The first time I became aware of the European Alps I was 14 years old. I was backpacking through the North Cascades on a 3 week Outward Bound style course. My first mentor, Miles Becker, would often wax poetic about the range, comparing the Cascades to the Alps. He shared tales of alpine daring by the likes of Louis Lachenal, Lionel Terray and other famous climbers of the modern era. I was captivated by their antics in the mountains surrounding the world’s alpine climbing epicenter, Chamonix, France.
Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I favor light gear and little skis for most of my outings. This stuff works best for the long tours and vertical gain I prefer. I’ve pushed the use of thinner, shorter skis and light race bindings onto steep, technical terrain with generally satisfying outcomes. With like-minded partners encouraging this behavior, my ski quiver has stayed skinny…. until now.
Thought I'd give a shout out to my friend Michelle Smith, a film maker from Jackson Hole who has been steadily upping her game with these fun videos featuring my old stomping grounds. The Grand Teton is getting some love lately from TGR and will be featured on Jeremy Jones' next effort, Higher.
Michelle beats him to the punch here with this tasty nugget. She was preceeded by the Otter Body Experience, a film by David Gonzales but that awesome movie is MIA on the internet now.
So, sit back and check out the fun on one of the coolest lines on the biggest peak in the range along with some perspective from Teton skimo pioneer, Mark Newcomb.
I was an alpinist long before I was a ski mountaineer. And, although I love skinning uphill, booting up steep couloirs still has an honored place in my heart. In the right conditions, booting is more efficient. There’s nothing I hate more than zigzagging up a narrow chute on skis doing kick turn after kick turn. On the other hand, conditions can dictate a skis-only approach rather than sink crotch deep and “trench” upwards.
Uncharacteristically, it seems Alaska is not the first place in the States to see it's citizens celebrating the return of our favorite season. I've seen pictures of Jackson Hole recently blessed with plenty of powdered joy in the high country and at least some folks out sliding around on it on skis. Good for them. Last year saw first turns made up here at the end of September. We were close again this season.