Sailing Mission To Ski a Teton Classic

Like most of the best trips, it started with a simple message.

This was no small mission, we were attempting to ski one of the ’50 Classic Ski Descents of North America’ – The Skillet.

The crew of this mission consisted of Chris Burton, the Jackson Hole local that had the dream for this line

Katie Burton, Chris’s sister, always down for an adventure.

Benjamin Flook, Montana local coming down to ski the line of a lifetime

And me, the photographer. Also making the trek down from Montana

After a month of keeping an eye on the weather we finally found our window and it was time to pack up.

Getting There

Two hours into packing I felt pretty good about having everything. It seems like you never feel like you have everything on these big missions, but it was time to start driving.

Ben and I had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us and we wasted no time in it to get over to Jackson, WY as soon as possible so we could get some sleep in before the big day.

As we got into Teton National Park we could start to see our line, and that is when the reality of the whole thing set in…

The Skillet Glacier

We were going to be skiing that

The Approach

Chris looking off at Mt. Moran

Since we were going to be skiing this line in June it was warm enough to boat across Jackson lake and hike from pretty much the base.

The boat of choice was a sail boat

Chris and Katie getting the boat ready

This was Ben and I’s first experience on a sail boat and a pretty rad one at that. But it defiantly took some getting used to coming from a state with just mountains.

With the wind pushing us along and Mt. Moran ahead we took this time to relax and mentally prepare for the long night ahead.

It only took right around two hours for us to arrive at the beach right were we would start hiking.

From there all we had to do was pack our bags and eat dinner before we began the long hike.

The sunset was to die for

The Hike

This hike was tough from the start, with a 9:30 pm start we hoped to summit right at sunrise just in time for the snow to soften a bit for the ski down.

That was the plan at least. After traversing for an hour to get around a cliff, then walking up a boulder field with bus size boulders in the dark we finally took a moment to reassess the situation and think about the reasonability of what’s ahead.

At 2:15 in the morning, not being able to find a way around the next boulder in the dark and being behind schedule to hike up in reasonable snow we made the hard decision to call it a night on the semi-flat boulder we were on. We didn’t pack sleeping bags so we just put on all the layers we could and found a comfy spot on the rock.

It’s never fun to have to make the call to turn around. But in some situations it really does save a life. The snow would have been too warm while we hiked up, on top of that the boulder field of an approach before the glacier was taking far too long to navigate safely in the dark which only made the situation worse.

On the bright side, we did get to wake up to a stunning and very unique sunrise with Jackson lake below us.

And we didn’t let the trip be a total defeat. We managed to find a couple large snow patches around for us to take a shred on and get our June turns checked off.

And just like that it was time to head back down to the boat.

The crew ready to start the down hike

Heading back

The down hike was significantly better being able to see and now knowing how to get around the massive cliff below.

And luckily it wasn’t very eventful either. We just trudged right the way down

Seeing the boat on the shore line after hours of hiking was one of the best feeling ever

We took no rush to set sail after getting packed up.

The End

All in all I would and probably will do it all again, all except the not making it up part.

Here’s to next years attempt 🤞

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