Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Grand Teton - Ford/Stettner Couloir

Lars Kjerengtroen (share-ing-tro-en) first introduced me to skiing back when were we track training partners.  Ever since, we've  talked about skiing the Grand together.  On prior outings to the Tetons, for one reason or another, Lars wasn't able to make it but this weekend he turned 34 and he could. We headed up Friday evening, got a few hours of sleep and were hiking by 3 AM.  We were on dirt until the boulders where we found firm snow.  This led to pretty quick travel consisting of mostly ski cramponing and a little booting all the way up Tepee Glacier and over to Glencoe Col.
Approaching Tepee Glacier, Nez Perce in the background 
Crossing from Tepee Col To Glencoe Col
The Stettner and Chevy where in prefect condition.  Both were full of ice glazed snow with mini ice bulges of plastic ice.  The Chevy ice bulges were no bigger than 3-4 feet and with the warm ice felt very secure.  Although the climbing conditions were perfect, water had already started to trickle and the sun was out in full force.  We figured we didn't have much time before the threat of wet slides would be more than we're comfortable with so we climbed fast with hopes of summiting in the next hour and getting back off as quick as possible.  

When we turned the corner again and entered the Ford we were happy to find a shallow, icy runnel which made for fast booting.  Now my fear of moving slowly and getting wet slid (we just would have bailed if it was taking too long) was replaced with the fear of skidding out and graphically rocketing out of the bottom of the Ford.
The start of the Chevy Couloir
Lars mid Chevy
Mid Ford
Topping out the Ford
We topped out around 9AM, sat around for a few minutes enjoying the view and then made a few ugly turns in refrozen wet debris on the East Face.  I just got a GoPro (kind of bro brah I know) and was excited to see what the footage would look like skiing from the summit but after recording 20 mins earlier in the day the battery had already died. 20 min battery life? And half the footage from earlier in the day did work?  I hate that thing.  
The Grinch and I on the summit
Lars skiing off the summit
Turns off the summit, photo by Lars
The upper Ford was perfect.  It was nice and smooth and soft enough to make the turns a little more casual.  The lower portion was still in the shade and we had felt how icy the runnel was just a bit before.  Not wanting to die, we took our skis off and shamelessly down booted (down booting seems to be a theme for me lately).  Not the best style but what can you do?  We were already planning on making four double rope raps so we figured our "style" didn't really matter.
Lars in the upper Ford
Shameless down-climbing over an icy runnel
We made the raps through the Chevy and Stettner around 10AM and by that time the the ice bulges were covered in full-on running water.   The high in Jackson on Saturday (when we climbed) was in the low 70's and today is in the 80's.  Even though we had perfect climbing conditions I, unfortunately,  don't think they'll last too long.
Lars rapping over the waterfalls/ice bulges
Rapping mid Chevy, photo by Lars
On Thursday Kit Deslauriers became the first woman to ski the Grand solo.  She spoke about dodging wet slides on her way down the Tepee.  Roughly 70% had of the Glacier had slid and massive piles of wet debris were covering the lower portions.  Since it was now 11 and the sun was blazing we were leery of the remaining 30%.  After a few aggressive ski cuts our slushy slough entrained the remaining heavy snow and rivers of wet debris ran the length of the Tepee.  It was beautiful!
Heading towards the Meadows
The rest of the way to the meadows was fun slush and before we knew it we were at the end of the snow.  My shoes were right where I left them but Lars' were gone.  There were a pair of ski tracks to the rock where we left them so I figured some idiot stole them.  I was about to have Lars put mine on and try and chase the skiers down (who I thought stole his) and grapple them to death.  But then we looked around and found a couple of chewed up Hokas.  Damn marmots. The tongues were gone but nothing too bad.  At least Lars wasn't going to have to fight, or walk in ski boots.  
Nearing the end of the snow
The marmots think Hokas are ugly too and decided to eat Lars'
Besides the bear we walked by, the way out was leisurely and enjoyable.  Andy jokes that we should eradicate all bears.  I wouldn't go that far but we sure did feel helpless thinking about being mauled by this little guy.  

If this weekend's heat doesn't ruin it, the climbing's in and it's fantastic.  Get it before it's too late!


  1. You guys amaze me. Glad you dragged Lars along!! I have always wanted to hike the Grand, so maybe one day I'll make it. Take care. Greg Flint

  2. Looks amazing! That sucks about your GoPro, though. I have had similar issues with mine. You should check out the Switch 8 Solar Recharging Kit. I keep that thing strapped to my pack and my GoPro never dies!
    keep posting awesome stuff!

  3. What does it say about Lars that marmots selected his shoes instead of yours? Stinky feet?

  4. Funny about the shoes...sort of. That happened to Z's shoes a couple of years ago when he did the Trifecta. Damn fat rats!

    Eradicate all bears? That little blackie minding his own business? You boys need to come up here and I'll introduce you to some bad dudes (brown ones) you really should be scared of.

    Nice to see Lars getting some more Teton love. Way to go!

    1. I can only imagine the how terrifying your run ins with the big boys up in AK are. Maybe you should move to SLC...

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