Words by: Ben Hoiness
This past winter me and a few good buddies were able to connect the dots on a line that I have been looking at since I first visited the Tetons 7 years ago. I remember climbing to the top of Shadow peak with intentions of skiing the classic Sliver Couloir and noticing a line in a pair of hanging snowfields to the left that was above my pay grade at the time but was intriguing none the less. That day, my buddy broke his binding and we descended without skiing the sliver or really anything but I gained a lot of psych for the magical ski terrain in GTNP. This line (pictured below) is the SE face of Nez Perce.
Our first attempt was at the tail end of a pro longed high pressure that was slowly closing out. We wanted to try and climb the route to better evaluate the snow and to see if we would be able to climb the difficulties that we would rap on the way down. Clouds and snow moved in and we climbed higher on the face, we found ourselves enjoying the climbing and the intrigue of coming back but as the storm pulsed on and the avalanche conditions began to rise we retreated. We bailed from about 3/4 height on the face and we were unsure if climbing the route was the best option. This storm encompassed the month of February in historic Teton fashion dropping around10ft of snow and providing some all time pow skiing. We enjoyed the snow but knew we’d be back.
After the storm settled we returned on a bitterly cold clear day with the plan to ski the line from the top of Nez Perce down. Our idea was to ski the upper Spooky Face, an incredible Newcomb line, and to then rap onto the SE face. We climbed our way up the North face of Nez Perce in all of our layers picking our way through the wind swept snow and rock. After being cold in the shade all day we finally popped up on the summit in the sunshine and basked in its gift of warmth.
We worked our way off the summit and made our way to the top of the Spooky Face. Conditions were perfect, steep chalky snow with a lot of sluff but manageable. The 3 of us worked our way down the face and into the notch separating the Spooky from the SE Face.
We pounded a few pins an rapped south and onto the sunlit SE face. The skiing on the face was as good as you could ever ask for in its setting, cold, dry and stable boot top powder. The line overhangs several large cliffs so we kept our hackles high but there’s no doubt we’re enjoyed the incredible position and wonderful skiing in the evening light.
Linking together these snow patches together with good buddies was one of the best missions this winter. Moving through these mountains on skis is truly incredible and it will be a place I frequent for the rest of my life.
Gear that helped make it happen:
Salomon QST 106, Salomon MTN Binding, Salomon S/Lab MTN Boot, Salomon MTN Lab Helmet, Salomon S/Max Goggle, Salomon MTN Carbon S3 Pole