Sub-Four Hours in the Four Hour Couloir (+ recon photos) – Shadow Peak/Nez Perce, Grand Teton N.P. (12.16.22)

On December 16th I got out for my first steep ski of 2022/23 in the ever-popular Four Hour Couloir on Shadow Peak. Not surprisingly it was well hacked by at least three parties, but the snow was soft enough for an enjoyable and quick morning lap before heading off to Utah for Christmas break. This was my third time skiing the Four Hour. Recon photos of the Sliver Couloir included.

Sitting here in Los Angeles staring over the Pacific Ocean, I have really enjoyed the peaceful mornings and bottomless coffee to edit landscape photos. I find landscapes cry for more time and detail than action shots, where depth, foreground, framing and tasteful cropping play a large role in the final product. Alas was born this “trip report” – really an excuse to share the landscape photos I took while skiing in Grand Teton National Park last Friday, since the line I skied is well documented on the World Wide Web, and hardly special. Hopefully park regulars might find use in recent photos of the Sliver Couloir and Shadow Peak as well.

The Four Hour Couloir on Shadow Peak has grown in popularity over the last few seasons, in line with Turkey Chute, Chute The Moon and the Sliver Couloir for the Teton’s most tracked steep ski descent. I had a slim morning window to stretch the legs before driving down to Utah for some ice climbing, and a trip to Los Angeles to see the folks. I hit the trailhead at a lackadaisical 9:00AM, and was back to the van around 12:30, forgoing a care-free powder ski on Shadow’s east aspect for the steeper, thinner and heavier tracked Four Hour Couloir. Why you ask? Well, even in marginal conditions, the Four Hour is a line of incredible geological uniqueness – and I was really craving some jump turns. Every time I have skied it, from thin and icy to fat and untracked, I have been blown away by the craggy walls that line the 2,000 foot, forty degree tube-like feature all the way into Avalanche Canyon below.

Along the way I took a few recon pictures of the Sliver Couloir on Nez Perce and the East Ridge of Shadow Peak. Overall, coverage in the Teton high-country appears above average for December, though still needs support. The large boulder crowning the Sliver, and the rock islands at the bottom, remain uncovered, and I scratched a half dozen rocks in the Four Hour. For those who care, here’s some pictures. Cheers!

NOTE ON AVALANCHE CANYON ICE CLIMBING: I looked hard for any signs of climbable ice in Avalanche Canyon, but saw nothing besides the moderate curtain that sits directly below the “Elevens” on Mount Wister’s eastern shoulder. It’s also no surprise the Elevens are nowhere close to skiable condition. There’s supposed to be some worthwhile WI4 pillar that forms just east of the southeast avalanche path on Shadow Peak, but I couldn’t find it!

The Southeast Face of Mount Owen through the clouds
The northeast aspect of Shadow Peak from the skier summit of Shadow Peak
The Sliver Couloir on Nez Perce
Fun times in the Four Hour Couloir!

Ten Thousand Too Far is generously supported by Icelantic Skis from Golden Colorado, Barrels & Bins Natural Market in Driggs Idaho, Range Meal Bars from Bozeman Montana and Black Diamond Equipment. Give these guys some business – who doesn’t need great skis, gear and wholesome food?

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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.

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