Ski Mountaineering

Signal Mountain Tour
(Jackson Hole, WY)

Jan 1, 2007

(Private trip)

Lorene Samoska

On New Year's Day, Mike and I decided to head out to the north end of Grand Teton National Park to try out the snow. It is often colder and fluffier there, and this tour was no exception. Signal Mountain is a Jackson Hole classic for cross-country skiers, who usually ski up the long (~10 mile round trip) road for a view of the Tetons. We decided to take skins and cut through the forest up the ridge avoiding the road, and had a wonderful tour to start out the new year.

At the trailhead, only 3 or 4 cars were around at 2PM when we started, contrasting with the Jenny Lake parking lot which is always full. Someone was nice enough to break trail through the trees making the tour much easier. Mike wore a down jacket for most of the 700' climb. We skinned up through interesting meadows and pine forests, which were littered with footprints in the snow so we knew the wildlife must be very active in this quiet area.

We found occasional giant holes in the snow, about 4 feet wide and 3 feet deep, exposing a small bush or shrub, and with tracks entering and leaving: Moose had lain here and munched! The moose seem enjoy these meadows and dig down to get to their favorite foods, usually willows or sage in the winter. We climbed up to the peak where the skin track ended and were rewarded with sunset views of Mount Moran and the rest of the Tetons. The ski down the benches wasn't very steep, but we floated down the soft powder in about half an hour, not needing headlamps to reach the car. On the way out, a cow moose was hunkered down in the snow next to the road. We saw 6 more moose and a coyote on the drive out before darkness fell, and then we knew the animals were watching us.

Mount Moran and Jackson Lake near sunset:

Lorene near the summit with Jackson far in the distance:

Lorene and Mike skiing in winter wonderland en route to Signal Mountain:

Cow Moose hunkered down in the snow:

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