I got a call from my friend Alex saying that he was heading to the Tetons and that conditions could be good for skiing something big. I took a look at the weather, chatted with a few people in Jackson, and decided that it sounded like a good plan to head north for the two-day weather window. I also called up my friend Justin, who I skied Mt. Superior with the season prior. About 24 hours later, we were falling asleep in our cars in Victor, Idaho.
The next day, while discussing our plans, Alex decided to opt out in order to spend his vacation time with his girlfriend. That left Justin and me packing up our backpacks and heading out across a frozen Jackson Lake.
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We crossed six miles of flat, easy walking in the sun while staring at the Skillet, a glacial route on 12,605-foot Mount Moran, in the heart of Wyoming s Teton range. We kept saying to each other, Look at that, we re planning on skiing that tomorrow. After we decided on a suitable campsite near the base of the mountain, we ate dinner and went to sleep.
The forecast for our summit bid was warm and sunny, so we woke up at 2:30 a.m. to try and avoid wet slides from the daytime heating. The sunrise that we witnessed from about halfway up Mount Moran was mind blowing. We both agreed that it was probably the best one we ve ever seen. The clouds were just right, we were high above the lake, facing directly east, and the sun lit things up far redder than I thought was possible.
A little while later, we switched from skinning to booting and finished out the couloir. After topping out, we saw that the summit was very close, so ditched our packs and took the five-minute walk to the top of Mount Moran. We descended back to the top of the couloir, clicked into our skis, and dropped in. It was one of the most fun ski descents I ve ever.
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The snow was a bit variable at the top, but the main couloir had sheltered, wind deposited goodness on the skier s right side. We played in this fantastic snow for about 5,500 feet, and then it got too exposed and too low. The rest of our descent to the lake was through trees and following other tracks. Once we skied out onto the snow-covered shore, we both collapsed in smiles.
We skinned our way back to our campsite, packed up, ate a big snack, and began the walk back across the lake. Looking over our shoulders constantly at what we had just skied proved to be far more fun than walking away.
After getting slightly lost while wandering through the trees, breaking trail for 5,800 vertical feet, skiing an incredible line, packing up camp reluctantly, and walking back across Jackson Lake, we arrived at our cars at 8:30 p.m. We spent over 17 hours in our ski boots, setting personal records for both of us, and ended the day with big smiles on our faces. Ben White
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