BD athlete Steve Romeo reports on a ski mountaineering day in the Teton backcountry
Black Diamond athlete Steve Romeo lives in the Tetons—literally. He has a house in Jackson, Wyoming and spends pretty much every day he's at home exploring the backcountry for hidden stashes and forgotten goods. Recently he ventured into the northern part of the range and came back with a great story and photos of a big day of ski mountaineering.
I’ve skied plenty of the classic descents in the high peaks of Grand Teton National Park, so it’s always exciting to explore new terrain outside of the more popular areas. Luckily, the northern section of the Teton Range holds a plethora of unnamed peaks that have an infinite number of couloirs, bowls and faces to keep one occupied for a lifetime.
On this day, the mission was to head into Colter Canyon (one of the park’s northern most canyons) and explore an area I had once visited over 10 years ago. The ski across Jackson Lake in the early morning hours was a cold one, but soon we were gaining elevation, which added to the sun as it warmed our bodies.
When my partners and I gained a side canyon after about 2000 feet of skinning, we spotted a couple of nice north-facing couloirs tucked in between some rocky buttresses. One looked questionable for a clean descent, since it doglegged and we really couldn’t see the whole line, while the other was a nice, straight shot. The snow was deep and soft, so we decided to climb the clean line and with hopes of getting better eyes on the dogleg couloir from above.
At the top, we soon found the entrance to the dogleg line, which started out as a funnel, before pinching down and then heading to the skier’s left… where it then got steeper and narrower still. From below, it looked a wee bit cruxy, but that is the kind of stuff we like, so we went for it.
Dropping in, we tested the snow stability and stayed a bit to the skier’s left side of the funnel, before we felt more confident and moved into the gut. After a couple leapfrogs, we positioned ourselves above the crux, where a ski cut did nothing to move a slabby section, adding more to our confidence level. Some tight jump turns, a little side-steeping, and a deek around an icy rock brought us into wider terrain, relaxing our spirits as well. It felt good to open things up on the apron below, but a little wind-skin kept us on our toes just the same.
With more daylight left and the snow holding up well to the sun, we pushed the tour further and pounded out a skin track up to a high ridge and it was cool to check out or tracks and line from a distance. The descent from the ridge gave us over three miles of skiing in the high country…before dropping back down to the shore of Jackson Lake. Skiing high above the lake with 360-degree views in the bright sun was awesome and a great way to end the day—never mind the velvety, bouncy and perfect powder we skied on the way. Of course there was still the four-mile ski across the lake to go before we reached the car, but with memories of the day, we were there before we knew it.
[For more photos from this trip, visit: