Jason Berning and I took Sunday to try and ski the Amore Vide ("Love of my Life" in Italian) Couloir off of the South Teton. Saturday, of course, was bluebird with little wind--felt pretty good for a massive group ride on the roads. It also would've been perfect for skiing in the alpine. Sunday was not.
|Feeling optimistic at sunrise. Photo: Jason Berning|
But things were looking pretty good as we clomped away from the truck with the alpenglow of sunrise illuminating the high peaks. After about a mile we found mostly-consistent enough snow to start skinning, and easy travel from there. The melt-freeze from the last week had left a remarkably rough texture to the snow surface--it was like having spidey-skins climbing up the steeper pitches into Garnet Canyon.
|Looks grey up there! Photo: Jason Berning|
Once we hit the Meadows things started to go downhill. A thin overcast was rolling in rapidly and it started to get breezy. As we continued up-canyon the wind picked up and seemed to blow an extra 10mph with every horizon we surmounted until we were nearly reduced to crawling in the final basin below the saddle between the Middle and South.
|Jason fights the wind after retrieving a hat that blew away down the moraines.|
|Phew! We're out of here.|
Getting blown 5-10' sideways and backwards seemed a poor setup for trying to ski off of an exposed summit, so we clawed our way out of the windblasted moraines and onto skiable "snow" to get the hell down. Which is about all it was--getting the hell down. Bulletptoof sastrugi peppered with refrozen wet avalanche debris doesn't make for fun or aesthetic turns. Definitely not the "Love of my Life".
|Watching the world blow past my ski tips.|
|Steeper in the Cave Couloir, and a hair softer. Photo: Jason Berning|
We hoped to find better snow blown into the Cave Couloir, but mostly just found steeper bullet-resistant. (Maybe a touch softer than bulletproof.) The Cave offered a welcome break for lunch as we listened to the roar of the wind over the higher ridgelines. I've heard that exfoliation is good for your skin, but my face appreciated getting out of the wind and ground-blizzard.
|Seeking shelter from the storm. Photo: Jason Berning|
|The view from the Cave--pretty cool!|
|This season's favorite ski lunch? Peanut butter, Nutella, and fruit. Strawberries on this day, but bananas are another good choice.|
The one highlight of the day (other than having an adventure with Jason) was seeing what the new Voilé Vector BC's could do. I had high expectations from the start, and was not disappointed. Light, stiff, and snappy. Paired with Voilé's skins (check out that tip clip!) they climbed like a beast and with a stiff flex, relatively narrow waist (96mm) and long sidecut they handled the "firm" conditions in Garnet Canyon as well or better than anything else I've skied.
|Trying to link-up snow as long as possible before walking out in ski boots.|
|Hard to believe...|
And that was that. The skiing improved the further we descended, until we hit Bradley Lake and stripped to shirts and ball caps. Hard to believe how gnarly it was up high once we were standing in the sauna-like temps at the lake shore. Damn.
One more note on the new skis--no skins for the trip out! The waxless pattern took me across the lake and through the moraines without a thought, and pretty soon we were back to walking a dry trail for the final mile. If anything, it was a little unnerving working through some of the skinny-snow stretches without skins on to slow me down. I'm looking forward to taking these things into the Wind Rivers!