To ski the Grand Teton has always been a goal of mine. It felt like a right of passage growing up in Jackson Hole. I have climbed it numerous times in the summer, but to climb and ski it in the winter is no small feat. I left the parking lot at 1am with Tanner Flanagan and Fredrik Marmsater. The snow was bullet proof as we skinned to the meadows. We had hoped to skin to the top of the Teepee Glacier, but as we started slipping and sliding at the base of the meadows we soon realized we would be boot packing. We reached the top of the Teepee Glacier just in time to watch the sunrise. It was absolutely breath-taking.
After 7 hours of skinning and boot packing, it was time to have some fun. We were lucky that we started early. We were not the only ones who had the Grand on our minds that day. There was a group of three climbers ahead of us going up the Ford Stettner route and two climbers planning on climbing the Stettner Couloir to the top. Behind us were three other groups of climbers. We watched their head lamps get closer and closer. Luckily, the other climbers chose to ski something else that day seeing that there were already 8 climbers heading up the Grand Teton.
The Stettner Couloir was great boot packing. We weren’t sure what to expect in the Stettner because no one in our group had climbed or skied the Ford Stettner route. We roped up at the base of the Stettner. We probably didn’t need to rope up for the first pitch, but why take the chance. After three pitches, we were at the base of the Chevy Couloir.
I was most concerned about the Chevy Couloir because it has the most ice and I knew there was an ice bulge that we would have to climb up and over. In hind site the ice climbing was really fun, but I had never ice climbed before. Why not have my first ice climb be the Grand Teton? Fredrik Marmsater led the climb. It was impressive to watch him dance his way up and over the ice bulge. Not only is he an amazing photographer, but he’s a bad ass in the mountains.
I was relieved that the other parties chose to turn around because with 6 of us in the Chevy Couloir it was slow going. I can’t imagine having more people people in there. The other group of climbers ahead of us were three guys from Salt Lake City. It was their second attempt up the Grand after turning around due to warming last year. They were a great group of guys and we all worked well together to ensure that everyone was safe.
The Chevy is a big couloir. You think you should be to the top, but once you climb out of the Chevy, you still have the Ford to climb. We reached the summit at 12:30pm.
It is hard to describe how you feel when reach the summit after 11.5 hours of climbing. All I can say is that it feels awesome! You give yourself a little time enjoy it before you shift into ski mode and ensure that you get yourself back to the parking lot safely. The summit is only half way.
The skiing was great! I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were too busy enjoying the perfect corn snow.
There is a sense of awe and accomplishment as you take one last look back at where you were just hours ago. Huge thanks to my partners Tanner Flanagan and Fredrick Marmsater. Skiing the Grand was an epic adventure! Cheers Boys!