Sunday, January 12, 2020

Teton Pass Ski Area open again giving access to backcountry

Above some open water on North Fork Waldron Creek

Gordon Whirry in the Waldron Bowl area

We found these blue and pink tapes very helpful in route finding to the bowl 

It has been a couple of years since the Teton Pass Ski Area closed, putting a large swath of the the Front backcountry out of reach for winter users.
With its reopening a couple of weeks ago the 28 miles of Teton Canyon County Road is now plowed to the area.
When the ski are was closed, the county only plowed as far as the national forest boundary, with the 9 or so miles to the ski area unplowed.
There were a few hearty souls who would ski or sled to the area, but for the vast majority of us this put that area out of reach.
We went out Saturday to enjoy this area again after this long respite.
We skied the familiar North Fork Waldron Creek about a half mile south of the ski area, covering some 4.5 miles into the Waldron Creek bowl below Mount Lockhart, gaining and losing 1,100 feet along the way.
The first mile is on a good, open former logging road.
It disappears from there and it's always a guess and some reckoning to find a direct route to the bowl.
Happily for us, someone has marked a route with blue and pink tape as the road enters the forest and at least as far as the trail descends to the creek.  It eliminated a large amount of guesswork.
However, at the creek bottom we lost the markings and headed up a route we remembered that winds through the trees and crosses creek tributaries.
My memory was quite good and we found a pretty good direct route to the bowl.
It was an overcast day, obscuring the great views of the mountains and their headwalls in this area.
The snow was darn deep and we lost a track at about 1 mile and had to break trail the rest of the way.
I think the snow was as deep as I had ever seen it in my 40 years of skiing in this area.
Being back in this area during the winter absolutely delighted me.
Let's hope the ski area is a great success and the road remains open so I can get into the South Fork, and West Fork as well.
Heck, I'll even buy a lift ticket!

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