Albright, Static and Buck is the classic, but I think this one might be more logical, at least for skiing. A ~7000 vertical foot day, somewhere in the realm of 10-13 miles, on the three peaks that crown the Stuart Draw drainage – one of the best this season.
Many summers ago I did an on-foot traverse of Buck Mountain, Static Peak and Albright Peak. Since then, I’ve envisioned replicating the traverse on skis. I had no intention of traversing today, but rather trying my hand at the devilishly steep North Face of Static Peak (I actually down-climbed a few body lengths into the face and measured the slope angle at 62 degrees – yikes!). Zoom lens recon confirmed the upper portion of the line was filled in, but left the bottom cliff-band a mystery. Well, turns out some sort of avalanche scraped the lower cliff crux dry, a fact I didn’t discover until standing atop Static Peak at 7:30AM on a smoky Sunday late May morning, where the full line can be assessed from a little ways down the Northwest Ridge. Suddenly my itinerary was wiped clean, and after a three hour and ten minute summit from Death Canyon I was feeling lubricated, energized and eager for adventure. While I usually dread wildfire smoke, these Canadian burn clouds played to my advantage, keeping air temperatures colder than expected for a full sun forecast. Staring at Buck Mountain across the way, one of the classic corn descents in the range, watching the sunrise cast early morning hues of bright yellow on the brilliantly exposed 50 degree headwall, I knew I was skiing more than one peak this day.
Instead of boring you with minutia from lines previously documented on 10K2Far, I’ll cut to the chase with splits. I dipped into Static at 8:30AM and skied three quarters of the East Face in firm corn conditions, hooking north on the low ramp that provides direct access to Timberline Lake, and skated to the access couloir for the East Face of Buck Mountain. From here, I cached nearly everything in my pack and climbed to the summit of Buck by 9:30AM. I enjoyed perfect corn for my fourth ski descent of Buck, laying my ass out with a wide grin over the mega exposure skier’s right. Realizing I had extra time on my hands a la’ Canadian smog, I decided to have a gander at the rocky West Ridge of Peak 10,696. With no beta on the eloping ridge I shot from the hip, skirting an initial steep step by climbing an access snow ramp on the north side. The ridge itself was a mostly third and fourth class, occasionally loose, boulder scramble interspersed with snow. The crux was a short 12 foot step of vertical rock, maybe 5.5, that I was able to throw my pack and skis over to make the climbing a little easier – thankfully, there were ample sturdy jugs. I dropped into the East Face of Peak 10,696 at 10:30AM, enjoying slightly sticky corn on an extremely underrated Teton face, before diving right into the new-to-me Upper South Couloir, which beams directly into Stuart Draw with 1,000 feet of moderate jump turns.
The “Stuart Draw Triple” ball-parked at 11-13 miles and 7,000-ish vertical feet, and I was back the car a few minutes under eight hours – at least an hour of summit stoppage time included. For three prominent peaks and three worthy ski descents, I’m not sure there is a more convenient and logical traverse in Grand Teton National Park. One of the other particularly great things about this traverse is, so long as the party is speedy, great corn can be enjoyed on every peak! Static catches first sun and has a low enough elevation to corn early, Buck tends to take a pinch longer to thaw and the Upper South Couloir of 10,696 won’t see sun till just before noon (in May at least).
I really hope somebody repeats this loop – I think it’s a tier one GTNP late-spring classic. Today was just another one of those timeless “too good to stop skiing” days in the park, and with the snowpack above 9,000 feet holding strong, like really strong, my excitement is higher than ever for May-June ski adventures.
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?
Errors? Typos? Leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com
If you would like to support Ten Thousand Too Far, consider subscribing below and/or leaving a donation here. The hours spent writing these blogs is fueled solely and happily by passion, but if you use this site to plan or inspire your own epic adventure, consider kicking in. A couple bucks goes a long way in the cold world of adventure blogging. I also love to hear your thoughts, so don’t leave without dropping a comment! Thanks for the love.
Follow my photography at @brandon.wanthal.photography
enter your email to subscribe
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.
Leave a Reply