Skiing the Radio Tower Couloir on Togwotee Pass
Evan Padua and I left Jackson and headed to Sublette Mountain on Togwotee Pass to make the best of a short weather window that was supposed to close out around 1pm. Our objective was the Radio Tower Couloir – an 800 ft couloir an hour skin from the road. We pulled off at the pullout at the top of the pass and quickly started skinning to stay warm in miserably cold temps that hovered around 0.
We skinned up the left side of the apron before transitioning to crampons below the couloir. The snow was quite soft and the bootpacking was difficult. As we wallowed up the couloir the wind pounded us from above adding to the cold. At each safe zone, Evan and I traded off the chore of breaking trail. Finally Evan wallowed through the last steep bit at the top of the couloir and gained the notch at the top. We removed our crampons and prepared for our descent.
From the top of the couloir we could see our skin track meandering through the trees. It zigzagged more than it needed to so we planned a more direct exit following a small creek back to the road. We put on our skis and snowboard and after a bit of jumping around at the top of the couloir we got a 6 inch windslab to release. We watched it pour down the couloir and I wondered if we hadn’t made a poor decision climbing up the couloir. (In retrospect, we definitely had made a poor decision. The snow was new and the couloir was actively loading.)
The left over bed surface was still soft and we made enjoyable turns down the 35-40 degree couloir. Our sluff chased us down the couloir as we leapfrogged down the 800 foot line to the apron. We made powder turns down the apron next to the slide debris and regrouped in the large meadow below the butte. A snow machine track allowed us to pole out to the creek and eventually back to the road as the clouds moved in.
Four hours after we left the Subaru we were back – cranking the heat all the way back to Jackson.
The South Sublette Mountain Couloir aka the Radio Tower Couloir at Togwotee Pass was skied on January 20, 2011.
Here is another Radio Tower Couloir Trip Report from Steve Romeo’s TetonAT.com.