Grand Teton Speed Project, version 2.0

Although I realize that the speed game does not appeal to everyone playing in the mountains, summertime presents another seasonal opportunity to test oneself against the clock and others in the mountain environment. We covered this territory several times in blog posts this winter and spring reporting on efforts to climb and ski the Grand Teton and other lines in the range. With the melting of the snow pack, we are left to travel similar ground on foot as we push personal limits.

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Black Ice Couloir Trip Report

Nate Brown cruising the iconic Black Ice Couloir, GTNPIn 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.

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Mid-summer Breakfast Skillet

Skillet Glacier, Mt. Moran, GTNPI 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.

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Grand Teton Speed Project Update - Weight Matters

My pack and contents for a sub-7 hour Grand TetonWarm 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.

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Last Go for the Season

Brian Ladd and the Grand Teton from South Teton

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. 

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