The Tetons. Jimmy Chin solo climbed and skied the Grand Teton (13,770′), Middle Teton (12,804′) and South Teton (12,514′)–the three highest points on the skyline visible here–in 10:55 on June 20, 2008. [Photo] Tom Santoro
Five years ago in Grand Teton National Park, Jimmy Chin solo climbed and skied the Grand Teton, Middle Teton and South Teton in a single day, an endurance feat that was likely a first. His enchainment took about fourteen hours. Returning for a better time in finer style, Chin bested his record by three hours on June 20, 2008, going car-to-car, reaching all of the highest points of the traverse and skiing three different descents in 10 hours and 55 minutes.
On the morning of the 20th, Chin departed from Lupine Meadows Trailhead at 1:40 a.m. carrying everything he needed for the day: skis, boots, crampons and ice axes, but no rope. By 5 a.m. he was at the base of Stettner Couloir, and at 6:40 a.m. he reached the top of the Grand. He skied the Ford Couloir and downclimbed the Chevy Couloir by 8 a.m., traversing across to the Lower Saddle and reaching the base of the Middle Teton’s North Ridge by 8:45 a.m. Soloing rock in ski boots and crampons, Chin reached the top of the Middle Teton in an hour, and by 10 a.m. he was skiing its Southwest Couloir. At 11:15 a.m. he summited the South Teton, then skied its East Ridge. He returned to Lupine Meadows Trailhead at 12:35 p.m. for a total time of 10:55.
In 2003, Chin did not ski the East Ridge of the South Teton, a line that had not been skied until a few years ago due to its steep and exposed nature, and because the descent requires a very heavy snow year to fill in the line. In 2003 Chin rappelled the Chevy Couloir; this year he downclimbed its short ice bulges.
In the mid-1990s, Steven Koch and Mark Newcomb climbed and skied the enchainment in about 17-18 hours.
While climbing and skiing the grand with Kit DesLauriers on June 17, Chin noticed that the “ski and snow conditions were really good. I had also eyed the East Ridge of the South Teton, which I thought looked like an interesting and logical ski descent I had never done. I’ve always considered my day skiing the three peaks in 2003 one of my better days skiing in the Tetons. This year I had been out of town most of the spring, so I was just looking for beautiful day back at home in the Tetons, and thata��s what I got.”
In addition to ski descent credits across the globe, including skiing from the summit of Everest, and the first descents of Tai Yang Peak, China, and Chang Zheng Peak, Tibet, Chin has an extensive amount of experience in the Tetons. He had made eleven prior ski descents of the Grand Teton, and has soloed the Grand Traverse (Teewinot, Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton, Ice Cream Cone, Spalding, Gilkey’s Tower, Cloudveil Dome and Nez Perce) in a single day and round-tripped the Grand in 4:20 car to car.