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Summer Skiing: Tetons to the Tordrillos

SKIING GRAND TETON

On Saturday, June 16, three of our Backcountry.com team members—Andrew McLean, Chris Davenport, and myself—climbed up the Stettner/Chevy/Ford route of the Grand Teton and skied the East face for a film project with Brainfarm Cinema and The One Eyed Bird.

We each had skied the Grand before, so for this particular adventure the route was familiar ground and we could focus on the film project objectives. The weather was perfect and the conditions were excellent. With a helicopter circling above, we headed up the ice-filled couloir link-up with camera equipment and ropes dangling around us. With the additions of Camp4Collective film pros, Renan Ozturk and Jimmy Chin, and JHMG support from Brian Warren and Chris Figenshau, our team of seven moved up the climb smoothly and carefully.

Reaching the summit before midday, our crew had some time to enjoy the spectacular views and relax in the comradery that comes with sharing time in the mountains. Then, one by one, Andrew, Chris and I each dropped in from the summit block for some June corn snow down the steep, convex ramp of the 13,776ft peak. That afternoon, with the entire team safely down in the Lupine Meadows parking lot, we toasted Coronas, radiating content from a good day in the Tetons.

TO THE TORDRILLOS

The next day, I headed up to the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge at the base of the Alaska Range via a scenic 40-minute float-plane flight west from Rusty’s Flying Service in Anchorage. Heading in for a session of “Cast & Carve”, our small crew at the Lodge got acquainted and geared up for some corn skiing and fly-fishing from the remote enclave.

The week was filled with sunny, warm days and twenty-four hours of daylight. Averaging about eight to ten 4,000-foot runs per day, we experienced a variety of terrain with panoramic views from each drop. There are some extraordinary couloirs in the Tordrillos, in addition to the classic spines, big faces and steep peaks. We hit up stacked locations like “Couloir Town”, “Top of the World” and “Beyond Bond”, with each new area bringing an enhanced perspective on the expanse of the range.

The 5,000 square-foot lodge is a comfortable and stocked base camp—perched on the edge of Judd Lake, at the headwaters of the Talachulitna River, with a heli-pad out front—it is direct ski/fish/raft in-out. From snow and water sports, to lawn sports, to motorized sports, it is a playground for any age. Privacy abounds as the camp offers a recreational sanctuary. Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is the name of the both the lodge as well as the new business that friends and Heli-Ski pros and guides Mike Overcast, Greg Harms and Olympic Gold Medalist Tommy Moe started this past May. An experienced, professional and fun Alaskan trio, the three collectively have more years of experience cataloguing new terrain and guiding in the big mountains than any other operation out there. The Lodge is available for all summer activities through September for the day or for the week. Winter week ski sessions start in February.

Kim Havell is one of the world’s premier female ski mountaineers. Her career began as a ski coach in the Telluride valley before transitioning to climbing and ski mountaineering in the San Juan Mountains. Before leaving Telluride, Kim went on to claim first female descents on several classic lines. She is one of only a handful of females to have major ski descents on all seven continents, including first descents on four of them. Kim has been featured in several ski films over the years, and when not skiing, keeps herself busy by writing for Outside Magazine, Powder, ESPN, National Geographic and more.

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