The early snow of October kept my gaze toward the high peaks most of the month. Some friends got out right after the storm and skied powder on the Middle Teton Glacier. It looked fantastic although they didn't ski from the top of the "notch" below the summit pyramid. Various commitments kept me from getting up there right away but a window opened a couple of weeks later and I rallied the usual suspects for a look-see.
It's one thing to carve up your own gear but entirely another to permanently modify someone else's. I recently took a Dremel Tool to a brand new pair of skis which I purchased for a friend last spring. He lives in Europe much of the year and wanted me to pick out and buy a pair of skis for him during one of the end-of-the-season sales we have in Jackson. So, I found a pair of sweet Trab Stelvios for about 40% off. Although nice right our of the box, they still needed some refinement.
Dane Burns is a machinist with an unquenchable thirst for cold and scary alpine and ice climbing. He writes about it frequently on his blog, www.coldthistle.blogspot.com. Bloggers in the climbing world seem to find each other with some regularity. I read Dane and he reads me. Not too long ago, he commented about my Petzl Quark ice tools which he noticed in some pictures of me climbing the Black Ice Couloir. He implied that my set-up was less than ideal and he could offer me an upgrade of his own creation. Cool.
Here in Jackson we're having one of the best autumns in recent memory. Week after week of splitter blue skies and warm temps nearly make me forget that the ski season is almost upon us. But changing colors and cool mornings lately are reminding me that early season preparation needs to begin in order to be ready to skimo race in January.
This past Saturday I ventured out onto one of the area's classic trail loops, the Death Canyon to the South Fork of Cascade Canyon. This run climbs over 6,000 vertical feet in about 24 miles. It travels from the White Grass trailhead, past the Phelps Lake overlook, up to the Death Canyon patrol cabin, hangs a right up to Static Peak divide, summiting Static Peak, then down across the basin on the west side of the range, into Alaska Basin, over Hurricane Pass and finally down the South and Main Cascade drainages to the String Lake parking lot. We traversed an amazing amount of alpine terrain on mostly runnable trails.