By: randosteve|Posted on: April 29, 2011|Posted in: Avalanche Safety, Weather | 14 comments

Good news Teton skiers! It looks like spring might finally be moving in to the Jackson Hole region next week. (Maybe?) I know it has been a snowy winter and most folks are chomping at the bit to get into the high peaks and hit that line they have been thinking about all season. And with the GTNP inner park road opening on Sunday, I know folks will be out skiing and taking advantage of the great snowpack we still have.

A very reactive snowpack on Tukarika this week.
Click all photos for larger image.

Not to get all preachy and what not, but since the BTNF Avalanche Forecast is no longer running, I just wanted to give a heads up about some recent Teton Range avalanche activity I have heard about. Please consider these events as you plan your next mission into the mountains and think about whether you want to be a bold ski mountaineer…or old ski mountaineer.

Within our current snowpack, there are a variety of different crust layers, both sun and rain, that seem to be rather reactive and I’ve been hearing of both wind and soft slabs pulling out from about 6-20” deep…depending on elevation. While there is some great corn skiing down low, things change pretty dramatically with more loose and wind effected snow once you move above 10k’. Most of the slides I have been hearing about have involved the easterly aspects. Here are a few that might be worth noting.

2,000′ slide path on Static Peak.

4/27, Mount Taylor-East Face. This slide was reported on the Teton/Targhee Conditions thread on TGR by HomeMadeSalsa, an extremely qualified avalanche expert. It was described as a 12-16” wind-slab, possible natural release, and it ran “pretty far.

4/27, Tukarika, East Face. This slide in Open Canyon was reported by word of mouth and email. It was described as an “up to 20” soft-slab”, triggered by a climber stepping off a ridge to get a look at the face and ran “nearly to the flats of the canyon”.

4/28 Static Peak, East Face. This slide was reported by email from a friend. It was described as a 6-20” soft-slab, released above a skier a few turns onto the face and ran about 2,000’. The skier was caught and slid about 1,600’ and ended up getting buried to about the knee with one ski and both pole missing. There were no injuries and all gear was subsequently found at the toe of the slide debris which ran down both sides of the knoll near the bottom of the face.

Anyway, I’m sure there have been a few slides that haven’t been reported (I heard rumors of a possible burial in Chicken Scratch on Mt. Glory this week) and while all of the events above might not produce a deep enough debris pile to bury you completely (but probably can at higher elevations?), they might knock you over and take you for a ride over some obstacles below you that very well might just do some damage to your body. Enjoy next week’s sun and snow folks, but choose your line wisely or give the white dragon some time to settle down before you ski the extreme. Ciao for now…and LIVE TO SKI!!!