A fall worth remembering in the Tetons

People skinning up toward Paintbrush.

By Elizabeth Koutrelakos

Thanksgiving can provide ample food and time to digest great things that have occurred over the span of the season. My gratitude commenced when the September snow covered the huckleberries while they were still ripe, forcing me to put down my bucket and pick up my Voodoo splitboard!

Drizzly mountain bottom on the way up to Garnet Canyon.

Sunhats quickly got swapped with beanies and the adventuring began. Chippy conditions were expected during the inaugural tennis-shoe walk to snow-covered hills. Once we got above the light drizzle of low clouds, views of Garnet Canyon rose, and up we went to the Middle Teton Glacier. About 30 cm of fluffy powder on summer snow created ideal turns and got me slightly more interested in Old Man Winter. The best part about this premature taste of fluff was the access — the park road was open with rideable snow on the peaks.

South fork of Garnet peaks out to say hello.

Other notable shreds include Disappointment Peak and meandering up some line in Paintbrush Canyon during mid-October. The most extreme portion of these early season conditions entailed split-skiing down a semi-snowy trail in that awkward elevation where the trail had substantial snow, but off trail was a no go. The old “pizza technique” was out of the question as shark fins lined the sides of the trail, so one could only point it and hope for the best. One point-and-shoot creek crossing damped my life for the moment, but all other attempts were deemed successful.

Looking down from top of Middle Teton Glacier.

The greatest riding occurred the week of Thanksgiving, due to consistent snowfall and ample coverage of lower faces. A rare sunny-day skin with friends up the east ridge of Buck Mountain provided delicious snacks, crisp mountain views and pleasant skiing. I’ve skied the east face many times, but the ridge itself provided a spicy dimension to riding down. This fall has been the best Teton coverage experienced in my speck of a lifetime. I double checked the bottom of my board to reaffirm this fact. … It’s beginning to look a lot like it’s time to embrace winter.

Rising above the clouds in Stewart’s Draw.