Last week Exum hosted a 5 day Ski Mountaineering Camp that started out with high angle ski mountaineering instruction and ended with a ski descent of the Grand Teton.
The Camp started in Garnet Canyon, where we built snow anchors, practiced belay systems and steep skiing technique. On day 2 the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram gave tired legs a break and we headed south to Cody Peak. Students practiced building their own anchors and took the rope into their own hands, belaying their partners on steep runs.
On day 3 we headed back into Grand Teton National Park and the group climbed and skied the Crooked Thumb Couloir on the east side of Teewinot. Since travelling in the mountains is ultimately more about exercising good judgment than tying the right knots or knowing the right tricks, students practiced assessing risk, and making their own (supervised) decisions about how and where to travel.
With the stars lining up for splitter weather we headed for the Grand Teton, via the Ford – Stettner route. The route has not been skiable for much of the winter, due to low snow and inadequate ice for the climb, but that had changed during the last week.
A descent of the Grand is never taken for granted, is always a challenge and offers a great reward. With a 4am start from high camp, we were on the summit by 9am.
The summit snowfields on the Grand are like a giant eggshell that roll away beneath you. With clear skies and no wind, the snow softened and we had great skiing into the Ford Couloir. A few rappels led back to Stettner and a brief climb to the Glencoe col, and down 5000’ to the car. A rewarding finish to a great week in the Tetons.