22″+12″=34″ on Teton Pass

After a successful day yesterday, we put our noses to the ground and began to sniff out our next move.  Mt. Baker had received 30″ so far out of this storm, and Mt. Bachelor had gotten 16″ in the last 12 hours.  Grand Targhee had gotten nothing, and was currently receiving a rain/snow mix, and it was raining in Driggs.  So the question was, drive over 14 hours to find more powder, or trust the “all-knowing’ (insert sarcasm) NOAA about the impending storm scheduled to hit this afternoon?  We began the day believing we would pack up and head to Mt. Baker.  As we ate breakfast though, a long time friend of Jon’s, Eric Panebaker, called and told us to meet him and his girlfriend Martha, up on Teton Pass to do some backcountry laps.  We were easily talked out of another long drive in exchange for hanging out with friends, so we changed into snow clothes and headed up to the pass.  It was crowded and snowing lightly, but we were skiing, so we were happy.  Moiwa got to come with this time, which made her very happy.  We followed our tour guides around, and they did not disappoint.  Our first shot was a short one, but after we had each taken a turn skiing it, everyone’s consensus was, “well, that was a lot better than we expected”.  As we took a moment to put our skins back on, we all started to notice how hard it had just started snowing.  The storm was arriving.  We climbed uphill again to ski a different aspect, this time a little slower as our legs started to tire.  As we rose out of the gully the wind picked up and howled across the ridge.  We ducked into a small group of trees to de-skin and prepare to ski, all the while catching up for lost time, sharing memories and stories.  When everyone was ready, and after lots of anxious barks from Moiwa, we braved back into the wind to drop in.  Panebaker went first, and ever the gentleman, Jon let Martha and I go second and third.  I dropped in cautiously, testing the snow.  Would there be an icy layer beneath (one we often call chunder) or a breakable wind crust on top?  Luck was with us again, and it was bottomless, with a little bit of blower powder on top that swirled up into the air on each turn.  Every single one of us wanted to do it again, and so we began to put our skins back on and head uphill, even just a little bit slower.  When we hit the ridge, the wind was picking up even more, hustling us into the trees and making us move a little bit quicker this time.  On the second lap, Panebaker was the gentlemen, letting me drop first.  I moved a little to the right this time, hoping not to cross another track and I picked my line well.  It was the deepest turns of the season so far, turning as hard on each turn to spray up as much snow as possible.  Jon came in behind me, hooting and hollering the whole way down, followed by a very snowy Moiwa.  Next came Martha, and then Panebaker, each with big smiles on their faces.  It was time to head out, so we followed a gully back to a skin track that would take us back uphill to the trucks.  By the time we got to the parking lot, the storm was in full force with up to 40mph winds.  State Patrol was chaining up and snow plows were working hard to keep the pass open.  We quickly changed and said our good-byes as they were heading back into Jackson, and we were returning to Driggs, in hopes of skiing deep, endless powder at Grand Targhee tomorrow.    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


3 thoughts on “22″+12″=34″ on Teton Pass

  1. Sharon Cordes says:

    This is super writing Melanie.
    I am so thankful you are doing this. I am sharing it with some of the family. My “send” doesn’t work all the time so this is my chance to respond and to share so they will know where to find your updates. You guys sound like you are embracing the moment. Love you both…….
    Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2012 23:43:25 +0000
    To: jjscordes@hotmail.com

  2. Patrick Cain says:

    Mel you make me very jealous as i am spending my time in phoenix and the mostly inside hospitals. ski the shit out of this winter for me!

  3. Brian Hessling says:

    WOOWHOO! Well, we’re at work you two dodgey whippersnappers. I keep shoutin down to ‘Chelle as I read this post from the crows nest. Her response was a rather deadpan “sweet”…

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