American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Mt. Moran, Northeast Ridge, First Descent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Mt. Moran, Northeast Ridge, First Descent. On May 14, I completed the first descent of Mount Moran’s classic northeast ridge, solo and on a snowboard. Hans Johnstone, Rob Haggart and I attempted the route in February but were forced to retreat due to inclement weather and poor visibility. This ridge is the sight of the November 21, 1950 plane crash, and the route was one of the last of the unskied/unsnowboarded classics left in the Tetons, with over 6,000 vertical feet of elevation gain. I skied across Jackson Lake, then skinned halfway up the ridge on 130-cm skis. After the snow became too steep, I abandoned the skis and post-holed up the rest of the ridge to the top of the face. It was a treat to bask in the sun’s warmth, overlooking Idaho! I was traveling very light and took only ski poles, leaving crampons and axes at home. The snow had softened during the day slightly and now, at 3 p.m., the sun had left the face, leaving firm snow. I took the basket off one of my poles and had it ready to use for self-arrest if necessary. On the descent I encountered variable snow, from powder to firm sun-baked snow to breakable crust and back to powder again. It was an incredibly enjoyable descent, looking down the ridge with Jackson Lake looming below. I completed the climb and descent in 14 hours car-to-car.

Stephen Koch, unaffiliated

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