Dike Snowfield & Peak 11,751′ (East Prong SE Face) – A Link-Up – GTNP, WY (03.18.23)

On Saturday I enjoyed a Garnet Canyon/Glacial Gulch link-up, skiing the Dike Snowfield to Teton Glacier, climbing to the Tallboy Col and eventually skiing the rarely descended SE face of Peak 11,751 (East summit of the East Prong). Both descents were personal firsts, a great day in the hills.

Life threw lemons just in time for our first real bout of 2023 high pressure. 13 straight days of work – well, at least my wallet will be happy. However, with my Saturday shift ending at 8:30AM, I was able to sneak out for a mid-day tour in Grand Teton National Park. The plan was to catch up with Chris Hackbarth and partner Amy for a powder lap in the Dike Snowfield. Afterwards, I would diverge for Grand Teton North Face photo-reconnaissance and a solo ski in Glacial Gulch. After working double-time for six days I was determined to stretch my legs to the fullest, even if alpine starts were off the table.

Mount Wister looking charming, as ever

I left Bradley-Taggart TH fueled by a Sky High Apple Butter Muffin and a tall cup o’ joe, maintaining a sub-two-hour pace to the Meadows, quickly overlapping Chris and Amy. Father sun was already bearing down with spring ferocity, and we all shed major electrolytes on the unrelenting solar slog up Spaulding Glacier. After a short lunch break at the JHMG high camp we forged on, beneath Teepee Glacier to the top of the Dike Snowfield (~11,380′), where we found a wind scoured entrance and a half-dozen or more tracks in the couloir. Four tracks coming off the Teepee Col indicated at least two parties of successful GT ski descents – tis’ the season!

Side-slipping into the Dike Snowfield

The side slip into the Dike Snowfield was the crux – a complimentary base grind – but after 100-some feet we reached snow line. The upper third of the couloir was wind-buffed mank, but quickly relented to manageable consistency on the sheltered southern wall. We were able to find fresh turns the whole way down, and enjoyed many hoots and hollers in this classic Teton moderate. This was my first Dike Snowfield descent, and I’ll certainly be returning for more.

Amy enjoying reasonable conditions in the Dike Snowfield

Dike Snowfield from below

I tried egging Chris and Amy for a journey up Teton Glacier, but ended up rolling solo as planned. I popped over the convoluted moraines of the lower glacier and skinned up canyon to the base of the Koven Couloir, where I could scout the rowdy and intriguing fare on the Grand Teton’s North Face. To my bewilderment and excitement, there were a pair of tracks in the Hossack-McGowan Couloir. The fringy line looked daring, exposed and bold, and I enjoyed picturing the two skiers working their way down the matrix of intermittent snowfields that provides the only realistic ski descent on the Grand’s 3,000 foot North Face. After gathering my share of photos I skied back down-glaicer for a quirky line I’ve considered for years, the Southeast Face of Peak 11,751′.

Friend’s tracks in the Hossack-McGowan Couloir!

I give two names for this line because the peak above the descent is unnamed on modern topos. Perhaps it is best characterized as the large, “lower angle” but generously exposed southeast face above the traditional approach for the Tallboy Couloir, highly visible from the Bradley-Taggart trailhead, on the Owen-Teewinot Crest. To gain the skier’s summit, I climbed to the Tallboy Col and forked west along a rocky, generally non-technical but exposed 4th class ridge. The crux was clipping into my skis on a snow fin above no-fall exposure on either side. I began the descent with 20 feet of side slipping on a 50 degree icy ridge before traversing east into mellower terrain. Despite the littany of cliffs that stud the face, 40 degree hop turns in chalky powder kept the mood light. Weaving my way through many rock islands provided a true sense of adventure, even though the slope angle hardly registers on the GTNP Richter. About halfway down the snow turned to wind scraped ice, and I was forced into East Coast mode. In early spring corn or fresh powder, 11,751′ would be a worthy objective for people seeking mellower terrain in Glacial Gulch, or as a consolation prize if the Tallboy Couloir was distasteful, loaded, or just too scary!

Open turns on the SE Face of Peak 11,751′ – the East Prong lurks high left.

7,500 feet in the bank, and still smiling, on the Owen-Teewinot Crest

revisiting my belay anchors for the Tallboy
… still welded!

Back at the car by dusk – a very enjoyable eight hour day in the mountains, totaling some 7,500-ish feet of vertical and two worthy ski lines. After prioritizing ice climbing all winter and only logging a handful of ski days between 3K-5K vertical, I am feeling surprisingly fit heading into the spring season. A little bit of freeze-thaw and a shift in work-life balance is all I’ll need to drop the tools for good and join team two-plank. Plus, if there’s any winter climber freaks out there still reading, there is NO ICE AT ALL on any of the established Grand Teton North Face climbing routes (No Name, Molar Tooth (incl. North), H-M, Route Canal) – the only one I didn’t check was Shea’s.

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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

3 thoughts on “Dike Snowfield & Peak 11,751′ (East Prong SE Face) – A Link-Up – GTNP, WY (03.18.23)

Add yours

  1. I don’t see a boot pack on the HM. So I assume they went top down. Have you heard of other groups skiing it this way?


    1. With a line as rarely descended as the HM, I don’t think there is a consensus way to do it. This party had a tremendous amount of experience, at least a decade of high level and professional skiing in the Tetons – very comfortable in steep terrain on their skis, and at least one member of the team had descended before – also, presumably, with extensive beta from past descentionists. IMO, climbing it ground-up would be the preferred style, both for the classic N Face GT mixed climbing and the ability to scout anchors, snow quality, etc. for descent. I think descending top-down without strong knowledge of the route would be… ill advised? But I guess the downside of climbing it directly would be the heavier packs, rack, rope and tech gear required, along with earlier start, and higher likelihood of taking too long? Personally, I’m a ground up kind of guy – if only for the peace of mind.



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