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North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton, Black Ice Couloir, Winter Ascent

Grand Teton, Black Ice Couloir, Winter Ascent. The Lowes — Dave, George, Greg, and Jeff — made a semi-successful winter ascent of the Black Ice Couloir-West Face combination on the Grand Teton. In two days of poor weather from Beaver Creek they reached the Exum guide hut on the Lower Saddle. The next morning was perfectly clear, but the entire west side of the Teton range above 11,000 feet was covered with heavy rime; no rock showed, not even on the west face of the Exum ridge. They followed the Valhalla traverse to its junction with the Black Ice Couloir. From there the party climbed up and onto the second ramp until 100 feet east of the bottom of the third section of the couloir. Moving right over difficult rock, they gained this third section of the couloir where their first bivouac was two pitches above. The second day the pitches in the couloir were difficult since the snow had not covered the very brittle ice. The weather turned and by evening it was snowing. The second bivouac was just below the steep rock of the west face with two pitches already fixed on the rock above. The third day the storm was upon them and after reaching the large ledge half way up the steep rock, the party decided on a traverse over to the Upper Saddle, involving some additional steep ice pitches. Descent to the Lower Saddle was made in a howling blizzard as was the descent to the car the next day. This venture into winter ice climbing led to two conclusions which might be useful for the next party: 1) do not rely completely on Salewa tube screws since they would not penetrate the very hard ice without shattering it completely; and 2) best take bivouac tents since the amount of snow on the face, with the exception of rime, is similar to that found in the summer, hence it is very difficult to find adequate snow caves.