Teton Snow Reports 2014

This is not a snow safety report.  Check jhavalanche.org for avy info.

This is a snow quality report, focused on the goods.  Get some!

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Buck Mountain NE Ridge

4:21:14: Buck Mountain, East Face: Today we skied the East Face of Buck Mountain in Grand Teton National Park.  Yesterday a Facebook posting alerted me that it had been skied successfully that morning, and two minutes later my friend Bartleby invited me on a trip he and Ski School Bill were planning up Buck.  I felt the stars aligning, so was happy to tag along.

Taking advantage of an existing bootpack and skier-tested snowpack seemed like a no-brainer, so we met up at 4:30 am and hit the trail hard.  Valley temps had  hit the upper 20s overnight and the snow had refrozen nicely.  Skies were mostly clear aside though a bit of cirrus haze was obscuring some of the stars.  It turned out to be a pretty heavy spray day, as the video below showcases…

Until ~11,000ft the snow was firm and unbreakable.  From there to the summit we found variable breakable crust on 3-5″ of soft snow and debris from the previous day’s large wet slides.  Many of the wet slides appeared to have been skier triggered.  Fortunately temps had gotten cold enough overnight and we were early enough that we had no worries about triggering additional wet slides.

Someone had put an exhilarating bootpack up the East Ridge so we followed that instead of booting straight up the East Face.  The bootpack was pretty deep and appeared to have been last traveled in wet conditions.  The last traveler before us had left detailed bootprints which had not been sun affected at all, indicating that the last party prior to us had made their ascent pretty late the day before.  It appeared that several parties — at least 10 people total — had skied Buck on 4.20.

Skiing from the summit was variable and sketchy: breakable sun crust on 3-5″ of soft snow with lots of debris from previous skier traffic.  After traversing right between the cliffbands, skiing became much better and from ~11,000ft to the valley floor we found perfect, firm but creamy corn.

Down low the snow is getting pretty shallow and many tree wells are totally bare.  I was grateful that we made good time — back to the car by 10:45 am — so I wasn’t sinking my skinny skis into the slush that often forms when shallow snowpack thaws through on the Tetons’ lower flanks.

This was my first attempt to ski a big peak on my new little skis and it went well.   Ascending was easy with such light and maneuverable skis.  The descent was manageable in the sketchy upper portions and extremely enjoyable for the other 4,500 vert back down to the valley floor.

A lot of tracks indicated that people have been skiing powder on shady aspects above ~9,500′.  Even the East Ridge of Buck had soft, powdery, not-too-wind-affected snow hiding on it’s N facing aspects.  With more snow in the forecast we could be in for a bonafied powder day in the near future.

4.20.14: Snow King: Just spun a sunset lap with the dog on Snow King.  GREAT CORN.  It had iced up in the shade so I got to try out my new tiny skis on some steep and sketchy snow.  Probably a good experiment to conduct.

Targhee to Table Mountain Tour4.19.14: Table Mountain: I’ve wanted to tour out to Table for years but really don’t like skinning flats or resorting to using a snowmobile.  The classic route to Table involves four miles of flat travel to and from the peak.  Eight miles of flats doesn’t do it for me, but I’ve wanted to see this view for a long time:

Grand Teton from Table Mountain, Winter 2014
The high peaks from Table Mountain. Best view in the Tetons?

Nightmere and I got a little creative and were able to put together an awesome ~9,000′ day with zero flat travel by starting and finishing at the Grand Targhee Resort parking lot.  We skinned up inbounds and dropped into fun terrain which put us right at the base of Table.  For our return to Targhee we spotted a mellower ridge that brought us up to Mary’s Nipple and a fun early evening descent with Targhee all to ourselves.

Team Red Flag Table Mountain

Conditions were pretty ideal, although the snowpack was pretty shallow down low on South aspects.  A few inches of fresh had blown in the day before, making for fun, creamy turns up high and corny goodness down low.

Today was my first day on Dynafit Race skis (161cm and only 65mm underfoot).  This is a drastic departure from my 196cm skis with 115mm underfoot.  The little skis handled surprisingly well and were actually a lot of fun.  I wouldn’t want to ski them in deep pow though.  Getting on a small, thin ski with normal camber reminded me that I actually do know how to ski.  My technique was a little rusty, so hopefully I can get the little sticks wired in time for attempting lighter, faster descents of the high peaks soon.

Table Mountain N Facing Shots
The Northwest Side of Table Mountain offers some great ski terrain.

Maestra SprintingApril 16th, 2014:  Mount Glory: Glory Bowl, First Turn: White dog was threatening to ravage the trash so we had to put in a little vert today.  Mostly sunny skies with beautiful natural cumulus clouds made for an inspiring day.  I thought Maestra and I were getting after it… until we met a group of brave dudes who were sledding from the summit of Glory today.

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They looked pretty good from the summit down to the SE Ridge bench.  I’m sure things got interesting in Twin Slides, but Maestra and I opted for 1st Turn.  We hit Glory Bowl too.  Both were good and corny aside from refrozen deep tracks and assorted debris.  Some of the fresh snow was a little sticky in spots but for the most part it was fast, supporting, and creamy.

Maestra is stoked out, so hopefully I can go ski a few days in GTNP without her.  Team Red Flag is definitely motivated, but I’m hoping for super stable and safe conditions before straddling the biggest titties.  🙂

 

April 15th, 2014: Snow King Mountain: Great times skiing fun slush on Snow King.  There is still great coverage from top to bottom.  Get some while it lasts, just make sure it’s warm enough to be good.  It snowed a bit late in the day so it might be a little grippy tomorrow.

April 14th, 2014:  Teewinot, East Face (attempt): Today the Marlonboro Man and I attempted the East Face of Teewinot.  We weren’t sure what yesterday’s storm had done up there so we didn’t expect to summit but hoped for the best.

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We left the trailhead on bikes a little before 6:00 am and found the road in great shape aside from a little drifting from N winds and trace snowfall the day before.  It was bitter cold, totally windless, and crystal clear: perfect weather for starting a spring tour.

We saw a plateau of flash frozen piss in the middle of the road which got us surmising that we were not the first to pass this way that day.   At the end of the road we ran into Skippy John who informed us that he’d spotted a pair of headlamps near the Worshipper and Idol Pillars in the rapidly brightening twilight: Guinea Pigs + Existing Bootpack = Great News.

Surprisingly, GTNP had plowed the road most of the way to Lupine Meadows trailhead so we had to skin only a few hundred yards on the flats before hitting the mellow, meadowy incline N of the summer trail up the Apex.

TEEWINOT ALPENGLOW

As the alpenglow hit the mountain we saw what appeared to be a deep bootpack and descending ski tracks by The Worshipper and Idol.  Whoever got an early start had apparently opted to turn around at first light.  This strengthened our concerns that a lot of fresh snow had been deposited on the face during the previous day’s storm, but we were already out of bed and dressed so we kept ascending to assess conditions, take a closer look, and to soak up the alpenglow on a perfectly clear and windless day.

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Skinning was firm and grippy thanks to a dusting of fresh on existing sun crusts.  We did a little booting down low and it was surprisingly supportable everywhere but in the deep shade.  The wooded ridge up the Apex had a few inches of fresh blown around on top of sun crusts.  Once we crested The Apex we saw five ascending skiers gearing up to bootpack below The Worshipper and two more skiers just ahead of us.

The snow was getting deeper (4-6″ average) and drifty but remained quite cold, so we decided to follow the excellent existing skin track up to The Worshipper, and to reassess once we got there.  Upon reaching the small flat spot just below the pillars we noticed that the five skiers ahead of us had turned around near the same point where the early bird duo had: not a good sign.

Marlon and I decided we didn’t want to be “that guy” who dies attempting something 7 people had already backed off of, so we changed over quickly and descended.  I’m assuming that they encountered deep drifts and sketchy windslabs just above the Pillars but am not sure because I didn’t get a chance to ask anyone.

Below the Worshipper and Idol we found 6″ of dust on rock hard chunks of debris.  Yum!  Off the N aspect of the Apex we found six perfect powder turns each followed by a kinda-grabby zipper crust on 3″ of fresh: late afternoon and evening sun from the day before had already nuked our latest snow.  At lower elevations things were softening up nicely and a dusting of fresh had given the existing corn a nice feel.

As we geared up to bike back we spotted a friendly fox who appeared to be hunting the margin between plowed road and 2-3 feet of snowpack.  The fox let us get surprisingly close, and that capped off a great day.

IMG_1497I’m sure there was powder skiing to be had out there today but am not sure what would have been best.  The best snow we found was on N facing aspects around 10k feet.  Some SE aspects also looked fun where heavy drifting occurred.  Fun?  Yes.  Safe?  Not quite, but what is?

April 12th, 2014: Snow King: Today I’d hoped to make an attempt at the East Face of Teewinot.  We planned to bike in and boot right from the bottom unless skinning seemed more efficient.

I got ready last night, woke at 4:30 am and checked the weather.  Temps hadn’t gotten as cool as I’d hoped overnight.  A member of our party bailed because he wasn’t feeling it.  My other partner’s iPhone wouldn’t turn on, so her and I couldn’t coordinate.  I decided to go solo, but my truck wouldn’t start.  Hmmmmm……….

I was back in bed by 5:30, grateful that fate had kept me out of the high peaks for some unknowable reason.

I slept like a lamb until 11 am.  Then Maestra and I skied fun slush on Snow King under mostly cloudy skies.  Good times as always.

April 11th, 2014: Prospector’s, The Banana Couloir: NightMere and I had a great day skiing (mostly) perfect corn in The Banana.  We hit the trailhead at 6:30am and cruised pretty fast which had us dropping in at ~10:20am.  Skies were mostly clear and snow had refrozen well overnight.

Team Red Flag Mountaineering Teton Range

We skinned to Open Canyon and booted up the shot.  Down low old avalanche debris and runnels made for firm booting.  At mid-mountain it was firm everywhere though ESE aspects were warming quicker than S and SW aspects so we transitioned to the ridge East of the couloir.  As we approached the summit high winds made for a cooler crust that was more breakable than it had been down low.  We punched through a bit while booting but not too badly.

Meredith June Edwards Dynafit Athlete

We transitioned quickly up top due to strong winds and concerns that the snow would be too warm on steep sections down low.  We had firm turns on top of crust for the first 500′ and then the corn got progressively more fabulous until we bottomed out in Open Canyon.

From Open Canyon we traversed and sidestepped high right which put us right at the mouth of Granite Canyon and made getting back to the trailhead relatively painless.  Snow was sticky in the sun and slick in the shade down low.  If the weather is clear overnight and into tomorrow morning, The Banana should ski great again tomorrow.

Hopefully the Government Chemtards don’t spray our skies too much overnight.  Today it got pretty bad by mid-morning but skies were relatively clear overhead which kept our snow cooler than it would have been otherwise if an induced-cirrus haze was overhead.

Chemtrails over Grand Teton, April 11, 2014
Chemtrails over Grand Teton, April 11, 2014
Chemtrail dispersion detail
Chemtrail dispersion detail. April 11, 2014
Chemtrails over Jackson Hole, April 11, 2014
Chemtrails over Jackson Hole, April 11, 2014

April 10th, 2014: Prospector’s, Lost Ledges: A few friends and I went to ski The Banana, but none of us has been uo there in years.  We went a little too far up Open Canyon before heading up the North wall and ended up overshooting the Banana but still finding some fun skiing and interesting terrain.  Early morning warming had us racing the sun.  A breakable suncrust down low had me sinking to my knees and crawling like a baby to stay on top more often than not.

As I approached ~8500′  a small storm built over the peaks and strong winds combined with heavy clouds refroze the corn.  I headed down to take a nap and they continued adventuring without me.  It was a good day but I really want The Banana so I’m heading back tomorrow morning.

April 9th, 2014: Snow King, Inbounds Offseason: Cruising creamy corn with the pooch is always a good time.

Just another snow-filled slot in GTNP.
Just another snow-filled slot in GTNP.

April 8th, 2014: GTNP: Alfie and I went to check the shady aspects in GTNP.  The snow was really good top to almost bottom in the shade despite warm temps and “mostly sunny” skies.

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I call the skies “mostly sunny” because the sun was bright despite a high cirrus haze induced by airplanes.   See video.  There’s a little skiing at the end.

I think this unnatural influence from airplanes is worth watching and paying attention to because the these high cirrus hazes trap heat and reradiate it back down to the surface, warming the snow significantly more than we’d see on a true bluebird day.  Let’s consult Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper on the topic:

It’s obvious enough that clouds can prevent much of the radiation from the sun from reaching the snow surface, but much less obvious how clouds block and trap radiation from going in the other direction — from the snow surface to the sky.  When the snow radiates its heat toward the sky, clouds can capture that same radiation and reradiate it back to the ground again, which we call the greenhouse effect.  In other words, we can think of clouds like giant heat lamps in the sky.  The snow surface can become much colder without clouds overhead than with clouds…. 

During the day, the greenhouse effect warms the snow surface most dramatically when the clouds are thin enough to allow some solar radiation to get though but thick enough to capture some of the outgoing radiation as well.  This commonly happens with thin, wispy clouds, such as cirrus, or with a thin layer of fog or low clouds.  For instance, you may be enjoying great, cold powder on a clear day and then when for or thin high clouds appear, suddenly the powder turns into something resembling mashed potatoes.  Usually the air temperature didn’t change very much, just the radiation balance.

— Bruce Tremper, Staying Alive In Avalanche Terrain

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April 7th, 2014: Mt Glory: Hit two SE aspects off Glory to find very good, creamy pow that was bottomless where drifted deep and fun anywhere the bed surface was smooth.  We were a little late on lap two and set off a lot of little rollers that fucked up a face pretty good.  I feel bad about that.  The snow didn’t seem that warm but apparently it was just warm enough to really snowball.

It's easier than it looks but pretty freaky up top with the wind blowing.
It’s easier than it looks but pretty freaky up top with the wind blowing.

A few of us tried skiing the South Side from the lot down.  It was pretty stop and go sticky.  Sticky in the sun, slick in the shade.  Could be pretty crap conditions on most aspects tomorrow.  The Claw looked pretty sexy but we didn’t get out there.  It’s seeing a lot more sun this time of year, especially the steepest and rockiest bits.

April 6th, 2014: Last Box:  I was gifted a Village voucher so I got excited to check out the closing day carnage at JHMR.  Got pulled over by the cops en route and sent back to town for having a less than street legal vehicle.  Fixed up the truck and set out again mid-afternoon and barely caught the last box.  Ski culture was in full-effect from top to bottom.  Good times at JHMR.

I left the mid-mountain party after a few hours and skinned up for a solo 4 Pines to close out the season.  It was mostly dust on refrozen, skied-up crust but where it was blown in it was good.  Should be good on upper elevation SE aspects tomorrow morning on account of the strong WNW winds combined with a few inches of fresh.  All the blowing snow has to wind up somewhere, so go find it.

Why Not?  2014
Why Not? 2014

April 5th, 2014: GTNP: The smile says it all.  How’s Moab?  Valdez?

I’m hoping to do a little travelling this spring but I’ll wait until winter turns off.  Weather was all over the place today.  Maybe 4″ of fresh in GTNP on top of rejuvenated shady snowpacks.  All good.  The new snow seemed fairly stable but who knows what monsters lurk deep beneath.

GTNP April 5th 2014

GTNP April 5th 2014 2

April 3rd, 2014: GTNP: 9975′, N Side, and Shadow, N Side: A friend from Montana and I had a “Big Thursday” and skied two minor peaks in GTNP.  We found perfect pow where it was good and breakable death crust or variable slush where it was bad.  It was bad in most places but we found a few great slots and logged 50% of our vert in heaven and 50% of our vert in hell.

We hit 9975′ first and found a cool route to link up to the ridge leading up to Shadow just before the first steep section.  We saved ourselves several hundred feet of skinning by traversing North instead of heading down to the lake.

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It was cloudy over the high peaks in the morning and burned off in time to take some surreal pictures of deep, dark, beautiful blue skies.

The upper flanks of the Grand Teton.  April 3rd, 2014.  There was one obvious avalanche crown near the middle of the upper snowfield.
The upper flanks of the Grand Teton. April 3rd, 2014. There was one obvious avalanche crown near the middle of the upper snowfield.

We saw a little kookiness had gone down below The Sliver but not near as bad as what I saw the last time I toured to the top of Shadow.

An interesting -- and perhaps not ideal -- choice of route below the Sliver on Nez Perce.  April 3rd, 2014.  These skiers dropped in off the saddle between Shadow's supper and lower summit and opted to traverse and sidestep across the cirque instead of skinning up to the base of the couloir.  Their decision to bootpack up a steep virgin slope and then traverse over a cliff does not seem as sensible as skinning up the fan from the couloir and bootpacking up the firmer and more regularly travelled snow to be found there.
An interesting — and perhaps not ideal — choice of route below the Sliver on Nez Perce. April 3rd, 2014. These skiers dropped in off the saddle between Shadow’s supper and lower summit and opted to traverse and sidestep across the cirque instead of skinning up to the base of the couloir. Their decision to bootpack up a steep virgin slope and then traverse over a cliff does not seem as sensible as skinning up the fan from the couloir and bootpacking up the firmer and more regularly travelled snow to be found there.

April 2nd, 2014: Mt Glory, NE Ridge: Variable and pretty crummy top to valley floor.  I don’t strike out too often but this was one of those days.  It was colder than it has been, mostly cloudy, and snowing off and on.  Up high there were a few inches of fresh but not enough to cover up the breakable sun crusts below.  Down low the sun crusts were less breakable so it was more bearable skiing, but not exactly fun.  I should have stayed in the shade.

I saw some people choosing a rather sketchy spot to dig a pit and hang out for ~20 minutes so I took a few pictures of the situation.

Teton Pass Cornice Kooks 2 Teton Pass Cornice Kooks

They were on a cornice over Telemark Bowl, which definitely isn’t the most slideprone slope but a cornice as  large as the one pictured could definitely do some damage if it broke.  What do you think about two people hanging out on a cornice like this?

April 1st, 2014: Mt Glory, Big Piney: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If the pow is perfect and seems stable compared to the carnage elsewhere, why ski anywhere else?  Nabbed two laps off Glory that were top to bottom good.

It got warm once we hit the traverse out Coal Creek but that made the luge track even more fun.  Lots of sun on the snow made for crummy skiing on aspects that got a lot of it once things cooled down again.

It’s snowing again so the shady spots should be even better tomorrow.  Surprisingly uncrowded on The Pass due to Gapril Fools.  I avoided Gaper Day because I usually have way too much fun (aka, Dr. McGillicuddy) and end up hurting myself.  The year I gave myself skier’s thumb on both hands simultaneously comes to mind.  I think I’ll stick with sobriety and soft snow from now on.

Spotted several crowns that generated a lot of debris on Taylor.  These shots detail just a few of them.  Caveat lector, especially if you’re skiing tomorrow.

taylor mountain crowns

Taylor Mountain Avalanches Taylor_Avalanche_April_1st

I don't think I'll be testing cornices via this method any time soon.
I don’t think I’ll be testing cornices via this method any time soon.

March 31st, 2014: Mt Glory, Big Piney:  Lots of slide activity in the Tetons lately so I kept it conservative and skied perfect pow in Big Piney.  Most of the major slide paths on Taylor had ripped naturally near the summit.  It looked like cornice falls had triggered most of the slides.  The mountains got sun for part of yesterday and it was above freezing at the Coal Creek parking lot.  It will probably be crusty on a lot of aspects that saw sun today but still fresh in the trees at mid and upper elevations.  I’ll be taking it nice and easy.

March 30th, 2014: Mt Glory, NE Ridge: Lots of snow and wind today.  Some people were skiing Glory Bowl (which I think is nuts in a storm) so my partner and I opted to hug the NE Ridge.  We kicked off a small soft slab in the SE facing chute (mostly filled in at the moment) at the steepest portion of the Ridge before it drops down into denser trees.  It was bottomless in spots and not so bottomless in others.  Hopefully we get a few more inches to make it bottomless everywhere.

March 28th, 2014: Shadow Peak, NE Ridge: Four of us went for a tour up Shadow and encountered an even larger group of seven that was ascending.  There was a foot of fresh on the upper mountain and a few inches at the parking lot.  Pretty stormy day.  As we neared the upper saddle we spotted a few people putting in a pretty sketchy skin track on the windloaded, steep lower summit knob.  We opted to change over at the saddle and skied the NE Ridge down.  We found perfect pow at upper elevations transitioning to wet, heavy snow on firm crusts at lower elevations.  Down low the skiing was fun where it was smooth but not so fun where debris or other tracks made for a more jarring experience.

March 27th, 2014: Canstack, NE Ridge to a few N Shots: We skinned up the NE ridge until just below the trees disappear from the ridge and things get steeper before the little cliffband choke. At lower elevations until mid-mountain the fresh snow was bonding well to a warm and wet snowpack. From ~7500 up we started getting 4-6 inch sluffs to run very easily on NE aspects that got some sun and refroze before this storm moved in. Pure shady spots seemed more stable, but those NE and even straight E aspects that see sun but cooled down were popping off consistently and easily.  At our high point winds were variable and strong enough to move the snow around consistently.

I’ll be very wary of anything that could have a sun crust of any kind, especially at upper elevations where the snow came in cooler.  I think the sketchiest spots on the East side of the Tetons are the fins and ridgelets on N aspects that get a few hours of sun every day this time of year.   Up high in general it will be sketch due to slick, refrozen crusts.  Today the skiing was variable but OK.   Dust on crust, dust on windstripped up high, a few perfect turns lurking where sun and wind didn’t affect the base too much.

Forecast looks pretty snowy and moderately windy through the weekend.  I think a lot of stuff is going to rip big on these crusts if we get the snow and wind that’s supposedly coming.  Be safe out there.

mountain weather forecast march 27, 2014

March 26th, 2014: Snow King: Surprisingly good corn on Snow King due to warm overnight temps and a bit of sun over town.  Storm is coming in so I’m praying that it’s cold enough to snow instead of rain.  Skinning Snow King is always a good time, and hopefully we’ll be skiing it for at least the next month.

March 25th, 2014: GTNP, 9975′: My friend Griswaldi and I went to do a little snow surface recon before the latest storm comes in.  This week’s forecast is for colder temps and more snow, which I’m wary of because the surface is so variable out there right now.  Everyone and their brother was apparently going for lines in the high peaks and it sounds like a lot of people got turned around.  Strong winds from a variety of directions made SW-NW slopes at higher altitudes look painfully wind-affected.  SSE slopes up high looked sketchily windloaded and sun-affected to me: crusty windslabs on top of sugar on top of previous sun crusts doesn’t sound too fun to me so I’m watching the guinea pigs.

We skied N into the deep dark and found a 50/50 blend of perfect sugary turns and wind-affected shite.  The good snow was good almost top to bottom but got really sticky in Avalanche Canyon where the sun gets on it again.

The skies were atrocious.  See video for timelapses of blatant weather modification occurring covertly.  One Love.  Peace.

*** These videos are best viewed in full screen HD. ***

March 24th, 2014: Snow King, Inbounds Offseason: Now that Hill Climb Weekend is over (whew!) Snow King is closed.  The patrollers are cleaning up the slopes today and a lot of skiers were enjoying the uphill.  Bright sun and minimal wind got me thinking we were in for a creamy experience but it was surprisingly firm today.  Not bad skiing but more crusty than creamy.  Dropped in at 3pm and it was still firm for all but the bottom pitch.  Today’s Mountain Weather forecast calls for snow starting tomorrow night.  Hopefully it doesn’t piss rain down low.  Praying for cool temps and soft snow.

mountain weather

March 23rd, 2014: Canstack, N Shots:  I was concerned that the snow would suck today but it was quite good in protected shady areas.  Strong winds up high have stripped and slabbed the upper reaches and low elevations are dusty/crusty even in the shade.  Great corn on ESE aspects at lower elevations.  Hero pow in the shade.  Saw a really interesting natural cloud formation interacting with an equally interesting jet trail.  See video below.  One Love.

March 22nd, 2014: Mt. Glory, Big Piney: Super variable conditions.  Lots of wind scouring on upper flanks.  Sun crust on W-S-E slopes unless they have a little bit of N to them.  Straight N and shady protected spots are skiing PRIMO at mid-elevations and rather wet/heavy down low in Coal Creek drainage.  Spotted a small slide on the E flanks of Taylor that appears to have went naturally.  There were lots of tracks in the vicinity but none visible coming in from above the crown.  See photo.

A small avalanche on Taylor Peak, Teton Pass, 3.22.14
A small avalanche on Taylor Peak, Teton Pass, 3.22.14

March 21st, 2014: Chemtrail Induced Day Off: Today we have an obviously heavy spray day so I’m resting up and avoiding breathing as much as possible.  See attached video documentation.  There’s a little recent skiing in it too.   FYI, the skiing footage is just filler in hopes of getting people to listen to the wise words of good songs. 🙂

March 20th, 2014: The Canstack: Went out with Dr. Doughnuts and DDR for a tour of The Beeramid.  Suncrusted down low.  Windfucked up high.  Perfect shady pow at mid-elevations.  Good hot pow on firm on the way out.  It started to cloud up so we got out of there before the sun-affected snow iced up.  Great ski day with great friends.

Dani DeRuyter Photo

March 19th, 2014: GTNP, Shadow: Great skiing at mid elevations in the shade.  It got warm and we saw some extreme kookiness going on that’s worth noting.  A group set a skin track up the summit knob slidepath of Shadow and it looked super sketchy, especially with all the fresh snow drifted in on previous sun crusts.

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Sketchy skin track up the big slide path on Shadow Peak, GTNP.
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Sketchy skin track up Shadow Peak. Note the small sluff. SE aspects are super windloaded from strong NW winds during the last storm.

We hit the summit of Shadow at 2pm and saw more sketchiness going down in The Sliver on Nez Perce.  A group of 5 snowboarders had followed an existing skintrack to the base of the couloir and were changing over to ascend.  This was certainly late in the day to be getting a start up The Sliver on account of intense spring sun and light winds.  The big rock SSE facing rock walls on the Sliver absorb a lot of heat which affects the snow there.

Even sketchier was the existing bootpack up the hanging snowfield just South of The Sliver.  Instead of taking the standard route up the couloir, two previous snowboarders had billygoated out of the couloir and proceeded up a very windloaded snowfield over a large cliff.  The sluffs they kicked off reveal that the fall line goes over the cliff, vs a clean fall line in the couloir itself.  You couldn’t pay me to put in a bootpack like that.  See photos.  More analysis of this day will be going up asap in hopes of raising awareness.

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2pm on March 19th, 2014: a group of 5 snowboarders starting their ascent of The Sliver on Nez Perce. Air temps were below freezing, winds were light and variable, and the sun was very intense. In my opinion this group would have been wiser to get here by 10am instead of 2pm.
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A rather kooky bootpack up the ridge to the S of the Sliver Couloir in GTNP. Note sluffs from the bootpack indicating that the fall line goes off a large cliff. Also note the billygoating necessary to get back into The Sliver at the sketchiest pocket within the couloir itself. Not safe in my opinion.
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2:30 pm: Interesting group dynamics in GTNP. I wonder what they’re discussing.

 

bad_backcountry_safety_grand_teton_national_park
2:31pm on March 19, 2014: the group of 5 splitting up. I think the three forging a new bootpack are making a better call than the two headed out left. An even better call would be to pull the plug and come back to The Sliver earlier in the day when solar heating of fresh, heavily-wind-loaded snow would not be as concerning.

We watched the show until ~2:35pm and then dropped in to the NE Ridge of Shadow.  We would have stayed longer but solar heating of the summit knob snowfield was starting to sketch us out.  Good run.

March 18th, 2014: Glory, Coal Creek Drainage: Today the crack of noon club experienced interesting conditions on Teton Pass.  We got a good foot of fresh above 9000′ in the last 48 hours but the wind has whipped for most of the last 48 hours.  Strong winds from the WSW dropped to calm for a few hours before strong winds from the NW moved in to the area.  Pretty wild and atypical wind signatures out there right now.

jackson_hole_snow_reports_rendezvous_mountain_weather station

Where it was deep today it was deep.  Where it was blown off there was only the faintest dusting on the crusting.  Best snow seemed to be hiding on SW slopes on upper flanks of Glory and on all aspects at lower elevations unless the wind really hammered an area.  Shady protected trees are skiing as good as the have all winter.  Get some while it lasts.  Cooler temps are forecast but that spring sun has a way of trashing the snow regardless of how cool the air temp is.

March 14th, 2014: Canstack, E Ridge: Crusty where sun-kissed.  Creamy goodness in the deep shade.  Good corn where the sun was consistently strong.  It started clouding up in the evening and it looks like we’re in for another small storm.  We need it because conditions deteriorated over the last 24 hours.

March 13th, 2014: Canstack, N Shots: Perfect soft snow in deeply shaded areas, great creamy corn in pure sun.  Variable crap everywhere in between.

Buck Mountain Avalanche Canyon Grand Teton National Park
Buck Mountain and S Fork of Avalanche Canyon from 25 Short: March 12 2014

MARCH 12th, 2014: GTNP, 9975′, N side: Solo toured up 9975′ and dropped into the dark side.  Great skin tracks up the peak and I noticed a track going up both forks of Avalanche Canyon from the summit.  Warm and relatively windless, bright blue skies.  There’s a dusting of fresh down low and a good foot of fresh up high.  Surprisingly little wind scouring, crusting, or loading visible from up top.  Skied a contrived shot straight N and found great snow almost top to bottom.  “Almost” because it was dust on crust for the last 200′ of the shot and on the sidehill racetrack out Avalanche Canyon.  All in all a good day and shady stuff from 11k-8k should be skiing great again tomorrow.  Go get some.

MARCH 11th, 2014: Mt Glory, Coal Creek: A little windaffected up high, quite sun affected down low.  Pure powdery pleasure in between.  Saw a few sluffs that had ripped on Taylor.  I’m sure there will be a lot of slide activity on sunny slopes with a foot of fresh baking on sun crusts.  Be safe out there and keep it shady for the best snow.

SKIPPED A FEW MONTHS: I was sick for a few weeks which made me lose stoke and hindered my knowledge of the snowpack.  Then the snow was so good for so long that there wasn’t much need to do these reports.  Now I’m back in the saddle for the spring season.

JANUARY 12th, 2014: HOLED UP AT HOME: Staying home today is a no brainer.  Heaps of new snow + high winds + widely varying temps = let someone else guinea pig today.  Click image for full size.

good day to stay home

JANUARY 11th, 2014: MT GLORY:  Interesting day.  Raining in town around noon.  Teton Pass was windless, warm, and cloudy until ~1:30pm and then it got crazy.  Heavy snow and high winds out of the West.  We opted to ski back down the bootpack and into Kate’s Run because it didn’t feel safe anywhere else.  Recent low density snow got covered with warmer, wetter windslabs resulting in windscoured aspects and an upside down snowpack with dense slabs on loose pow.  I’m going to be very careful for the next few days.

JANUARY 10, 2014: TETON PASS: Best day of the year so far?  Deep and blower.  Slide on ~E aspect by Ski Lake.  Saw a few small point releases on SE aspects of Glory.   See video.

JANUARY 9, 2014: REST DAY:  Still fighting the crud.

JANUARY 8, 2014: THE CANSTACK: Great conditions top to mid-mountain.  Down low it got wet and heavy.  Snowing intermittently.  Warm down low.  Windy up high.

JANUARY 7, 2014: THE CANSTACK: Great conditions top to bottom on NE aspects though a little thin down low.   Windhammered at the tippy top.

JANUARY 2nd-6th, 2014: SICK DAYS Literally sick with the chemtrail crud that’s going around town.  Stoked to get healthy and out there.

JANUARY 1, 2014: THE CANSTACK Went back to the Canstack with my ladyfriend to do a little pruning and poking around.  Beautiful blue sky morning with little fluffy (natural) clouds and only a few little lingering hash marks in the sky (evidence of advanced air mass monitoring techniques).  We got a late start and by 11 am it was getting HOT.  A few inches of fresh from yesterday evening got super sticky and it was getting heavy and unstable so we turned around 1/3rd of the way up.  Heading back through TOJ at 1pm the bank thermometer said 38*F but I bet it was even a little hotter than that.  Stuff is definitely getting nuked and I bet we’ll see some big slides reported tomorrow morning, especially on S and E facing aspects that are experiencing a ton of heat right now.  At the time of writing this (2pm) there is increasing evidence of aerial spraying over Teton Pass.  I just set up a camera and am planning to make a timelapse.  Will post it when it’s done.

DECEMBER 31, 2013: THE CANSTACK Puking out with strong winds from the West. Went to explore the Beeramid but it needs more snow. I’d say at least another two feet on the lower mountain necessary before it’s safe. If you head out there bring a machete or saw and help improve the in/out on the lower flanks. It is in rough shape and could use a major pruning. Looks like most people have been going up the Canyon on the S Side to access the peak. Noticed a pretty kooky skin track (in my opinion) on the E side central ridge. I guess it’s OK but prefer skiing down that ridge instead of up it. Stomped in what I consider the standard skin track until the upper snowfield where I decided not to tempt fate and stopped short of the summit. Deep snow for most of the descent but not enough on the lower mountain. Got into some steeps where it was really sugary on top of dirt/rocks/plants. No real base sugary to ground at lower elevations where it didn’t get much sun and there hasn’t been much total snowfall.

DECEMBER 28, 2013: 25 SHORT Crowded in GTNP. Warm and humid down low but pretty good skiing. I think a lot of stuff below midmountain that sees sun is going to get sunfucked. Wind affected up high. Skied one of my favorite N facing lines and it’s officially in. Saw avy debris just North of Turkey Shoot and on the N aspects of 25 Short dropping into Avalanche Canyon. Good day but damn there are a lot of people out there. Definitely pretty tracked up on the standard descents so it might be time to head further North into the good good goods.

DECEMBER 26, 2013: Shadow Peak

Sunrise from Shadow Peak, GTNP on 12.26.2013.  Two avalanche fatalities took place a few miles South of GTNP that day.
Sunrise from Shadow Peak, GTNP:12.26.2013

Pulled an all-nighter after work and went for a sunrise ski in GTNP. Kept it casual and stuck to the shallow ridges on account of the lingering avalanche danger. Great ski, home by 11am, and slept all afternoon. Woke up to discover that two avalanche fatalities took place in the Tetons that day. See attached link for my thoughts on the situation.  https://tukadika.com/2013/12/27/two-wydaho-avalanche-deaths-on-12-26-2013-can-social-media-save-lives/

All prior days (dating back to 2009) are accessible here at SkiingTheBackcountry.com

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Reality-Based News, and Resolutionary Views from Jackson Hole, WY.

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