Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Runneling the Tetons

We had been hearing that the Tetons had a good snow year and were at 175% of normal snowpack and that people were galloping up and down the Grand, so as the temps climbed and the snowpack declined in the Wasatch we looked to get out and check out our northern neighbors without an agenda or grand ambitions.  Of course, that also meant that we needed to check in with Drew, since not only is his place one of the nicest little cabins on the planet on the edge of Lupine Meadows, but he's a stellar host as well.  And if you happen to have an issue, it's not often to have a friend who had received a Medal of Valor from the Department of the Interior!

Our first morning we were awakened by the sound of munching:

An elk more interested in us than the nice view of Teewinot
 We were a little surprised at how high the snow line was, but we found later that it's been quite warm and dry in the Tetons for the last month and the snowpack went from "big" to "average".  Not a big deal, just a bit more walking in shoes.

One of the biggest problems with going to a place like that is with so many amazing choices, what to do?  We were on a pretty mellow, recon-sort of pace, and decided that Disappointment Peak - right in the heart of the "big" peaks there, with amazing views and some good ski options - was the best bet to start on.  A nice moderate hike through the woods and some challenging skinning perched on the rims between tree wells brought us to a nice view of our intended line:
The "football field"and the Spoon Couloir spilling off of it above Surprise Lake, or maybe Amphitheater lake; I can't remember.... 
so it was good that we had a burly mountain man to point out the obvious:
"look!  there it is!"
We charged on up and indeed had amazing views:

agape-ing at the views, and apparently looking for my bike
 One of the things about spring skiing is the possibility of runnels and sun cups.  I think we were a little late this season, because they were around in abundance.  That super-mellow football field was actually pretty challenging, since - as Colin put it - it's like trying to ski back and forth across inconsistent railroad tracks.  But finally we got to the couloir, which was a bit less cupped.
Colin navigating the smaller railroad tracks
It had softened enough that the small runnels were buffable. 
It's a fun line
 On our way out we saw a bunch of folks - including little kids -postholing in the deepening afternoon slop on a nice family hike somewhere in the vicinity of a trail that was several feet deep.  We felt like calling Drew to tell he and his Jenny Lake rescue team to not make any plans for that evening since they might be busy!

We then decided to head for nearby Buck Peak, since it looked like there was not only more snow up there but also a bit more north facing lines that may not be as cupped/runnelled.  As it turned out, we got nearby, but a small storm moved in:
And following our noses through the fog got us to....Static Peak.  Which was fine; there's a great line off the top of that as well.  But the Runnelfest continued in a bit bigger way, and while it was nice to boot up the "tracks" and we could sorta clamp the whippets on either side of the runnel ribs it was pretty dicey skiing.
Possible cover photo for Runnel Magazine?  
 We did find one short, south facing shot that had softened enough and wasn't quite as beat up:

 And again the views were amazing and the recon was really helpful.  We just need to get up there a little earlier next time.

That night we were hosted by Zinnia and her trail crewmates up on the Blackrock river, where we feasted on meat that was brewed all-night in a pit barbecue that would have made any Texas or Southern pit barbecuers proud:

Another fun run along the Valley trail (which I regretfully bypassed last summer on a great circumnav run with Jason and Jared) and nice jaunt up the dramatic Death Canyon and we were heading for the barn.

However, for a variety of reasons I had never been in Jackson at the time when the legendary Kings Wave was firing, so by coincidence the river was at an optimum level and we had our boats, so we did a nice surf session
It may look like just sitting there, but I swear....I'm doing something!  
At least this looks like something is happening
Brother Paul having a Riot
It's nice the whitewater kayaking  is dying enough to the point that such an awesome wave with a phat eddy was nearly empty on a Sunday afternoon!

Thanks again to Drew and Zin for their great hosting and to Paul and Colin for the fun weekend and all the above pics!

No comments:

Post a Comment