Warm temperatures and reluctant freezing have spelled the end to my ski season. Running, cycling and climbing will now occupy my interest for a few months. Although I won't be skiing for a while, there is still much about skiing to ponder and write. The late season interest in speed has my passion peaked just as the conditions ebb. Nate Brown coined this 11th inning trend as "The Grand Teton Speed Project". This moniker represents a style of skiing the high peaks favored by a small group of ski mountaineers. I thought I would add a few thoughts on the subject to the collective.
Not Quite Right
I should've known better. I spent last Tuesday in bed with shaking chills, muscles aches and every-20-minute trips to the toilet. Brought up bad memories of cheap hotels in Kathmandu where I always had at least one episode like that before expeditions to the Himalaya. But when psyched-up ski partners call inviting me to join them on some aerobic, ski-based sufferfest it's hard for me to say no.
Nate Brown got the ball rolling and the boys from Salt Lake pushed it off the edge. Following Nate's 7:15 car to car effort last week, Jared Inouye, Jason and Andy Dorais showed up on Tuesday and crushed the record in 5:17. Kinda crazy how fast they went. But, having skied with all these cowboys, I can safely say that they are a competitive bunch of aerobic psychopaths. Perfect conditions and serious motivation came together to produce a stunning performance.
Well, I guess it's game on now. Nate Brown from Jackson set the "official" time standard on the Ford-Stettner route on the Grand Teton going 7:15:33 car to car this weekend. Nate did this after not really skiing for a month and spending the last two weeks as a tourist in Turkey. Not exactly all guns blazing for him. Still, the local cognoscenti have declared Nate's effort as a starting point for the "game".
Successful ski mountaineering outings are born from a combination of planning, conditions, the right partners and technical ability. A ski descent link-up of the Grand, Middle and South Tetons has been on my radar since I first heard of Jimmy Chin completing it a few years ago. He was not the first, however, as local legends Mark Newcomb and Stephen Koch successfully climbed and skied all three peaks several years before that. The stars aligned and we got it done last Saturday.