Location: GTNP, 25 Short
Elevation, Gain/Loss: 9975’, 3,573’ gain/loss
Distance: 6 miles RT
Difficulty: 3 stars
Time: 4-5 hours
Snow Condition: Chalky, Powder, “Bouncy Snow”
Skiing at JHMR can be a blast, with lift accessed powder fields in every direction, but after a week of high pressure and 6 inches of light snow on a crusty layer, I was yearning to get back into the park. We were not sure what the conditions would be like, but after a few runs in Granite during the past couple of days, we decided on something north facing. Dane, Trist, Casper and I chatted over coffee on the ride up to GTNP and settled on Turkey Chute off 25 Short. It has a relatively easy approach, with a fun 2200′ shot down to the canyon floor. I was also excited to get into Avalanche Canyon to see what the out was like and how the snow was holding up in the canyon.
The skin up 25 Short is still a little jumbled, with ski tracks crossing the skin track and numerous options up the mellow face. We made it onto the skin track (lookers right ridge of the main gully) we were attempting to find after a few moments of uncertainty due to all the options, but once on the track, we made great time. At times, the skin track was a little slick, but most of the time the new dusting gave us great grip and we were on the summit in just over 2 hours.
Once there, we skinned south along the ridge towards 10,696, under an outcropping of rock to our right (Casper’s Cliff?). Turkey Chute is just south of this on the right, detectable by a large boulder at the entrance of the couloir. We passed the large boulder at first, because the thin coverage caused us to cross the ridge much lower than usual. We quickly realized this and made our way back to the rock outcropping and Turkey Chute.
Once at the entrance, we got into ski mode and began the downclimb into the couloir. Looking down into the run, we noticed it was a little wind effected, but were confidant that the lower half was holding some fluffy snow. We progressed down to a snowy area where we could put on our skis and got ready to rip the chute.
We skied down the steeper (35+ degree) section in groups of two. Once down to the mellower apron, we gave each other some room and enjoyed some great “hippie” turns. We were impressed with the snow, all wishing for deep turns the whole way down, but satisfied with chalky powder up top and deeper snow down low.
At the bottom of the apron, we worked our way right to a small, fun shot down to the traverse out to Taggart Lake. The snow was a little thin in here, but we made the most of it and had our share of powder turns in this north facing, protected pocket of Avalanche Canyon.
The traverse was not as bad as we expected. It defiantly had some blind corners, small drops and fast sections, but there was good coverage all the way to the lake. Once at the lake, we delayered and made quick work of the push across Taggart and to the trailhead.
The total trip took us just under 4 hours, which was much faster than other trips to Turkey Chute. It was a fun day in the park and got us all thinking about another line we want to attempt in the coming weeks, the Nugget Line.