Winter 2017--by Cody Finke
On of my skiing mentors (Patrick) and one of my old friends and partners (Giles) were living together this winter in the Tetons so I had been planning a trip back there for about 6 months. Every morning with breakfast I had been reading the avalanche report and just sitting on my thumbs waiting for the conditions to be right for the trip. Finally after a giant warm storm a week long break in the weather appeared. So I loaded my car and headed to the Tetons! On my way there were a few trials. Wet slides had closed every road into Jackson so I had to stay with my friend, Amy, in SLC. The next day I woke up early to get finish my drive, but I hit a deer on my way to Jackson so I had too get towed back to SLC and stay with my friend John. My car went to the body shop but I was able to catch a ride up to the Tetons the next day with a friend of a friend who is now just a friend and who I ended up skiing all week with, Kordell.
Finally in the Tetons, the weather was indeed good and the wind was indeed still. Patrick had made us dinner which was ready upon arrival. We knew it was going to get warm that week and soft snow up high would quickly turn into breakable crust so we decided to try to ski the Amora Vida first which was S/SE facing. This route is a steep, occasionally skied, very high quality line that can be skied from the summit of the South Teton. After I hurt my knee in 2016 I have been really into warming up my body, so I woke up around 1am to do 45 minutes of stretching with my host/mentor/ski partner Patrick and then eat breakfast, hydrate and head out the door. It was in the single digits at 2:30am at the trailhead but the rain crust combined with Patrick's invention of Skeats™ skin cleats made skinning up and out of the inversion layer and into the warmth of the high peaks fast and easy.
We skinned up into Garnet canyon and took the South fork to the col between the South and the Middle Teton. From there we booted the NW couloir and we were on the summit in just about 5 hrs summit of the South and contemplated out descent. The recent storm had come with a lot of rime ice so we were a little worried about skiing conditions in the couloir. The snow was generally stable, but a fall in the over 50 degree couloir could be deadly*, so if conditions were not in, neither were we.