Friday, May 4, 2012

Teewinot, East Face - Staying conservative

Last Saturday Andy, Fabrikant, and I went back to the Tetons for the second time in five days.  The previous trip was shut down by blazing temps which turned the snow pack into dangerous slush. This time the weather had cooled off considerably so we figured wet slides won't be an issue.  Only problem was the foot of new snow the higher peaks got on Saturday...

We pulled into the Jackson Motel 6 at 5PM Saturday evening with our bags packed and ready to go.  Amazingly we were all asleep by 7 and didn't wake up until our alarm went off at midnight.  The plan was to summit Teewinot at sun up and keep going. 

Someone was kind enough to put a booter in all the way up the east face.  Unfortunately for us they took a wrong turn up a chute that dead ended on a rock band.  It was still dark and we didn't really want to pull ropes out to climb into unknown territory so we down climbed the booter for 500-1000 feet before we could head back up the correct way.  While traipsing around the east face we ran into isolated areas of wind/sluff affected snow with minimal slab on top (1-3 inches).   Normally I don't think I would have been overly concerned but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about the worst case senario.  Maybe it was seeing Jared getting flushed on Superior the other week.  Maybe it's the lack of steep skiing this year.  Maybe it was actually dangerous.  Whatever it was, I felt scared.  

Andy and Adam down climbing
Fabrikant getting a better look at the Hossack-McGowan from the summit of Teewinot
Still feeling safe booting, we headed to the summit and reevaluated. Our discussion had us tucking tail and headed back down.  Andy and Adam agreed that if everyone didn't feel good about it then we back off.  We ended up skiing shallow variable snow on top of runneled, wet debris.  Not the best.   That doesn't matter too much though, it was still a new descent for us and even with the bike out it was a lot better than the alternative - watching TV, reading, playing Halo, even sleep.
Fabrikant leading the way
A few thousand feet to go, photo by Andy
Best snow of the day, photo by Adam
The idea was to go back this weekend for another go.  Looks like the unsettled weather in the Tetons continues, I guess we'll have to wait and see.  

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