words, photos, and videos by Dorian Densmore
Typically, we wake up around 3 am or earlier, and drink matté for the hour and a half drive through Jackson and into the park. Up high in the mountains this spring has been rather cold, with frequent snowstorms, which has created deep stable pow for a good amount of days. On some days, it seemed almost everything was in perfect pow ski conditions.
Putting in the iPod, and clicking in the skis, we begin our approach in the dark, with the light of our headlamps illuminating the path through through the flats underneath the dark towering mountains.
Moving fast and feeling the glide under our skis, infrequently stopping for food and water, we begin to enter the mountains passing streams, lakes, and animal tracks of all types. This is usually when I begin to somewhat wake up, and start making ridiculus claims and statements and pretending to not have a clue about what’s going on. Silas throws snowballs at me and Brandon keeps saying that maybe we should just bivy right here. Our other buddy and big time mountain boss, Greg, seems stoked, but possibly concerned at how much joking is going on with us kids.
As we transition into the high mountain zone, the first sunlight starts to make the mountains glow in pink and orange and we put on our crampons while getting ready for an exciting climb on steep snow, rock, ice, or something like that. Cruising firm snow and ice, we head up steep, skinny couloirs, staying close together in formation like a Swiss rando team, each using one ice tool, and rapidly gaining massive elevation.
All types of conditions are encountered, from powder snow, to ice, to little rock and mixed climbing pitches. Once we’ve had enough, or have reached the top of the mountain, it is great because we are all super stoked to be on the way down. After scraping off mad snow that has frozen to my skis, and getting a major ice cream headache from spindrift hitting my forehead, we get to descend massive distances on steep terrain, often in pow. There are occasions of cautiously making jump turns and sidesteps on the edges of large cliffs, sometimes ice tool in hand.
Other times we are shredding all fast, and racing slough, and sometimes we are just cruisin. Every so often we will come upon a rappel, or several rappels, which is a bummer but after that we can ski all the way down into a canyon and have a beach party, by the side of a river if it’s sunny.
“Sure we are trying to ski all types, shapes and sizes of lines, but by sticking with big classic, obscure descents, we are able to break free of norms, coming true to real values with very tough alpine business feats.”
This year, more often than not, we are looking to ski strange new ski lines, most of them rediculious, but all very asthetic in some way. They all require almost perfect conditions, and are easiest to ride in the spring when they fill in with the most snow. Most of these ski lines have been skied before, but some of them have not, and all are creating a new level of skiing. It is a different kind of skiing, where u spend most of your time hiking or climbing, then if your lucky, get to make just one run that is often the most obscure and classic line of your life.
One thought on “Trip Report: Skiing Big Lines in Grand Teton National Park, WY”
nice dorian, b$!