July 2, 2008
By Kent McBride
Eight years ago while guiding at Jackson Hole Ski Area I met David Learned and his son Kevin. David skied like a Jackson Hole local from his many days of training at Killington and annual heli-ski trips to Alaska. Kevin already had his father’s turn and learned how to jump from his freestyle coach. We’ve been able to ski together almost every season and have ticked off many steep runs at the ski area. Kevin nailed Corbet’s Coulior at age nine. This past June Kevin, now 17, returned to Jackson to learn about rock/alpine climbing and ski mountaineering. Since it was just the two of us, we were able to accelerate the learning process in all three disciplines. After climbing down in the valley, we headed higher into the Tetons. Because Jackson had such a good snow pack (+600 inches for the season), the skiing high in the Teton’s still offered great conditions for steep skiing. Practicing alpine and ski mountaineering skills on the North West Coulior of the Middle Teton went smoothly, so skiing the Grand seemed very attainable. With the help of fellow guide Greg Collins, we left from the lower saddle at 4:20am 6/28 and reached the summit via the Owen/Spalding route around 9:15am. After some food and water, we skied corn in the Ford Coulior and exited to the Exum Ridge with a rappel onto Wall Street. Kevin, David and I will be heli-skiing in Haines, Alaska in 2009.