ON ROCK! Glissading The Spoon
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Making the decision to store my skis for the spring off-season was an easy one this year with the Teton approaches melting quickly. However, snow mountaineering conditions are in prime shape right now. Many on-snow climbing accidents here are a result of poor technique and skills in self-arresting with an ice axe. Take a snow school with a guide service to learn, or have an experienced friend teach you how to stop yourself when sliding or falling on snow. Especially know how to stop yourself if you are glissading out of control.
Last week, I climbed the east-facing snow couloir (II, 4.0) on Disappointment Peak (11,618 feet), affectionately known as “The Spoon.” Leaving the Lupine Meadows lot, we hiked the seemingly endless switchbacks to Amphitheater Lake in the dark. After booting up, crampons were used to ascend the steep snow couloir while we watched a beautiful sunrise behind us. By the time we topped out onto the big snowfield to the summit, the snow was soft enough to kick steps without the crampons. After a quick look around from the summit, I started thinking about all the snow climbs to be had right now, and how The Spoon was my very first climb in the Tetons centuries ago.
Glissading down to the top of The Spoon was quick and fun. Opting not to belay each other down the steep snow, we then decided to keep glissading down the couloir. Things got real serious, but after a couple slides and rolls to self-arrest, while the mounds of wet snow slowly slid past, I got more comfortable. It actually became crazy fun back to the lake.
For gear: stiff Vibram boots, crampons, ice axe, 50-meter rope, helmets, harnesses, and one snow picket. For beta: “A Climber’s Guide to The Teton Range” by Ortenburger and Jackson. Rock On!