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Winter Ski Mountaineering Training in Garnet Canyon


After the failed attempt on Mount Moran a few weeks earlier, Aaron recommended that I “forget about the big peaks” for a time and focus on practicing on my uphill climbing technique. I took this advice seriously, and invested in better equipment. (My new Dynafit Manaslu skis and custom Dynafit Speed Skins are proving to be a fantastic). And more importantly, I went out and worked my butt off.

We decided that this trip was ONLY going to be a training exercise. Summiting a big peak, or skiing powder would take a back seat on this day. After discussing the options, we decided that Garnet Canyon would be the best choice for getting in some challenging uphill training with maximum time on skins.

We were on the trail by 5:30 AM, and the morning was perfect – until we started up through the South Fork of the canyon. At that point the winds picked up to gale force velocity and it felt more like we were in some frozen version of a Sahara sand storm. The wind blows so hard and so often in this upper canyon, that it literally blows most of the snow away in many sections.
We made great time, and I was feeling capable of going further so we decided that if the conditions were decent, we would attempt a summit of the Middle Teton via the Southwest Couloir. However, the wind took care of that decision – it blew all of the snow out of the couloir, making it too sketchy for a ski descent.

My theme for the video was inspired by the old Clint Eastwood western, “The Good the Bad and the Ugly”. We definitely experienced all three of those conditions on this trip. What I am beginning to learn is that is what skiing in big mountains, such as the Tetons is all about. It truly is possible to experience some of the best and worst ski conditions that you will ever see – all in one run.

What are my little life lessons from this trip?
Learn to enjoy life, love the journey. Whether you are negotiating through ugly boulder fields, fighting gnarly headwinds, or cruising in silky powder; you can still have a blast! Just dig in and live life to the fullest.
Training and practice DO matter. If you want to get better, then put in the hours and the sweat. You will be rewarded.
The right equipment never hurts. Sometimes in life, we need a little edge in order to succeed. Technology and equipment can help provide us with that little edge that may just be the kicker to getting us to the top.

GPS Data: (Forgot to start the GPS unit at the start of the climb, but the descent is full)

1 ping

  1. Middle Teton via Southwest Couloir Route » High Adventure

    […] the South Fork of Garnet and it is a lot easier to do this part of the route in the winter on skis, Ski mountaineering in Garnet Canyon. 2) There is a huge contrast in snow levels between this year and a couple of years ago when my son […]

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