In June, 2001, after making a solo ascent of the Black Ice Couloir, the iconic alpine ice climb on the north side of the Enclosure in Grand Teton National Park, I told myself that I probably didn't need to go back there. It was my second solo of the route, my third ascent ever, and I figured I had seen and experienced what I needed. But two Saturdays ago saw me, Nate Brown and Andy Dorais front-pointing our way up perfect, if not brittle, alpine ice choking the Black Ice.
I thought I was done. Really. The final descent of the Grand Teton seemed like a nice cap to the season. I've lamented not getting to ski a few lines that I had in mind, however. The Grand Teton Speed Project became a late season focus and, for better or worse, other projects were put on the back burner. But then I got the call. Nate Brown, ski partner of mine and, as it turns out, Mastercraft ski boat owner, decided that the Skillet Glacier on Mt. Moran needed our ski signatures. The novelty of a boat-assisted, mid-summer descent of a Teton classic, one that I've been itching to do for years, was too much to resist.
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.