding the CMC descent…i’m not sure if they rapped any of it or not.
i’m not sure what a ‘glide avalanche’ is…but the CMC is steep and mostly slabby rock…so not much snow sticks to it and is probably only a few inches deep in sections…which adds to the spice.
Steve: FYI– Glide avalanches:
“Glide occurs when the entire snowpack slowly slides as a unit on the ground, similar to a glacier. Don’t mistake glide for the catastrophic release of a slab avalanche that breaks to the ground. Glide is a slow process, that usually occurs over several days. Glide occurs because melt water lubricates the ground and allows the overlying snowpack to slowly “glide” downhill. Usually, they don’t ever produce an avalanche but occasionally they release catastrophically as a glide avalanche. So the presence of glide cracks in the snow do not necessarily mean danger. It’s often difficult for a person to trigger a glide avalanche but at the same time it’s not smart to be mucking around on top of them and especially not smart to camp under them.”
Now You Know,
thanks! sounds like…an avalanche. 🙄
Great TR Steve. Really cool formations up there. Digging the tilt-shift thing you have been doing with some of the photos in your recent TRs.
me too nick…THANKS! i really like how it focuses your attention on certain things. not all photos take to the tilt-shift thing…but i really like the one in this post. this one…
How do you tilt-n-shift with your point-n-soot?
Fake it in post?
Sorry bro. If spell-checker doesn’t catch it, I’m lost.
Nice job guys, pretty burly day! Is the road plowed from signal mtn to string lk?
the upper CMC is basically all 5th class slabs. kinda dangerous for a ski descent don’t ya think? any other lines in the Tetons that you’d say compare in terms of the underlying terrain. Has the glacier route ever been skied on the Middle Teton?
BigD…i fiddle with the image in photoshop…for the tilt-shift effect.
thanks brandon. yeah…the road is plowed.
the middle teton glacier has been skied many time. there is even a video!!! 🙂