As the 2022/23 winter is slow to ramp up, and I’m still spending time digesting my Thanksgiving meal with family, I figured I would add this short bight from what was perhaps my first “real” Teton ski mountaineering descent – the famed Spoon Couloir on Disappointment Peak – circa 2018. Are you ready?
(trip report from early February 2018)
Skiing the Spoon Couloir on Disappointment Peak, coupled with the East Face of Albright Peak and the Four Hour Couloir on Shadow Peak, shifted the paradigm on the way I would interact with the Teton winter landscape for the next five-plus years. I was a predominant resort skier beforehand – an east coast park rat turned west coast ski-bummin’ powder hound. I had skied a few “big” mountain backcountry lines such as the Turkey Chute on 25 Short and the East Couloir on Housetop Mountain (en’ route to a trans-Teton traverse, I really should do a short write up on this rad line) but was still a cliff huckin’, beer sluggin’, storm chasin’ boy at heart. The winter of 2017/18 I got the adventurous bug (and fitness bug, and disenfatuation with knee buckling aerial antics bug) and began spending more time on TetonAT.com, ogling over trip reports on Mount Moran, the Grand Teton, and the other colossal peaks that dominate the Teton skyline. Could they be skied? And if they could, by me?
After sufficient internet inspiration I began conning coworkers and roommates alike to explore the further realms, and after knocking off low hanging fruit on Albright and Shadow I was ready to shoot higher. Cue stage right – the Spoon Couloir on Disappointment Peak. Typically combined with a near-summit ski descent of the hanging east face snowfield, “The Spoon” represented a logical stepping stone in my quest to become a Teton ski mountaineer. Two fellow Targhee friends, Scott and Briana, joined the journey, and as a relatively inexperienced triad we set out to make high-country aspirations a reality.
I don’t remember much about the approach, but I do distinctly remember my first sights of the Spoon. Plunging northeast off the impressive upper snowfield of 11,555 foot Disappointment Peak, the couloir bisected 600 feet of staggering granite in a striking way I had never seen before. After days of high-pressure the snow was stable, and together we leapfrogged through the sustained 45 degree gash and onto the mellower east face snowfield, where we punched through a virgin snowscape to the impressive summit – my first time above 11,000 feet in winter.
From the skiing side of things – well, arcing turns through shin-deep powder on the east face of Disappointment Peak should be on every Teton skier’s bucket list. Dropping into the powder chocked couloir was scary, but after watching my partners dip in without trepidation, I un-jumbled my panties and eased into a rowdy, face-shot decorated descent. Looking back on our tracks from Amphitheater Lake, I knew – beyond a shadow of a doubt – ski mountaineering was my calling. For return to terra-firma we skied the short and sweet Delta Lake Chute into Glacial Gulch, traversed to Burnt Wagon Gulch and eventually the Bradley-Taggart Trailhead – a memorable day indeed.
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Ski mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing and all other forms of mountain recreation are inherently dangerous. Should you decide to attempt anything you read about in this article, you are doing so at your own risk! This article is written to the best possible level of accuracy and detail, but I am only human – information could be presented wrong. Furthermore, conditions in the mountains are subject to change at any time. Ten Thousand Too Far and Brandon Wanthal are not liable for any actions or repercussions acted upon or suffered from the result of this article’s reading.
you already know im jonesing over here!
As am I, though we are suffering from another case of early season high pressure facets… might be stuck in the trees for a while after this next storm!