We get a charge out of putting it all together. Isn’t it the process, the mystery in the journey that engages us? – The NE face of Bloodshaw and the NW Couloir of Peak O seemed so far from access points. The Gore mountain Range is so far away right? I was first inspired to ski these two lines a couple years ago while driving by the Gore Mountains. You know, rubbernecking with an eye for the biggest and best ski lines you can spy. During the pre trip route finding research we found no record of prior descents. Perfect. (surely they’ve been skied, how could the biggest faces in the range be overlooked) When there is no trail or skin track to the summit, no info available on how to navigate the complex face, and no complete photos to show if the line even goes, you know your in for a memorable day. – The rugged approach comes together and we are standing on the nearly 13,000′ summit, way out there, somewhere in the Gore Mountain Wilderness. I’m now staring down the barrel of the towering North East face of Bloodshaw. It’s powder from the summit, so we asses its stability, again. We trust each other’s judgement. We’d better be right. I look down 3,600′ to the river bed below. This line feels heavy, it feels different than some others. I pause for a moment to take in this place, the gravity, the moment of a mystery being realized. Does it go? – I roll in on cold soft powder, when all I’ve seen lately is corn or a little tired old storm snow. Floaty and smooth, way out there, exposed on this towering face, it was like skiing in suspended disbelief. We found our way through chutes, over ribs, around cliffs and eventually down to the massive run out and last steep pitch to the Slate River. What a ski run. And those conditions! We transition and search for a place to cross. It’s a ways to go to gain Peak O. Plenty of time to wonder of its North West Couloir. What will it ski like? Two more couloirs to get there… Once we gain the ridge can we climb to the summit? It’s a long ways out from west of Black Lake. I really hope it goes.
Jason and Andy Dorais and Tom Goth and I seem to share an insatiable appetite for ski mountaineering in a light full throttle style. We seem to to line up mountains and stack ski lines to march through with non stop enthusiasm and group mega stoke! This adventure found us taking brakes cooking and skiing in the dark. We were still able to complete a good sized enchainment and the down time along the way was a bit chilly, and awesome!
After a mid afternoon start from Salt Lake we drove to the Tagart Lake Trail head. After quickly packing and splitting group climbing gear and a stove we shoved off at about 2:15PM. After shouldering the packs up the South Teton we skied the NW down to the col. The crew of Andy Dorais, Tom Goth and Jason Dorais and I then booted up the South West Couloir of the Middle Teton in the waining low light. From the summit of the Middle Teton we were treated to a stunning sunset. After rapping in from the towering dark summit we clicked in. It was a surreal experience to ski the cold soft snow on the Glacier Route on the East face by starlight. Once we reached the foot of the Grand Teton we took turns manning the stove and napping while we brewed up some food and water and dozing off for a few hours. Well Tom and I manned the stove while Jason and Andy enjoyed their reclined position in our little pseudo biv snow hole. It’s ok, as they pull their share and then some. The Night air ushered us up the Teepee Glacier to the Stettner Couloir up the Ice bulges of the Chevy and on to the Ford where we climbed to our second snow hole to kill some darkness just below the summit rock. So now it’s about 4am and shiver-bivi only lasted an hour or two until Andy jumped up and shouted “I can’t do this any more I’m skiing!” We taped to summit, looked around at the stars since the stunning Grand Teton ariel views were covered in darkness, and skied off into the icy abyss. Sounds moons but it wasn’t bad as we all had skied it a few times prior. I had only skied it once, though it’s the kind of line that becomes forever etched into my mind. It felt so familiar, like an old friend you once feared and now love. While skiing the Ford Couloir in the total dark I closed my eyes to see the views I’ve seen during daylight adventures there. Turns out the feeling of exposure on a steep icy line goes away in the dark. The sun painted these iconic peaks of the Grand Teton National Park while we rappelled the Chevy Couloir. the word ‘grace’ came to mind. How lucky are we, to move through and take in this beauty? Once back on the Teepee Glacier we skated along the glazed ‘never gonna corn up today) surface to the Dike Couloir and out Glacier Gulch and breakfast at the Bunnery in Jackson Hole.
We completed The Teton Trifecta in a long overnight style quite different than our usual light and fast speed touring ways. And it sure was a unique ski mountaineering adventure. Switch up the style and who knows what we’ll experience!
The Landry Line on Pyramid 14,018′ Maroon Bells Wilderness Colorado. We made a rare descent of this iconic North American ski line last April.
Photo Ted Mahon and Chris Davenport taken from an airplane while we were a couple hundred feet from the summit.
It is 4000′ line that runs continuously steep to the valley bottom and listed in Davenport’s 50 Classic ski descents of North America. It ranks as one of the heaviest lines I’ve skied anywhere. My best ski partner Michael Schilling and I made the crucial Avy/snow forecast from many miles away with local info and the ever improving accessible weather and snowpack data. We said “its on!” and he drove to Aspen from Breckenridge and I from SLC meeting at the trail head and skiing the 5 miles in at 10pm. When we arrived we verified it might go! We bivied for a few hours and cast off at 5AM.