Our first true backcountry ski experience was on 25 Short. It was nearly two decades ago. Our set-up might have been Alpine Trekkers on 205 Volkl 205 GS race skis. We might have had two bottles of wine in our backpack. There was also a sleeping bag and pad and a CamelBak with a hose that was beyond frozen. It was blizzarding fiendishly. The sun had set about 30 minutes after we had left the Bradley-Taggart Lake parking area. The plan was to camp.
What Makes It Great
By the time we decided to dig out a platform and pitch the tent, we were already over this “backcountry skiing” thing. We fell into the tent and pretty much passed out.
The next morning, we abandoned our cozy camp for the summit. Along the way, we began to reconsider the impolite words we had used to describe backcountry skiing the day prior.
There are many, many amazing summits in the Tetons, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say 25 Short, which gets its name from its 9,975-foot elevation, has one of finest tops in all the Tetons.
We skied down the same faces our skin track ascended.
And those east-facing aspects were all we skied on 25 Short for most of the following years. When we were feeling adventurous we’d ski the peak’s slide path, but we’d stick to skier’s left so we’d still come out at the same spot at the bottom.
Recently we discovered skier’s right of 25 Short’s slide path. Traverse over far enough and the slopes have a bit of a northerly slant. The deadfall and willows at the bottom aren’t super thick either.
The approach to this is the usual approach to 25 Short. Start from the Bradley Taggart trailhead in Grand Teton National Park. From the parking lot, there are usually two main tracks: one heads north, the other south. Take the latter.
There’s really only one place you might get lost. Fifteen to 20-minutes from the parking lot and after you have wrapped your way around a small rise, one track continues to wrap around the rise while another descends to a small creek. Go down – and I’m talking about maybe 10-feet here – cross the snow-covered creek and then the ascending begins in earnest.
You should be at the summit in 90-minutes to three hours.
After enjoying the summit view, keep your skins on and traverse to the south. Most of your travel is horizontal, but there are a few short uphill pops.
How do you know you’re in the right spot? You look below you and see lots of tiny tops of pine trees peeping out below. And you realize the slopes below do have a bit of a northern aspect to them.
Skiing down this line, there are gullies to play in, down drop, and traverse. When the trees get too tight, look for an open glade. The face is pocked with them.
At the bottom, it does get a bit tricky, as you’re not heading for the exit off the more popular eastern facing slopes. You want to be more south than that. For those familiar with the northern approach to Maverick, you’re looking to hit the base of that skin track just as it starts to head into the trees.
We hope you won’t hate us for writing you should look for tracks to follow. That’s what we’ve done each of the half-dozen or so times we’ve skied this line this season though.
You’ll eventually pop out on the Valley Trail south of the skin track you took in. Some people put their skins on once they hit the valley floor. Others prefer to test their arm muscles.
Who is Going to Love It
The easiest backcounty ski peak in Grand Teton National Park, 25 Short, still requires skills. Like all backcountry skiing endeavors, this one requires knowledge of how to safely travel in avalanche terrain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Start from the Bradley Taggart trailhead in Grand Teton National Park. From the parking lot, there are usually two main tracks: one heads north, the other south. Take the latter.
All season long, get daily avalanche advisories for the Pass at this website. Call in an observation at 739-2607.