Garnet Canyon Ski Tour

Returning to the Tetons

The Tetons are amongst America’s most iconic mountains. I have visited them a few different times – for spring skiing, rock climbing, and trail running. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City to visit my friends Brigette and Kelsey, we decided to drive up to the Tetons for the weekend. I was excited to see the range in winter!

We caught a beautiful sunrise at the Taggart Lake Trailhead, although the -11F air temperature was chilling!

Alpenglow on the Grand.
Chilly morning!
Nice light in the morning.

We skinned past Taggart Lake, across Bradley Lake, and up into Garnet Canyon. The rock walls got larger and larger around us before we finally got the classic view of Middle Teton.

Beautiful pillows on our way up the canyon.
Middle Teton!

During my 2018 summer trip, I skied Middle Teton and South Teton. It was one of my first real backcountry ski trips, and the first one where I truly realized the power of skis and pleasure of corn skiing.

We followed a skin track up towards South Teton, before deciding to take a quick lap on “Cave Couloir”, a nice east facing gully beneath Middle Teton. We figured that this east aspect would get fried shortly in the sun, so we wanted to get it while it was still good.

Looking down Garnet Canyon.
Kelsey with South Teton looming above!

It was an absolutely stunning day, with deep blue skies, fresh snow, and towering pinnacles. I think the Tetons are even more marvelous in winter with a fresh dusting of snow.

Looking up towards the Grand.

On our first run, the snow was delightful boot-top powder. I zoomed down the thousand foot run in less than a minute. There is nothing better than skiing boot-top powder on open slopes in the sun!

Brigette’s photo of me getting my first powder turns in the Tetons.

Back down in the canyon, we decided to head up the north fork towards the Middle Teton Glacier. The slopes up high ended up being pretty wind affected, so we turned around before reaching the Lower Saddle. I had been here once before, when Kylie and I climbed the Grand later in the summer of 2018, and she broke her foot in a fall. Not all memories in this range are good!

Skiing beneath the giant shadow of Middle Teton.

Instead of just descending Garnet Canyon, our plan was to ski a line into the Delta Lake drainage. So we booted up the rocky moraine beneath the Teepee Glacier and ascended to a notch. This led us to the top of the “Dike Snowfield”, an east facing line nestled beneath towering pillars and cliffs.

Nez Perce Peak and the Hourglass Couloirs.
Looking back on the upper slopes of Middle Teton.

Although it was early afternoon on a busy day, we were about to get first tracks down the Dike! Dozens of people had skied the Red Sentinel Couloir, the line next door. But I guess today was our lucky day! The snow was soft and wonderfully fast. Cliffs and pillars seemed to rise at all angles around me. It certainly felt like a quintessential Teton ski descent!

Brigette’s picture of me dropping in.
Looking back as Kelsey and Brigette ski the line!

We enjoyed good snow all the way down to Delta Lake. This was a new view of the Grand for me.

Looking back on the Grand!

From Delta Lake, we had to do a fair amount of traversing and side stepping to get back to Bradley Lake. But it was all worth it for the incredible descent down to Delta Lake.

Our ski trip was off to an excellent start! The Tetons are such a steep, awe-inspiring place that I have enjoyed visiting over the years. Of all my days in this range, this may have been the best!

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