I set out for The Jaw. The Jaw tops out at
11,400 feet at the head of hanging canyon. The ascent is just over 4,500 feet. I had been to the summit once before, also a ski descent, on May 5, 2002. I know well from summer hikes, climbs, and visits to the Hanging Canyon Lake of the Crags. The lake sits near 9,600 feet and is surrounded by spires, peaks, crags, and pinnacles hidden in the Hanging canyon.
|Skin track above Jenny Lake headed into Hanging Canyon|
Driving from home, I noticed blotches of wet road the further north I traveled. The temperature outside was 28 degrees. Arriving, I was surprised and happy to find myself the only patron there. I geared up and the weather was cooperating nicely and showing signs of sun. I turned and jumped up on the snow bank and skinned over to the bridge. The bridge showed a trace of new snow and confirmed no one had been across yet. With good snow coverage, I quickly traversed up and into
. A trace of new snow nicely outlined the skin track and views of Hanging Canyon were amazing. Jenny Lake ’s ice was breaking up and it looked like the surface had craters or a glass pane shot full of bullet holes. I skinned uphill at a steady rate so I could be skiing before any weather or warm-up may occur. The forecast was for a 30-40% chance of precipitation. I took my La Sportiva race skis anticipating fast travel conditions. The skis were fast on the approach. I took a break at the entrance to the hanging canyon to eat and hydrate a bit more. The weather was holding and I had a great view of The Jaw, Jenny Lake Lake of the Crags, and . Jenny Lake
|Final steps to summit of The Jaw|
Turning for the summit, the next section was great as I skied across the smooth frozen lakes. Striding, poling, and gliding, I was eyeballing the summit and the final
1,800 feet to the top. After another 1,000 vertical feet of skinning I transitioned to a boot pack. The route took you straight up the east face through some small cliffs and rock features. As I approached the steepest section the clouds came in quickly and enveloped me.
|The Grand Teton|
I slowed assuming they would move on or out and eventually they did. The clouds soon became the show to watch as they displayed magical properties. I arrived at the summit amongst floating and hanging clouds back lit by the sun. I soaked up the views of the clouds in motion, the
Grand Teton, and the interior range. I stood on the summit, watching the clouds dance above and below. I clicked in my skis ready for my own dance down the mountain.
|Skiing down |
|Lake of the Crags|
|Mt. Woodring's South face, on right, as seen from the top of The Jaw|
I spotted the summit of Mt.Woodring from The Jaw and it looked to have good coverage and a nice ski decent. I have been to the summit of
twice, and skied the south face once. Mt. Woodring has many options for ski lines, peaks, and couloirs with Paintbrush Canyon at the head. I sipped the last bit of coffee in the car and set out under almost complete gray skies. The initial few miles of the approach is low elevation and heavily forested. I skinned undulating snow along Mt. Woodring to the bridge crossing. I made haste to get out of the woods and into String Lake where the vistas would improve if the weather held. The trees started to spread out and I entered the canyon. Ski lines were now visible with more options up canyon and the gray skies held their ground. However, ski conditions improved as I gained elevation. The snow was firm and smooth and travel was easy. I, again, had chosen to use a light race set up – the La Sportiva race skis. Further up canyon, old avalanche debris had run from all aspects. Paintbrush Canyon
I turned the corner and attained the south face of
. I was Mt. Woodring 2,200 feet directly below the summit. The weather was holding up well and glimpses of sunlight on distant peaks were promising.
However, I had begun to enjoy the black and white landscape and couldn’t help but think of Ansel Adams and his photographs of
Yosemite and the High Sierra. Ansel Adams’ first solo museum exhibition was at the Smithsonian Institution and featured pictures of the High Sierra. A review from the Washington Post stated, “His photographs are like portraits of the giant peaks, which seem to be inhabited by mythical gods.”
I skinned up the south face for another
1,200 feet before transitioning to crampons and an ice axe for the summit climb. The views from the top were spectacular, highlighting the black and white contrasts of the mountains, snow, shadow, and sun.
|Looking down fron the summit of Mt. Woodring across Paintbrush Canyon and the Tetons|
There were a few options for ski descents from the summit. I quickly decided to go with the south face, the way I ascended. I took in the sights, slipped into my bindings, and skied off the summit towards Paintbrush canyon. The ski descent was approximately
4,700 feet of firm smooth conditions at the higher elevations, good corn skiing mid canyon, and heavier snow heading out.
|Steep section near top|