October was a cold, wet month in the Tetons, and in the West in general. By the end of October, the Teton High Country looked pretty white. It was tempting to go skiing, but how to get up into that lovely, white high country? Grand Targhee has the best early access to Teton high country, and in the early season, they are still open to uphill traffic.
I agreed to go with Bob on October 29. Going with Bob made me a little nervous: he will ski in almost any awful condition. That’s why he has the name, Bob Frost-On-Rocks Benedict. If I were going by myself, I’d stick to the lower part of the mountain, where the angle is low, and the ground below is mostly grass and plants. But Bob usually wants to go to the summit.
Against my better judgement, I agreed to go to the top of the mountain. All the way up, I tried to memorize the thin spots, or spots with lots of rocks. After a while, my memory was full.
I got to the top about 10 minutes before Bob. The top section of the mountain actually looked pretty good, with a 1 to 2 foot base. I decided to do a quick run while waiting for Bob. I quickly peeled my skins, locked down, and started, very gingerly, down the slope. My first turn was very cautious. But the snow felt pretty good, so I actually let some speed build up so I could use momentum to turn. Pleasant surprise. It was quite fun, but still nerve racking. I skied down to Bob and put my skins back on. We did another short run following my first line down to Bob.
Then we did another one from the summit to the bottom. The lower two thirds of the mountain weren’t as bad as I expected. That part was skied off enough that you can see most of the obstacles. We made it down without injury.
I really enjoyed the day. It was sunny and calm and the snow was OK, and almost good at the top third. But I decided I would wait for more snow before going again.
After that first day, it didn’t snow again for 3 weeks. In fact, it’s now November 24 and the conditions have steadily deteriorated since that nice first day.
Waiting for snow.