Friday, January 13, 2006

A few nice little tours in the Tetons

The AMGA guiding course has been a great learning experience for me. During the course we discuss techniques and then usually go into the field and practice… and this means we get to ski the Teton backcountry. Thursday the 12th we traveled into Grand Teton National Park and skinned up “25 Short”, which is named for being 25 feet short of 10,000 feet. The skin was about 3,300 feet to the top. We dug pits to analyze the snow pack, did some compression tests, then got to ski down taking turns guiding our groups. The snow was amazing, knee deep powder. This tour is perfectly safe for me to do alone as there is a well treed option with no avalanche danger. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time training here in the next few weeks.

Friday the 13th we skinned up to ski "Wimpies". This meant climbing and skiing Albright Mountain, which is south of 25 Short in the Grand Teton National Park. Almost at the top of Albright however the objective danger became too much for almost everyone in the class. There is a clear avy path from the peak of Albright. When we arrived there were three skiers clearly struggling to skin up this section. Since they were above us, and would be until they summited, then skied down, it was not a good idea to be below them. We crossed below one at a time and skied the ridge and glades all the way down. Amazing turns and incredible snow once again.

Saturday Dec 14th the day before our big “Trans Teton” two day tour our group did a 2,200 foot boot pack up Glory Bowl. Since it’s a boot pack, right off the Teton Pass road and close to Teton Village it’s a heavily traveled ski route for both snowboarders and skiers alike. With that said there a good number of skiing options from the top, so we were all pleasantly surprised to find we could ski untracked shin deep powder the entire way down. Did I mention that Jackson Hole has the best backcountry skiing known to man? On the top we discussed our options belaying clients in sketchy situations, then focused on rescue sleds and practiced lowering and dragging them uphill. These are skills I have never worked on so I learned a good deal.

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