Want to ski something steep(ish) on Teton Pass, but don’t want to deal with the scene on the bootpack up Glory? Or maybe you’re just not that into bootpacking generally. There certainly comes a time every season when we need a break from bootpacking.
What Makes It Great
The problem on Teton Pass is that if you’re not into bootpacking, that means you’ll be skiing the south side. And the south side just isn’t that steep. With one exception. Actually, we’re sure there’s more than one exception. There’s one well known exception. Meet The Claw. It even sounds wonderfully hardcore.
But The Claw, several gashes on the north facing slope on the pass’ south side that are very obvious as you near the top parking lot, is not quite as gnarly as its name would have you suggest. These couloirs cut through trees are maybe 30- to 35-degrees. Each is about 30- to 40-feet wide. Towards their middles, they constrict a bit, and the pitch lessens to more like 25 degrees.
To get to The Claw, go as if you’re going to Avalanche Bowl, using the South Side Skin Track that heads out south from the parking lot at the top of the pass. But, where you’d leave the skin track to go the final few hundred feet to the top of that bowl, don’t.
Continue on the skin track like you’re going to the summit of Mt. Elly. Between the cut off for Avalanche Bowl and the Mt. Elly summit, take a left. The Claw is pretty much catty corner to Avalanche Bowl. Where Avalanche Bowl is east facing, The Claw is north facing. If Avalanche Bowl takes 45 minutes to get to from the parking lot, The Claw will take a few minutes more.
Like all the ski runs on Teton Pass, The Claw is wonderfully captured in aerial photographs in Angus Thuermer Jr’s Jackson Hole Ski Atlas, which is available in all local ski shops for under $20.
Who is Going to Love It
The Claw is not an early-season run. While people will ski the top pitch of Avalanche Bowl and then skin back up to the top and exit the way they came in, we’ve never seen a skin track back up The Claw.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
As with all backcountry skiing, you don’t want to do this without proper avy gear and training. And even then, please use your head. All season long, get daily avalanche advisories for the Pass at www.jhavalanche.org/viewTeton. Call in an observation at 739-2607.