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JH Gathering - Backcountry Skiing?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
A couple of you have pm'd me about bc skiing during the Gathering.

As most of you know, I was once an alpine guide at JHMR (from 1979 to 1986) but no longer do that. Because of that background, however, I've got a pretty good knowledge of the out-of-bounds terrain that's accessible from the ski resort and from Teton Pass.

Right now, the backcountry skiing here is fairly low quality, as we haven't had snow for nearly two weeks. There is some fun stuff to be had, but it's requiring some pretty involved hikes to get there and back. I'm always up for trips like that and don't particularly care about the conditions (I'm weird that way), but people who have a limited time here might not want to burn precious skiing hours hiking out to and back from somewhat marginal skiing.

As I look at the weather photos, it's kind of hard to see anything really major building up to sock us with serious weather by the time you all arrive. Of course, I've been proven wrong on that countless times, so let's hope I'm wrong again.

This is a long-winded way of asking how many of you have the gear (beacon, shovel, probe) and the inclination to try to go out of bounds either Saturday or Sunday? Please reply if you'd be up for it. That would give me an idea how many of you there might be.

I don't really want to get into a position of trying to provide backcountry gear or training for anyone who doesn't currently have it. If you fall in that category and want to go OB, you can consider hiring one of the guides.

I hiked to the top of Glory Peak from Teton Pass today and skied down one of the main ridges west from the summit. To be brutally honest, the skiing sucked. Sun crusts, frozen chicken heads, and breakable slabs. I'm probably going up there again tomorrow just to see if some of the north-facing stuff might be any better.

Anyway, if you want to consider a bc tour while you're here, please chime in.

post #2 of 11
I'm highly interested and I've got an extra analog beacon that I can loan to a fellow Bear.

Bob, do the excursions your thinking of require lift access or can we shuttle with cars to the entry and exit points?
post #3 of 11
Hey Bob!

"We should try over there, the snow could be really good! Or it could totally suck." [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

I'm indifferent. I'll bring the gear up, will go out if people are going, but if I don't, no big deal. I'll head up to make some BC turns with you another time.

Our snowpack is pretty stable here right now, but the turns are not perfect. Fredo and I skied Zoot Chute in Wolverine Cirque yesterday and the sluffs were running fairly big. Enough to take you for a ride if you were not paying attention. Fred strained his knee pretty bad had to soak it in beer at the Rustler afterwards. I wished hat had SL skis for the tour instead of my Explosives.

The turns on northern aspects with recient wind deposits were pretty good and stable. Took a few shots on the way back in to Grizzly Gultch.

Anyway, I'll plan on being flexable and bring the gear up. Let's hop it snows!
post #4 of 11
I am interested, if conditions then look good. Will have equipment.
Sunday will be better than Saturday for me; want to reserve Sat to ski at Teton village with my son
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by PinHed:
I'm highly interested and I've got an extra analog beacon that I can loan to a fellow Bear.

Bob, do the excursions your thinking of require lift access or can we shuttle with cars to the entry and exit points?
Yes and yes.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

There are two general areas where we typically do backcountry skiing; one is out of bounds at the ski area, the other is hiking at Teton Pass.

The Pass requires you to drive to the top of Teton Pass and then skin or boot-climb from there. Skinning takes about an hour to get to some of the better stuff, longer than that to get to things that haven't been skied out right now. Booting means you carry your skis up a boot-packed track that ascends Glory Peak to the north of Teton Pass. Getting to the summit involves about an hour (35 minutes for some of the superhumans around here) of pretty steep hiking with your skis either on a pack or over your shoulder. From the top of Glory, there are a great many choices depending on sun, wind, snow, and avy danger. Most choices wind up somewhere back at the highway. You can either leave another car wherever you plan to come out, or one person in the group can hitch hike back to the vehicle. This is *very* common out here.

Skiing OB from the ski area usually means traversing or booting, not skinning (although skinning is a option in a couple of places). A great deal of extremely varied terrain is accessible from the various backcountry gates on the boundaries of the ski area. We can reach open bowls, glades, very steep chutes, or all of the above. Outings range from as little as skiing out the boundary gate, down a bowl, and then back into the ski area, to as much as two-hour hiking grunts to get to some of the more remote spots.

There is one tour at the area that I like a great deal - it's called Endless Couloir and it's visually spectacular. It's wide, pretty steep (40-plus degrees for the upper third) and long (pushing 2,500 vertical feet). It drops into Grand Teton National Park and is simply a gorgeous tour. Getting to it requires a boot hike of about 20 minutes (maybe 400 vertical feet) and a skating/poling traverse for about ten minutes. Once you've skied it, you have nearly an hour of traversing/poling/shuffle-climbing to get back to the ski area base. AltaSkier joined me on it last year and even though I picked the worst possible conditions (it was very warm, which made the traverse back interminable), I think he would agree that it's a great tour.

Here are three photos of an Endless trip we took last week:

This is the top of the boot-hike part. That's the summit of the JH Ski Area in the background:

This next one is a friend dropping into the upper part of Endless. You might have to look close - she's in there somewhere:

And the last one is looking down the gut from up above. You'll note the two onlookers near left and the lone skier way down in the center:

This tour is a round trip of about 2-2.5 hours, and could be started as late as 1:00pm. I'm kind of thinking we could go on this tour after a group lunch on either Sat or Sun, which would allow most of us to ski together in the morning.

All this is highly dependent on the weather, of course. Endless is *most* definitely not a place I would go if there's any avalanche danger to speak of.

I think we'll just have to see what the weather looks like as you all get here and then go from there.


[ January 19, 2004, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: Bob.Peters ]
post #6 of 11
I'd be interested in coming along, Bob. And Mike, I'd be happy to borrow your other beacon!!
post #7 of 11
Endless is a great shot Bob! I'd ski it again in a hearbeat. Thanks for sharing it with me. An hour to get out? There must have been snow on the traverse out!

So when can Russ and I head up to ski that chute right down the middle of Cody? (would like a soft landing on that exit though)

Also, if we spend a day in the BC in Jackson, I'm voting for Teton Pass. Only because I'm going to be cheap and would like to save $60 or so on that day's lift ticket.
post #8 of 11
If I make it out to the Gathering, I'm VERY interested in backcountry hiking. But I have some work and family things brewing so my making it to the gathering is a question mark at the moment.
post #9 of 11
No Back Country for me until later in my stay (maybe mid-march). I need to get a few more ski days on my legs first. I also need to take a class and pick up a beacon (I have shovel/probe). I'm just looking forward to exploring the ski area proper for the gathering.

I hope to do some more exploring in March.

post #10 of 11
I'd like to do both, actually. Maybe Saturday at JHMR, with a trip down Endless; and Sunday at the Pass.

Bob, Endless is accessed by hiking the headwall from the top of the Gondola, no?
post #11 of 11
I'd be interested in doing Endless some time while I am in JH, looks beautiful. Cause I am staying till Friday, I could do it after the Gathering if conditions are not right. Have a beacon but no shovel or probe.
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