Tag Archives: prospector mountain

Banana Couloir – Prospectors Mountain

Location: GTNP, Prospectors Mountain, Open Canyon
Elevation: 11,180′, 4,894′ gain/loss
Distance: 14 miles RT
Difficulty: 3+ stars
Time: 6-9 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 1/13/2016
Snow Conditions: Powder, consolidated powder between 10,000′ and 8,000′, wind crust up high-first 400′, sun affected snow down low

Tuesday night, while tuning some skis at Teton Village Sports–Tristan and I discussed what we should ski the following morning.  There was a chance of some weather blowing in, so we immediately ruled out a few objectives we had been eyeing in the high alpine and decided on skiing something that I was able to accomplish last year.  The Banana Couloir is not quite a couloir, but rather a large gully that runs from the northeastern shoulder of Prospectors Mountain into Open Canyon.  It is fairly steep towards the top, but mellows out near the bottom.  It is a big avalanche path and does have a cliff/waterfall at its precipice, so it is not a run to be taken lightly.

Banana Couloir Vantage
Good view of the entire Banana

The main difficulty with the run is the route finding.  When we skied it last year, we went north on Moose-Wilson Rd, then cut left at a point and broke trail into Open Canyon.  This worked, but I thought that going towards Olive Oil on the normal skin track, then continuing on into the canyon would be a little faster.  I also wanted to test out my navigation capabilities on my new Suunto Traverse.  I mapped out the route to the base of the Banana the night before and was hopeful that it would work.

IMG_2285

Tristan, Stu and I left the Granite Canyon Trailhead at 7:25am as another group was getting ready a few cars away.  As we passed them, we asked what they were planning on skiing-already pretty sure it was the Banana because of the ice axes.  They confirmed our suspicions, but we were going to have a head start and felt comfortable sharing the line if we had to.

We cruised out on Moose-Wilson Rd., cutting left into the woods about a half-mile from the trailhead.  We followed the track all the way to the northeast ridge of Olive Oil, then continued right (North) into Open Canyon.  We were following an old skin track, but my Suunto said we were on target-so we continued on.  Eventually, we made our way into the canyon and a clearing.  We knew we were a little ways down canyon from the end of the couloir, but decided to take the faded skin track in front of us up for a bit, then cut left and make our way into the Banana.

View of the top of the line from the field.
View of the top of the line from the field.
GPS.  You can see that our uptrack was a bit right of the Banana to start.
GPS. You can see that our uptrack was a bit right of the Banana to start.

We worked our way up on the track, eventually breaking trail left at 8,600′.  We knew that the “V-Couloir Gully” was pretty nasty and wanted to be below that.  It worked out perfectly and we made our way across that gully and then into the east ridge of the Banana.

Looking down the "V-Couloir Gully"
Looking down the “V-Couloir Gully”

We cruised up the ridge, slipping at times on a sun crust/faceted snow, but making good time.  Towards the top, we bootpacked a steep section-then continued skinning to the upper bowl.  At the bowl, we bootpacked up-eventually reaching a spot near the top, but not actually on the summit (It is part of the Winter Wildlife Closure in the Mt. Hunt area).  We topped out at 5hrs, which was almost 2hrs faster than the last time I skied this line.

IMG_2156 IMG_2162 IMG_2163

After quickly gearing up, we decided on a plan of attack for the upper portion of the run and gave it a go.  The top 400′ was wind affected and a bit grabby.  It was a little slow going, but still fun snow.  Once off the upper bowl, the snow became consolidated and very fun.  Some people call it “cream cheese snow” and whatever your name is for it, the snow was fun!  We skied down in a few pushes, not wanting to waste the big open run with numerous stops.  The snow near the bottom was a little isothermal in spots, but it was still fun and we made it down to the canyon floor in no time.

IMG_2165

IMG_2169

IMG_2171

IMG_2176

IMG_2178

IMG_2180

IMG_2185

IMG_2201

IMG_2213

IMG_2225

IMG_2227

IMG_2553

IMG_2569

IMG_2235

IMG_2237

IMG_2252

IMG_2258

After making it down to the bottom, we worked our way down canyon until we caught the track back to Olive Oil.  It was a very easy out and we were soon skating back to the truck on Moose-Wilson Rd.  We made it to the trailhead in 6hrs 30min, pleased with the day and conditions.  Once again–another fun day in GTNP schussing around.

FullSizeRender

Keep on Adventuring!

Apocalypse Couloir

Location: GTNP, Death Canyon, Prospector Mountain
Elevation: 10,104′, 5,049′ gain/loss
Distance: 13 miles RT
Difficulty: 4 stars
Time: 6-8 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 12/31/2015
Snow Conditions: Packed powder, caulk, breakable crust, loose sluff

After being told I could either have New Years Eve off or I could come in and shovel snow off a metal roof in sub degree temperatures I decided for the former and a ski tour. Zach Simon was quick to get back to my text with some ‘solid beta’ on Apocalypse and after thinking about it for a while I was in. Apocalypse is a very committing ski line and it is not something to take lightly. With the current state of these persistent weak layers lingering throughout our snow pack, I am cautiously deciding on the next ski line. But with the information that Zach had received and the knowledge of the area I felt the snow was safe in there and we would be able to manage the terrain. Zach had already had Tanner on board and with the call from me that afternoon the plan was set.

We got to Death Canyon parking lot an hour before sunrise and the temperature read -21 degrees. Cold! After leaving at 7 am, we were soon warm enough and cruising up towards the Phelps Lake overlook. Took the skins off and after a quick ski we were down at the base of the canyon and back into the arctic cold. By the time we put our skins back on, Zach and mine had lost their stick and we were struggling with them the rest of the skin up! A recommendation: put your skins in your jacket to keep them warm when transitioning!

IMG_9569
First light on the Four Horsemen and Death Canyon
IMG_9573
Sunshine!
IMG_9577
Ski strap under the boot worked out alright!

It took us four hours from the truck to reach the top of the couloir. The air was crisp and the sun was warm. It was nice to have a skin track already set which made all the extra weight a little more bearable. With a slow transition into rappel mode we geared up and were soon dropping into the cold and ominous Apocalypse Couloir. We brought up two ropes, one 60m, one 70m, both 8mm Dry Coat. It really helped expedite the rappels and made for two double raps up high and one on the exit through the ice bulge area.

Zach dropping in!
Zach dropping in!
Tanner making his way down
Tanner making his way down
V-Notch looking pretty nice!
V-Notch looking pretty nice!
Tanner on the second rap
Tanner on the second rap
Zach starting us off
Zach starting us off

The snow was pretty good in there. There was a variety of snow: some hard packed caulk, mostly old bed surfaces where it had flushed out on, there was some soft newly deposited cold smoke and there was some wind packed breakable crust that made things interesting. All in all it was skiable, but somewhat slowly caution skiing was in store. With the early season snow, everything felt tight, compacted and the skiing was steep!

Top portion
Top portion
Into the rabbit hole we go
Into the rabbit hole we go
IMG_9669
Zach making his way down the elevator shaft
IMG_9685
Tanner at the end of the elevator
Rappelling through the ice
Rappelling through the ice

We opted for a double 60m rap on the exit to speed things up a bit. It worked out great and we’re back skiing in no time. There was a v-thread about 30m down if you opted for a two rap out. The skiing on the exit was great and the apron opened up with some solid powder turns all the way down to the steam.

All in all, it took us 8 hours from car to car. I think we could have done it faster without the frozen skins, but it was a solid day out skiing one to the more enjoyable and exciting lines the park has to offer.

Mayan Apocalypse

Location: GTNP, Death Canyon, Prospector Mountain, Mayan Apocalypse
Elevation, Gain/Loss: 10,491’, 5,351’ gain/loss
Distance: 12 miles RT
Difficulty: 4 stars
Time:  7-9 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 02/24/2015
Snow Conditions: Packed powder, powder, sun crust, wind crust.  A strong northerly wind over the past few days created variable conditions on this north facing slope.

After a great day skiing off the South Teton Monday, Dane and I decided to head back to the park Tuesday and tackle a couloir we had heard a lot about this year.  The “Mayan Apocalypse” is a north facing shot up Death Canyon a little past the patrol cabin.  With northerly aspects skiing great the day before, we decided it was a worthy objective for the day.  We left the Death Canyon trailhead around 8:30am and worked our way along the track at a brisk pace.  After skiing down from Phelps Lake Overlook, we were quickly back skinning below the apron of the Apocalypse Couloir and into Death Canyon.  We got to the patrol cabin in around 2hrs and took a little break to take in the views.  Death Canyon offers enough ski runs for an entire season and we were pretty excited about the potential the zone offered.  After the break, we worked our way up canyon (to the left) and found ourselves staring at the access to Rimrock Lake.  There, directly to the left is the “Mayan Apocalypse”.  It is hidden by a steep treed slope and a rocky chute that is in effect the couloirs drainage.  We worked our way up around the impassable bulge of rock and eventually were looking at a tight gully above the rocky chute.  We transferred over to boot pack mode and made our way into a large opening directly below the couloir proper.  We worked our way up the steep couloir, noticing some soft avalanche debris in spots and firm crust where the slide had washed the snow out of the couloir.  We came to the middle of the couloir, initially thinking this was the end, only to find that a much steeper portion of the couloir was still waiting for us.  We worked our way up and to the right, finding some very firm, steep sections of climbing along the way.  We eventually came to the end of the climbing on a very steep (50 degree) slope, just below a few cornices.  We gently kicked out a step for our skis and got geared up.  The top portion was very fun on the left side, where the wind had deposited a good amount of snow.  Once into the upper middle section, the snow became firm and each turn was pretty spicy, but we made it through some rocks and into the lower section without issue.  Here, the slide had washed out half the couloir, but the half with soft snow remaining was very fun.  We also found the debris piles to be very soft and fun to surf on for a turn or two.  We made it out of the couloir proper and found some fun turns on the upper apron before the couloir pinched into the gully leading to the rocky chute.  We made a few turns in the gully, then exited to our left and found some soft powder turns to the traverse out of Death Canyon.  We quickly worked our way back to the truck in just over 7hrs 30min and were pleased with the adventure and the gnarly couloir we had just skied.

Apocalypse Couloir

Location: GTNP, Death Canyon, Prospector Mountain
Tags: Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Ski Mountaineering
Elevation: 10,104′, 5,049′ gain/loss
Distance: 9 miles RT
Difficulty: 4 stars
Time: 6-8 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 2/11/2015
Snow Conditions: 7″ of dense powder, stable with pockets of deeper snow.  Fast moving sluff, but no area of concern.

After a decent storm dropped around 2 feet of snow in the mountains a week ago, we decided it was time to get out and do some exploring.  With warm temperatures and sunny days following the storm, the northern aspects were the only areas holding some quality snow.  After some discussion, we decided on the Apocalypse Couloir.  I skied this last year in awful conditions, so was hopeful that we would find some couloir powder.  Dane, Tristan, Darren and I met at 6am in town and made our way out to the Death Canyon Trailhead.  We left the car a little before 7am and worked our way along the track.

Working our way to the Prospectors Mountain.
Working our way to Prospector Mountain.

We followed the same route up to Apocalypse Couloir that you do to Son of Apocalypse, only you proceed another 700 vertical feet or so up along the southern ridge.  Just to the left of the termination of the ridge is the entrance to the Apocalypse.

Dane working his way up the ridge.  Slightly left of the high point is the entry point to Apocalypse.
Dane working his way up the ridge above Son of Apocalypse. Slightly left of the high point is the entry point to the Apocalypse Couloir.
A cloud layer enveloping the valley, with Albright Peak to the left.
A cloud layer enveloping the valley, with Albright Peak to the left.

There is one large tree to the left of the entrance that the cordelette is to tied around.  The two times I have skied this line, I had to dig around for it in the snow, but it is there.  It is purple and does not show any sign of wear.  As always, I would recommend bringing along some extra webbing, cordelette and a few nuts for this adventure.  We geared up in our harnesses and soaked in the last of the sunshine before descending into the dark gully.

The "V Notch Couloir".
The “V Notch Couloir” to the South.
Getting ready in the sun.
Getting ready in the sun.
Looking into the upper section of Apocalypse.  A few rappels are necessary to get into the skiable park of the couloir.
Looking into the upper section of Apocalypse. A few rappels are necessary to get into the skiable portion of the couloir.

We rappelled off the top anchor and found a decent anchor about 20m down on the lookers right.  It consisted of 4 nuts with some webbing.  We had to make some adjustments to the anchor to balance it, but felt good about it after and worked our way down from there.  After the second rappel, we were 6m short of some purple anchors down on the lookers left (we used a 60m rope).  Here, we all should have just downclimbed in the steep snow to the last anchor, but instead everyone but myself put their skis on and sideslipped over some rocks to the anchor.

Darren rappelling off the top anchor.
Darren rappelling off the top anchor.
Dane rappelling off the second anchor, working his way over a bulge.
Dane rappelling off the second anchor, working his way over a bulge.
Tristen, stoked for the adventure.
Tristan, stoked for the adventure.

Last year, you could just slip your way down into the skiable portion of the couloir from here, but this year there was a 6ft drop with a small rock ledge below preventing that.  It was very tight at this point, barely a ski length and getting the skis straight to make the jump seemed a bit risky to me.  Tristan and Darren decided that they felt comfortable with the risk and gave the drop a go, each landing in soft snow and making a hard right turn to get in a safe spot.  Dane and I rappelled the section, quickly coiling the rope and getting ready for the skiing.  We encountered what I call “rope time” during our rappels.  When time seems to slow because of your focus, but in reality everything is taking an exorbitant amount of time.  We were all getting pretty cold standing around in the shade and were pumped to get moving.  We skied the large, mellow first pitch tentatively, checking the stability of the snow before it drops into the “elevator shaft”.  The snow was stable, soft and fun to our surprise and delight!

Dane making some powder turns in the upper portion of the couloir.
Dane making some powder turns in the upper portion of the couloir.

Before the steep rollover, we regrouped and quickly made our way down the 50 degree slope.

Tristen, working his way down the steepest portion of the run.
Tristan, working his way down the steepest portion of the run.
Steep and Deep.
Steep and Deep.

From here, we skied across the “main” gully of the couloir, below the Four Horsemen and took a look down into the narrows.  We couldn’t see the ice bulge (pinch) of the run from this vantage point, but were all hopeful we had had the correct beta that it was filled in and skiable.  We skied down to the pinch to inspect the ice bulge.

Working our way down to the crux of the run.
Working our way down to the crux of the run.

Standing above the bulge, we could see that it was indeed skiable.  It was at most a ski length at its tightest point, but with a little side slip we could make it through.  I “skied” down through it first, marveling at the beauty of this special spot in the park, but aware that we needed to move fast.  A runnel had formed from all our sluff, which made it even more difficult to navigate the crux, but with some careful work, I made it through, into the tight lower section of the couloir.

Trist, making his way into the crux.
Trist, making his way into the crux.
Tristen slashing the couloir powder as he exits the crux.
Slashing couloir powder is fun!
What a couloir!
Icicles for day.!
The fun lower section of the run.
The fun lower section of the run.

Everyone made it through the ice bulge safely and quickly.  The difficult part of the run was over, so we skied the lower section out to the apron of the couloir.  We did this “Canadian Style” and were sitting at the base of the couloir a few minutes later, elated to have skied such a great run.

Apocalypse Couloir apron.
Apocalypse Couloir apron.

We quickly made our way out of Death Canyon and enjoyed a few snacks and laughs in the sun before skinning up the Phelps Lake Overlook.  We made a fast exit to the truck, arriving in just over 7hrs.  It was a great day and even more special because our good friend Darren Johnson had come down from Big Sky, MT to join us on the adventure.  Hopefully he sees the light soon and makes the move to Jackson.

Darren, aka @yellowstoneclubturd
Darren, aka @yellowstoneclubturd

Banana Couloir

 

Location: GTNP, Prospector Mountain, Open Canyon, Granite Canyon Trailhead
Elevation, Gain/Loss: 11,163’, 5,220’ gain/loss
Distance: 12 miles RT
Difficulty: 4 stars
Time:  7-9 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 1/21/2015
Snow Condition: 10″ of Consolidated Powder with areas of faceted snow and some small pockets of unstable snow at lower elevation.

The Banana Couloir is a ski mountaineering run that many have stared at during the winter months, wondering what it would be like to ski such an aesthetically pleasing line.  I have been guilty of looking up at this East/Southeast facing couloir off Prospector Mountain for years, always wanting to ski it, but not sure how, or when the right time would be.  Well, after some thought the other night, I rallied my brother Dane and friend Close to head up Open Canyon and give it a try.

We left Granite Canyon Trailhead at 7am as the first flicker of daylight began to light up the sky.  We had a pretty solid plan for how to navigate the approach to the base of the couloir, but were unsure if it would translate into success.  After pouring over google earth, I found an old road 1.2 miles down Moose-Wilson Rd. that would take us close to the beginning of Open Canyon without much bushwhacking.  It veers off to the left, before Moose-Wilson Rd. makes a hard right and the pavement begins.  This proved to work, with a skin track taking us into the often overgrown and seldom traveled area to the south of Phelps Lake.

Our first glimpse of Banana Couloir.
Our first glimpse of Banana Couloir.

With a visual of our objective, we took a left and started breaking trail towards Open Canyon.  The snow was solid because of the low elevation rain event from a few days before, so we cruised up canyon with relative ease.  We came to a ravine at some point and not thinking, dropped into it and crossed the stream.  In hindsight, we should have just stayed on the right side of this gully, because it was the drainage from Open Canyon and we needed to be on the right side of it to start our climb.

Dane crossing a nice snow bridge.
Dane crossing a nice snow bridge.

Despite that minor setback, we made it to what we thought was the base of the couloir in just over 2hrs.  Here we stopped for a few minutes to eat and decided how to tackle the initial steep face.

Base of the Banana Couloir. Looks like it would be a waterfall in the summer.
Base of the Banana Couloir. Looks like it would be a waterfall in the summer.

We decided to begin our climb to the lookers left of the “waterfall”, but I think the easiest and safest line up is to the right, through the trees and cliffs.  Upon starting up, we heard numerous whomps as the snow collapsed on a weak layer at about 7600′ in elevation.  This was very concerning to us and we discussed proceeding or not, but decided that the weak layer was only a low elevation (surface hoar) issue.  We continued up cautiously for around 500′, making quick switchbacks on relatively exposed face, maintaining a policy of only one person on the slope at a time.  After a stress filled, painfully slow initial hour of climbing, we seemed to be out of danger, having not heard a whomp for 200′ or so.  The slope got pretty steep and crusted here, so we took off our skis and shouldered them for another 500′ until we reached the top of the steep initial face.  We quickly got back into skin mode and tried to make up some of our lost time as we worked our way up and to the right.  We got our first look at the Banana Couloir from up close not long after and were a little concerned at its size and the distance we still had to cover before reaching the top.  We worked our way up the left side of the massive couloir for around 500′, before crossing the couloir to the safer, less exposed right ridge.

Working our way up and across the Banana Couloir.
Working our way up and across the Banana Couloir.
Looking up the couloir, about 2000' from the top.
Looking up the couloir, about 2000′ from the top.
Working our way up the ridge.
Working our way up the ridge.

After gaining the ridge, we proceeded up at a frustrating slow pace due to the slick snow conditions and a few points where we had to take off our skis to get over some rock outcroppings.  We struggled up, eventually coming to a steep, exposed section that we had to quickly bootpack through.  After making it through this pinch in the couloir, we could see the summit, but we a little unsure if we would get to the top.  The sun was warming the snow a little faster then we would have liked and none of us felt like going for a 3500′ ride down the couloir in an avalanche.  We set a turn around time of 1:30pm and decided to push for the top at full speed.  We skinned our way up the mellow upper “bowl” for a bit, but had to switch over to bootpacking about 800′ from the top.  The snow was surprisingly stable, but after our experience down low, we were all a little nervous to be on the upper face, exposed to avalanches.

Bootpacking up the final face.
Bootpacking up the final face.

We made great time up the face, making it to the summit just past 1pm, but were all aware that now we had to make it down this large avalanche path safely.  We took a few pictures, admired the entry into the “V Notch Couloir” and quickly geared up for the ski.

View to the North.
View to the North.
Scary entry into the "V Couloir"
Scary entry into the “V Notch Couloir”…it doesn’t ski through

I made two big ski cuts on the rollover with Dane and Close watching, but when nothing budged we cautiously skied the upper section – gaining confidence in the snow with each turn.  The skiing was unreal – fun/bouncy/playful powder with areas of deeper snow on the northeast facing right wall.  We worked our way all the way down in several sections, having a blast and hooting all the way to the last pitch.

First turns from the top.
First turns from the top.
Dane, harvesting the Banana.
Dane, harvesting the Banana.
Close making turns towards the top.
Close making turns towards the top.
Fun turns down the huge couloir.
Fun turns down the huge couloir.
More powder!
More powder!
Dane, entering the steep middle section.
Dane, entering the steep middle section.
A look up the Banana Couloir from around 9500'.
A look up the Banana Couloir from around 9500′.
Dane, milking the turns
Dane, milking the turns
Close, skiing the lower gut.
Close, skiing the lower gut.
A view up from above the last pitch.  What an amazing run.
A view up from above the last pitch. What an amazing run.

We approached the lower face from skiers left of the waterfall and cautiously made our way down, all to aware of the potential instability the snowpack displayed earlier.  We made it down to a cliffband about 200′ from the bottom of the canyon.  There were two possible ski throughs and I chose a less exposed ski to the left.  I made it down and gave a hoot, signally the next skier should come down to me.  All of a sudden, Dane yelled, “Avalanche!”.  I moved behind a tree and as I did, looked up and could see snow beginning to flow over the cliff.  It didn’t look huge, but saw large blocks of snow from what appeared to be a hard slab rolling over the cliff for what seemed like minutes.  When the snow stopped, I could hear someone yelling from below the cliff (to my left) and nothing from above where Dane and Close had just been.  I called for Dane again and thankfully heard him yell, “I’m safe, but Close got taken down below!”.  I raced down to the debris pile at the bottom of the cliff band and as I approached, saw Close’s pole.  My mind was racing, but was going for my transceiver to search for Close when I heard something from above.  It was Brian, he had been pulled over a small cliff and thankfully found some way to stop himself from being dragged over the much larger cliff edge a few feet in front of him.  He said he was missing his ski and pole, but he was ok.  I looked around in the debris pile for a bit and luckily found his ski half buried, but intact.

Brian making his way down to his ski, very luck to be safe.
Brian making his way down to his ski, very luck to be safe.

Dane gingerly made his way down after Close had retrieved his ski and we collectively let out a sigh of relief.  We knew the snowpack at the lower elevation had some weaknesses, but thought we could mitigate them.  We were wrong, but thankfully we all made it out safe.

The crown of the pocket that ripped out about 50' from where Close made a turn (He was the third one to come down).
The crown of the pocket that ripped out about 50′ from where Close made a turn (He was the third one to come down).

We traversed around to the right (south), keeping high and trying to make it around the lower flanks of Olive Oil and find a skin track out.  Eventually we found a fast one all the way out to Moose-Wilson Rd. and pushed our way back to the truck in 8hrs.  It was a great day, but very easily could have been a tragic one.

Son of Apocalypse

2015-01-17 13.37.39

Location: GTNP, Death Canyon, Prospector Mountain
Tags: Backcountry Skiing, Skiing, Ski Mountaineering
Elevation: 9,413′, 4,262′ gain/loss
Distance: 8 miles RT
Difficulty: 4 stars
Time: 5-6 hours

Trip Report:

Date: 1/17/2015
Snow Conditions: 10″ of consolidated powder, stable with pockets of deeper snow

With around 10″ of snow and more on the way: Chase, Tim and I decided to venture into GTNP during a weather window to try and tackle Son of Apocalypse.  It is one of many north facing couloirs off Prospector Mountain that end up in Death Canyon.  We left town around 8:15am, delighted by the amazing weather and great visibility.  We were moving from the Death Canyon parking area at 9am and made some good time up to Phelps Overlook.  Here, we took off our skins and traversed right (south), following the summer trail until we crossed onto the large field to the west of Phelps Lake.

Field to the west of Phelps Lake.
Field to the west of Phelps Lake.

We made a few fun turns down the field and then straight-lined it for the far end of the field and the snow covered bridge towards the south west of the field.  We transitioned back to skin mode and started moving up and to the right – onto a flank of Prospector Mountain.  In the past, I have gone across the south west corner of Phelps Lake and started skinning up the obvious avalanche path, but we decided to try a different path considering we were going to be breaking trail regardless.

The far avalanche path is the "normal" starting point of the skin.
The far avalanche path is the “normal” starting point of the skin.

We worked our way up, through some tight growth and eventually found ourselves lookers right of the avalanche path and the “normal” skin up.  We crossed the path and continued up the ridge, finding a faint skin track from a few days earlier.  The up was fairly easy and we soon found ourselves on the ridge that eventually leads to the Son of Apocalypse.  We found the little depression in the ridge we were looking for around 4hrs from leaving the truck.  While waiting for the group, I scoped out an alternative entry to the couloir that would provide a lot more spice, but looked doable if the conditions were right.

Alternative entry couloir into Son of Apocalypse.
Alternative entry couloir into Son of Apocalypse.

We changed over to ski mode and made some quick assessments of the snowpack.  It seemed stable, with no areas of concern and we decided on a few ski cuts to test our theory.  This provided no movement, so we proceeded on with cautious optimism.

Tim skiing pow down the first pitch.
Tim skiing pow down the first pitch.

The snow proved to be very fun and deep, with minimal sluff or crust.  We cruised down the first pitch and then got into the heart of the couloir, with large rock walls and numerous hanging snow fields rising from each side.

Tim, skiing down the second pitch.
Tim, skiing in the distance down the second pitch.
More couloir powder turns please.
More couloir powder turns please.

We made our way down the massive couloir, each having a blast and amazed at the amount of snow in the couloir.  We were unsure if the rock band in the middle of the couloir had filled in, but were confident that we could either air/down climb it if necessary.  So with a little trepidation, we reached the crux and found that it has filled in enough to pick our way through it.

Chase and Tim above the crux of the ski.
Chase and Tim above the crux of the ski.

From here, the couloir eventually pinched into a fairly tight choke toward the bottom of the run, before opening up to the exit apron.  We skied down to the pinch and passed through without incident.

Looking down to the pinch.
Looking down to the pinch.
Chase, looking nothing like a Colorado skier.
Chase, looking nothing like a Colorado skier coming out of the pinch.

We skied the apron down for a bit and had a look up to Apocalypse Couloir to see if the ice bulge was filled in.  We couldn’t determine if it was, but could tell that if it was skiable, it must be about a ski length wide at most.

Exit of Apocalypse Couloir.
Exit of Apocalypse Couloir.

From here, we crossed the stream and found the summer trail out of Death Canyon, which proved to be quite fast (up on the north side of the canyon).  We eventually put our skins back on and made our way across the field from earlier and up to Phelps Overlook.  We took one last look at Prospector Mountain and Death Canyon before turning our backs on the zone and making our way back to the truck.

Son of Apocalypse.
Son of Apocalypse.

The traverse/ski back was fairly fast, with us arriving at the truck in 5hrs 40min.  We felt pretty lucky to have skied a couloir like that in deep snow and even more fortunate that the snow was completely stable.  We knew that days like this were few and far between in the Tetons and soaked in the joy as we made the drive back to town.