Sego athlete and former dreaded ski instructor Mark Ortiz has been known to like to get out for some lengthy winter ski objectives. With a more settled snowpack and spring temperatures, and a tandem bike left at the trailhead Mark recently set out to for another bucket list line deep in the Tetons; the West Gunsight Couloir.
Take a ride along with Mark and co., and start planning your next spring mission!
It's hard to know where to start with this one. It's an adventure story, sure. The West Gunsight Couloir is certainly one of the most iconic lines viewed from our side of the Tetons, a geological magnum opus. Doyle has wanted to ski it since he saw it as a kid; I've wanted to ski it since my first year as a liftie in 2011; Joel since he moved here. It's so damn aesthetic. Also, it's pretty far out there. Those two in conjunction make for a mighty fine goal. So there's that. It's also Joel's birthday weekend and he and I have a nice history of objective-based skiing for his birthday--Mount Bannon, 4th of July, the Wedge. This would be another nice notch on the belt there. Lastly, it's ski mountaineering, so the most important condition is stability in the snowpack. We had that. We also had two other factors line up: Joel and Doyle had their work schedules line up accordingly and the weather window looked excellent. So why not give the line a go? The rough plan was to ski up and over Table Mountain, down into Cascade Canyon and spend the night. Ascend Valhalla Canyon and the West Gunsight the following morning and ski the bastard, then boogie down over Jenny Lake to our waiting bicycles and ride off into the sunset. Overall it was some 26 miles and 8000' vertical in 30ish hours. We were fortunate enough to hit just about every snow condition: pow, soft avy debris, frozen avy debris, windboard, corn, slush, lake ice, alpine ice, zipper crust. I think we only missed bottomless facets. It all worked out pretty well, though, with the only downsides being Joel getting old man pains and me forgetting an eating utensil. - Mark Ortiz