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Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

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Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

Postby rocky_mt_high » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:45 pm

Considering a east-west multi-day March traverse of the Tetons. Going up Death Canyon, summitting Fox Creek Pass, then descending Fox Creek to Victor.

Is anyone familiar with this route (particularly the pass) in winter? How avalanche prone is it? I plan on bringing snowshoes and a light duty pair of crampons and ice axe. If I need more extensive mountaineering gear than that to get over the pass then I won't bother.

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Re: Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

Postby clemsonmtneer » Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:55 am

That sounds awesome, but unfortunately Death Canyon crosses some major avalanche paths, and as far as I know is generally avoided during the winter months for this reason. It's possible you could have stable snow in March in the Tetons, but even so, conditions can change quickly over a multi-day period... would probably be safer later in the spring. I've got a book somewhere on backcountry skiing and ski touring in the Tetons, I'll see if I can find any route info about it in there. I've never been all the way up to Fox Creek Pass, but I don't think the route is particularly technical... mostly a gradual elevation gain.

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Re: Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

Postby rocky_mt_high » Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:01 pm

Good to know. Looking at the topo it looked pretty slide-prone but I wanted to check. Any suggestions for canyons in the Tetons that aren't big avy risks? I've been up a number during the summer and they all seemed like they'd be slide-prone in winter. I'm probably better off just waiting for the snowpack to consolidate later in the season.

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Re: Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

Postby clemsonmtneer » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:27 pm

Yeah it's such a steep mountain range that most of the major canyons cross slide paths. Plenty of good short winter hikes, such as Phelps Lake, Taggert/Bradley Lakes, and Colter Bay. You could probably do a pretty cool hike following the Valley Trail from Teton Village up to Jenny Lake... long day with the road to Jenny Lake closed, but with no significant elevation gain and minimal avalanche danger. If you're good at recognizing/avoiding avalanche slopes, can hike up "25 Short" from Taggart Lake (named for being 25 ft short of 10,000 ft), though this is more of a backcountry skiing destination rather than snowshoeing/hiking, so you'd be having to do a lot of trail breaking if on snowshoes, and for a 3,500 ft elevation gain.

I'd imagine there are some good tours on the west side of the Tetons near Targhee as well. You may want to check with Teton Mountaineering on conditions and suggestions while you're in town. Regardless, it's a spectacular area, especially in the winter, and you'll have a good time wherever you hike.

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Re: Fox Creek Pass (Tetons) during winter

Postby Scott P » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:01 pm

Yeah it's such a steep mountain range that most of the major canyons cross slide paths.


Agreed. All drainages are very avalanche prone and you have to hit them in stable conditions (conditions were stable when I was there in December 2001, but it was a dry spell; but usually conditions can be risky). If you can hit it during stable conditions, go for it, but it's hard to plan much in advance for such conditions.

One possibilty in the area that would perhaps be a bit safer might be Jackson Peak:

http://www.summitpost.org/jackson-peak-in-gros-ventre-range/154625

Also, even if you don't go high, visiting the Tetons in winter is spectacular, even if you are just snowshoeing/skiing near the base.
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