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Skiing Mount Saint John in the Tetons

post #1 of 3
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I have been accused many times of being "sick" when I'm clicked into a pair of skis.  Sometimes I almost think it may be true.  This TR is focused on Day 2 of a 2-day trip into Grand Teton National Park.  My partner for this trip, Brady Adams of Boise, Idaho and I would really like to pretend that Day 1 never happened.  At the risk of suffering eternal internet condemnation, lets just say that we got slightly off track at around 1:30 AM as we headed for what we thought was the skin track to the Skillet (Mount Moran), and ended up at the foot of the Falling Ice Glacier a couple of hours later.  We bushwhacked, post-holed, floundered and skinned our way around to the Skillet skin track around the NW side of Leigh Lake, but this took too much time and energy.  We wisely cut our losses, headed back and got ready for day 2.  (The Falling Ice would have been a good climb/ski, but neither of us had been on that route, and I'd been in the Skillet twice.  That is why we didn't venture up it in the dark).


Our second day objective was Mount Saint John.  This is a multi-summit peak that is somewhat serrated, but we were shooting for the most obvious route right up the east face that ends on the eastern "summit" at 11,000 feet.  The big storm a week earlier had left some huge, impressive avalanche debris on both Mount Saint John and Rockchuck, which is right next door.  However, the base was consolidated and what hadn't slid was freezing/bonding with the older base, so we assessed the risk and decided that we were good to go.

The biggest problem was that it didn't freeze up hard enough that night, and so we either had mashed potatoes or frozen crust on top of mashed potatoes.  The frozen crust wouldn't support boots, and it was too steep to skin for most of the way, so lets just say it was a tough slog up the mountain.  We wore ourselves out about 700 feet from the summit and we knew we still had a tough ski of over 3000 vertical to get back to the trailhead.  So we turned around at 10,300.  The video documents the different ski conditions and gives a decent feel for the terrain.  As is often the case, a POV camera doesn't quite do justice to the steepness, but it came thru with some of the "flavor" of what we were up against.  (Mount Saint John is steep, but our route was not as steep or complex as many of the more popular routes in the Tetons).

At the outset, I stated that many think I'm sick, and it may well apply in this situation.  We truly had a great time, in spite of the adverse conditions.  Too many times when we see the films of skiing in the backcountry it is bottomless powder and letting it rip.  In reality, these conditions may be far more representative of ski mountaineering that endless face shots.  The point is, that I love to ski and I'll take the good with the bad.  That is what makes it all fun!

Link to the Hi-adventure TR with GPS map/data of our adventure.

Mount Saint John video.


post #2 of 3
Wow, that looks really tough. In the realm of "good or good for ya" that must fit on the good for ya end of the spectrum. Thanks for sharing!
post #3 of 3
I haven't skied St. John, but I have to say that the bushwhacking to the Skillet can be a real bitch.

Nice TR.
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