The Nugget

A Southeast shot off of Cloudveil Dome, across canyon from the very infamous 25 Short, I have taken photos of this line far too many to count. It is a line that I and everybody knows goes through but required a rappel. From afar I always thought a 30m rope would do but after doing research was way off.

We woke up and left the house around 7:30am after we established that we would meet at 7:00am the night before. My mistake on this as I set my alarm for 7:00am instead of 6:00am the night prior (not sure what I was thinking there), as I like to have an hour before leaving. After this great start to the day already because of a stupid mistake I found myself rushed out the door throwing my stuff into the truck. We arrived to the parking lot at 8:30am to a not-so-packed parking lot which is not normal for this year, but very happy to see crowds are dissipating around here. (Call me a jaded local if you want, I don't care.)

After a couple of hours we made it to the first full look of the Middle Teton around 11:00am. Looking at the Middle then looking back from where we came from painted two very different stories - cloudy, dark, uninviting versus up canyon it was bluebird, slightly breezy and sun with patchy clouds. Temperatures felt to be around teens but quickly felt like mid-20s when the sun poked through.

On our way up to the north side access of Cloudveil Dome we could hear crashing of some kind. Twice we saw sizeable sluffs come off the Grand and the Middle. The sluff off the Grand came right through the Ford-Stettner. The second came thirty minutes later on the south aspect of the Middle through the Chouinard Couloir.

We made our way up the north side of Cloudveil Dome where we would eventually hit the ridge line and drop into the SE of Cloudveil. The snow on the way up was variable, but the majority of it was 5" of new snow and wind swept. The snow was surprisingly well bonded and as the north aspects stay colder, the snow was nice and powdery. We made it to a point skinning but decided to switch to booting. We threw our crampons on and started booting up the last pitch. The snow was waist deep in some sections and others were knee deep. We floated up the last pitch in much quicker time than it took us to get to the last pitch.

We got to the top of ridge, let out a "yeehaw", and checked the watch; 2:00pm. As we looked down the line we were scheduled to ski on a South aspect, we then would look back at what we climbed up and compared the two. What we climbed up was powdery goodness and what we were to ski was sun-pow at best. Safety wise we decided that both were about the same in safety. The temperatures up high surprisingly, and I confirmed this later, stayed in the teens all day. We both were okay passing on good snow for the objective, which we would regret a little later.

Dropping into the Nugget my first 2 turns were total shit. It was like riding a cheese grater and I could barely get an edge in. This is where my instant regret set in, 'we could be skiing pow right now' but I was not about to climb back out. Riding further down I stopped at a safe spot, waited for my buddy then we made our way hard left to the remaining 3/4 of the couloir. We lucked out as this next section was creamy goodness! And to be honest felt safer than riding the wind affected north aspect we climbed up. The slope was variable in some parts as you had to ski over some old avy debris, but overall it was great Spring riding.

We made it all of the way down and were having trouble finding the rap station for how/why the couloir got it's name, as the rock you rappel over looks like a nugget. My buddy saw it on the right side, higher up than we expected it to be. The rappel station was on a pretty steep slope and would be tight for more than just the two of us.

Fortunately, we did our research and did not just bring my 30m rope but brought a 45m as well. It would have been nice to have a true 70m single rope but our two half ropes worked just fine and we made it down to the bottom of the nugget rap fairly easily. I think a 70m single rope would have placed us on flat ground though instead of a slope. Also, my buddy rappelled it fully strapped into his board. I did it one foot in and one out. We both agree it was probably easier to have one foot out as it is kind of an awkward rappel and ice is covering a majority of the bottom section.

Collecting our ropes, looking back up we were both pretty high on what we had done. We party skied the remaining apron and down to the bottom of canyon where we switched over to skins and walked out. 10 hours all in we made it back to the parking lot and headed home. It was a longer day than I expected but in retrospect it is 5000' of vert.

Regardless, we were both stoked on the day!

You Might Also Like