Location: GTNP, Garnet Canyon, Bradley/Taggart
Elevation, gain/loss: 9883, 4018’ gain/loss
Distance: 9 miles RT
Difficulty: 2 stars
Time: 4hrs – 6hrs
Snow Conditions: Powder, mild sun/wind crust 12″ down
Well, here we are……another winter in Jackson, WY. While it has been slow to take off, it appears the storm system that is hitting us now will be enough to open up much of the area for exploring. As for myself, I have been skiing Teton Pass a bunch and had one trip up Mavericks a couple weeks back that didn’t seem worthy of a post (great first 1000′), but then very thin.
So with a storm approaching and around 8″ of new now over the past couple days, Dane and I set out into GTNP to see what was going on. We didn’t have an “objective”, just figured we would ski something that looked promising and ideally stay away from exposed sage brush. We decided to try and get into Garnett Canyon and ski the Cave Couloir – thinking that it would be a good opportunity to see what the conditions were like. We skinned out from Bradley/Taggart along the road and took the track to the left before the bridge. Following this trail through a large field until eventually it dips left into an obvious drainage. The track wasn’t bad and we made good time up to the lower face of Disappointment Peak. We eventually found the summer trail to Garnett and followed that for a while. We were a little cautious out on the face, but didn’t see any signs of concern. After making it up the face, we cut left and into Garnett Canyon from a little above where the summer trail goes. After skin-skiing down a few hundred feet and one faceplant into a tree well, we were greeted with a grim sight. Garnett Canyon still had massive rocks showing below the Caves and it didn’t look promising.
We discussed a few options, but in the end thought that the ski out of the Canyon would be dangerous and not any fun. So, we decided to go up to Surprise Lake and ski the Lower Face of Disappointment down to the valley floor. The snow had looked great on the way up, so we weren’t too sad about the change of plans. We made quick work getting out of Garnett Canyon and then made our way up for about 1500′ to a little pinnacle to the left of Surprise Lake.
From here we had some views of the Spoon Couloir, Shadow Peak and Garnett Canyon. The Spoon looked to be skiable, although it was thin below the couloir and we couldn’t tell what Amphitheater Lake looked like.
So we geared up and had ourselves a rip. The snow was fun and supportive the entire way down. We took turns cruising down, on the lookout for any instabilities, but didn’t find any besides some minor sluff here and there.
Overall, it was definitely better than I thought it was going to be and proved to be a fun day in the park. We hit our skin track at the bottom and followed that out of the drainage and then pushed past the cabins and into the big field. We eventually made it to the truck in around 5hrs, happy to have skied some fun snow and get a feel for the snow conditions in the park. With the new snow today (Monday) and a little projected through the week – I imagine the lower faces will be skiing nice, but some of the bigger lines are still a little difficult to access. Until next time…….Keep on Adventuring!