Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:44 pm Posts: 700 Location: The Magic City
Usually just post these things on the Greater Yellowstone thread but figured I'd put this one out there as it may have a little more universal appeal...
We had a nice Memorial Day trip down to Jackson. Kate & I were mostly helping my folks move , but we squeezed in a descent of the southeast face of the South Teton, a line I've wanted to shred for years! Chatting with some local pals seemed to think the snowpack was withstanding the warm temps, so we decided to go for it despite being unsure of freezing up high.
Line from the road:
Kate and I left town @ 245, stashed a bike at the Bradley/Taggart TH, and continued on to Lupine Meadows. We hiked over intermittent snow until the junction w/ the Valley Trail, then were on consistent snow the rest of the way. Things actually had frozen quite well above 9k', but began warming up quickly as the sun came out.
Travel was easy all the way to the top of the South.
(Kate McDevitt photo)
On the summit, temperatures were so warm and calm that we opted to shred in our R1 Hoodies, a funny thing to do in May at 12,550'. The snow was great (if a little overripe) corn through the steepest & most consequently upper 2000'.
I knew we were nearing the end of our safety window for a descent like this, so unfortunately the camera stayed in its case until we were out of the steeps. I always regret things like that afterwards, but at the time we were pretty focused on keeping our edges on snow and watching each other carefully. I snapped a photo of the lower section of the main face after we were off it The foreshortened southeast couloir is also visible:
In the bowl beneath the main face and couloir, the angle eased a little and the snow turned to shit. Numerous moats and runnels kept us on our toes. Thankfully, good research had revealed a more appealing option, and a quick boot up to a col gave us access to another 1500' of much smoother snow.
We shredded nice summer snow all the way down to Lake Taminah and then through the Avalanche Canyon headwall. Where the canyon flattened, I transitioned to ski mode and stayed on the south side of the canyon on snow all the way back to Taggart Lake, a nice surprise which made the descent a whopping 5500', a hard thing to pull off this time of year. Unfortunately, the trail is on the north side of the canyon, and our desire to stay on snow meant a waist-deep creek crossing and about 45 minutes of the most heinous isothermic snow, willow, and deadfall-filled 'schwacking I've encountered in a while. That's certainly a memory to suppress, but we eventually got back to the trail and trailhead, where a 30 min bike ride back to the car @ Lupine Meadows while racing a thunderstorm kept the adventure quotient high til the end! With the biking it wound up being about a 20 mile day.