Laying Low – North Couloir of Leek’s Peak (10,333′) – GTNP, WY (04.16.23)

On Sunday April 16th I reconnected with Reed Finlay for an interesting powder redemption tick in Colter Canyon, the surprisingly exciting North Couloir of Leek’s Peak.

After beating my head against the wall trying to nab steep objectives in marginal conditions for the past two weeks, it was a relief to set sail for mellower seas on Sunday. Leek’s Peak, also known as Peak 10,333, was the directive. Reed and I had tried this line together last season but found the entry bullet sastrugi, and I believe Reed had attempted twice before that. Today all went according to plan, about as efficient as they come. Travel across Jackson Lake from Colter Bay was a breeze, and with a hard re-freeze the moderate east facing slopes of Leek’s provided the perfect interface for ski-crampon’ing. We reached “our summit” via the NE ridge in a laissez-faire 3.5-ish hours and were pleased to find the couloir dressed in a veil of new snow, but not too much. I say “our summit” because we stopped at ~9,800 feet, at first entry into the couloir, to respect the voluntary Bighorn Sheep closure zone surrounding Ranger Peak. Everything about the approach represented peace – bluebird skies, easy conversation, stretching views, warm temps and, perhaps the main attraction of North Teton skiing, no other people.

Peak 10,686 (left) and Leek’s Peak (right center) from the east.

For a peak that appears so benign, amidst terrain that is so significantly dwarfed by Mount Moran and company, this little north facing shot packs quite the punch. From the ridge it’s a 2,000 foot run to Colter Canyon below, with a narrow 500 foot upper couloir that maintains an average slope of 44 degrees. Carefree, supportable, cuff-deep cowboy powder was the name of the game, hoots and hollers all the way to an early lakeshore lunch – six casual hours car-to-car.

Reed skiing the upper bowl above the North Couloir of Leek’s Peak
North provides.

Once again, the North Tetons provide. If only Colter Bay wasn’t a two-plus hour commute from my door, I’d ski out here a whole lot more. The vast array of untracked lines adorning the canyons north of Mount Moran would make any ski mountaineer’s head spin – couloirs on couloirs on couloirs, all unnamed, on all unnamed peaks. Missions like these help remind me there’s more to spring skiing than widdling down a tick list. Big views, big smiles and big powder on Leek’s today.

Shades of February

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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