December 11, 2012

West Elk Project Finds Snow in the Tetons


With Colorado going through (another) dry early season, the West Elk Project boys were getting antsy. Grand Targhee Resort, Wyoming, on the other hand, had received two feet in late November and were forecasted to receive two more.  So after the workday ended on December 2nd, Will and Ed Dujardin, Tom Runcie, and Trent Bona loaded the truck and started the eleven hour drive, pulling into a rainy Driggs, Idaho at 4:30 am.  We crashed on the floor at the CAST workshop, where the touring bindings invented by Lars Chickering-Ayers are being built and tested.  After three hours of sleep, we drove up to Grand Targhee, not knowing whether to expect rain or the snow we had driven so far for.

Will, Ed, and Tom heading out at Grand Targhee.

Will, Ed, and Tom heading out at Grand Targhee.

Our fears were put to rest as soon as we dropped in for our first run.  Indeed it was wet.  The rain changed to snow only 200 feet below Targhee’s lowest lift.  However, it was DEEP.  And it was ours.  For reasons unknown to us, Targhee was relatively empty.  By the afternoon, it had cleared out altogether.  Despite an extreme lack of sleep, we skied straight through lunch until the lifts closed at 4:00.

We spent the majority of our time on the Peaked Mountain ridge off of the Sacajawea lift.  Peaked ridge provides riders with a multitude of mini golf lines that face north-west and hold the best snow.  It was also one of the only places with decent visibility.  Riders can simply ski down to the Das Boat section, or they can hike fifteen minutes up the ridge to the Toilet Bowl section of Peaked Ridge, where we found our favorite lines of the trip.  After a few cold Rainiers at the Trap Bar, we reloaded the truck and descended into Teton Valley to rest up.

Teton Pass has more than a couple pillow stashes.

Teton Pass has more than a couple pillow stashes. Will found one.

Will and Tom Runcie scouting lines by Toilet Bowl at Grand Targhee.

Will and Tom scouting lines by Toilet Bowl at Grand Targhee.

The next day, we teamed up with the CAST crew to explore the Glory area on Teton Pass.  The Glory bootpack starts off the road at the top of the pass. After about a 45 minute hike, we found ourselves on top of nearly 2000 feet of creamy carve-able powder.  After a quick lap where we saw the potential of the area, we shuttled back to the top of the pass to do it again.  We found cliffs, chutes, open faces, and pillows that were astoundingly filled in despite it being very early December.

Teton Pass is like a resort in itself.  We saw roughly the same amount of people hiking and touring on the pass as we had the day before at Grand Targhee Resort.  The area of accessible terrain is enormous.  After two awesome laps we returned to Teton Valley, but not before stopping at the Grand Teton Brewery in Victor, one of multiple delicious breweries in the area.

Tom catches some air at Grand Targhee.

Tom catches some air at Grand Targhee.

We returned to Grand Targhee for what was supposed to be our final day.  The resort had received eight inches since our first day, and it was snowing again.  If our first day was relatively empty, Wednesday was desolate.  Again, the mountain lived up to it’s nickname, “Grand Foggy.”  This time, we explored beyond Peaked to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly as well as the Football Fields off of Dream Catcher lift.  With the snow still falling, we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave the Tetons, so we decided to stay another night.

Will Dujardin finding some air in Das Boat at Grand Targhee.

Will in Das Boat at Grand Targhee.

When we returned to town that evening, we were invited to take part in a trampoline gymnastics class put on every Wednesday at the Driggs Community Center. We spent the first thirty minutes failing miserably at gymnastics basics such as tumbling and handstands.  The second half of the class consisted of jumping on trampolines, where we practiced old tricks and learned new ones.

We hadn’t seen the sun the entire time we had been in Wydaho.  The next morning, we woke up at four thirty in order to hopefully catch the sunrise on the pass.  We met up with some of the CAST crew as well as CB native Pip Hunt and Australian Nat Segal.  The weather was relatively clear when we started.  However, about half-way up the bootpack, the next wave of the storm rolled in.  It was still socked in when the entire crew made it up, so we started the descent.  After the first pitch, however, the sun popped for five glorious minutes.  The rest of the run was skied to the constant sound of hooting and hollering down to the road.

What else do you need in life? At the CAST office/shop.

What else do you need in life? At the CAST office/shop.

After saying our goodbyes, and with huckleberry milkshakes in hand, we packed up the car and returned south, knowing that we will return before too long.

Check out our edit from the trip!

Big Thanks to Trent Bona Photography for the photos!
Many thanks to Grand Targhee and Strafe Outerwear for helping make the trip happen!

About the Author

1. Ed Dujardin
After moving out west for college, Ed took summer school so he could spend winters in Crested Butte. These days, he coaches the Western State Colorado University Freeride Team, and spends as much time as he can fishing the incredible rivers of the area.