Dike Couloir

Location: GTNP, Garnet Canyon, Teepee Glacier, Glacier Gulch
Elevation, Gain/Loss: 11,165’, 5,545’ gain/loss
Distance: 8 miles RT
Difficulty: 3 stars
Time:  5-6 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 1/31/2015 Snow Condition: Powder, Packed Powder, some sun crust on the way up Garnet Canyon.  Soft dense snow on the lower east face of Disappointment Peak.

After a few small storms brought a 6″ inches of snow to the mountains and a couple awful days skiing around the resort, I decided it was time to get into the park.  North facing aspects seemed to be skiing the best over the past couple days, so I mulled over a few options and decided on the Dike Couloir near Teepee Glacier.

Zelie and I were a little late to start, leaving the truck right at 10am, but it was supposed to be cool and sunny through the day and felt fine about the departure time.  We left Bradley/Taggart trailhead and proceeded towards Bradley Lake, out to the right along the normal track to Garnet Canyon. At the point along the moraine between the two lakes that the track either goes straight (to Shadow) or down to the right, we dropped right and made our way to Bradley Lake.

Beautiful view of the Grand from Bradley Lake.
Beautiful view of the Grand from Bradley Lake.

We made quick work of the up into Garnet Canyon and were in the Meadows enjoying the beauty of the canyon in 2hrs.  We saw a few guys booting up the “summer trail” to our right on their way to the Red Sentinel, a couple people going for the West Hourglass and later two guys on top of the col between the Ellingwood Couloir and Middle Teton Glacier.  People were teeing off in Garnet and we were hoping not to run into to many tracks on our run.  We decided the easiest way up was the skin track to the left of Spaulding Falls.  At this point, the canyon was alive with spindrift flying off the mountain summits, as the sun crept above Nez Perce.

Zelie working her way up Garnet Canyon.
Zelie working her way up Garnet Canyon with the Middle Teton looming.
The South Fork of Garnet Canyon with Cloudveil Dome and Nez Perce in the background.
The South Fork of Garnet Canyon with Cloudveil Dome and Nez Perce in the background.

We worked our way up the steep skin track, eventually switching over to bootpack mode just above the falls.  We continued up and to the right, eventually coming to boulder field, exposed by the constant wind that comes through the canyon.  We saw the two guys from earlier, struggling into the South Sentinel, on their way to the Red Sentinel to our right, and continued to work our way up to our objective.  We eventually came out into Teepee Glacier at around 4hrs and were pretty excited that the majority of the work was done.  We switched over to skin mode for one last minor push, but paused to take a look around the seldom viewed corner of the canyon.

Teepee Glacier.
Teepee Glacier.
Middle Teton Glacier and the East Face of the Middle.
Middle Teton Glacier and the East Face of the Middle.

We worked our way up and to the right, eventually finding the entry into the Dike Couloir.  It looked a little thin up top, but we imagined it was all filled in down low.

Top of the Black Dike Couloir.
Top of the Dike Couloir.

We hung out in the sun for a bit, until the newly developed northerly wind began to be too much.  We geared up and started to make our way down.  After a couple side slips, we worked our way through the upper section and had some fun turns down to the rollover.  Here we could see that the couloir had been HACKED.  I couldn’t believe how many tracks were in the run…it reminded me of a Granite Canyon run two weeks into a dry cycle.  Regardless, we were able to find some fun, fluffy turns on the sides of the couloir and made our way down in a few sections.

Zelie making some some pow turns.
Zelie making some some pow turns.
Fun turns in the heart of the Dike Couloir.
Fun turns in the heart of the Dike Couloir.
Looking down the bottom half of the couloir.
Looking down the bottom half of the couloir, with Zelie slaying pow.
The author making a slash.
The author making a slash.

The skiing was surprisingly fun, with plenty of powder to go around.  We made our way down into Glacier Gulch, turning before dropping down to Delta Lake to admire the scenery.

Dike Couloir.
Dike Couloir.
The Grand, Owen and a shoulder of Teewinot looming large in Glacier Gulch.
The Grand, Owen and a shoulder of Teewinot looming large in Glacier Gulch.

Overall, the couloir is only about 1000′ of vertical, but some of the best part of skiing in this zone is the fun terrain that you get to ski down to Bradley Lake.  We made our way down and across Delta Lake, then traversed right and found some fun snow to work with all the way down to a point where we started to go right around the base of Disappointment Peak and to the moraine to the right (north) of Bradley Lake.  Apparently, you can just ski down to the valley floor and work your way to the right, eventually finding the parking lot as well, but we opted for the skin track out.  We crossed Bradley Lake and made quick work of the out, taking our boots off at around 6hrs.  If was a great day to get out into the park and another fun ski with the lady!

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