Kai Jones’ progression in big mountain skiing isn’t slowing down, with the young gun spending the better part of the winter stacking clips in Jackson and Montana for the upcoming TGR film. To cap off the season, he just pulled off a descent that he’s been dreaming of for his entire life: skiing off the summit of the Grand Teton. Inspired by generations of legendary skiers in Jackson Hole, Kai teamed up with his close friend and mentor Tim Durtschi, as well as Jackson Hole Mountain Guides' Doug Workman and photographer Greg Von Doersten to climb and ski the 13,776-foot peak. Of course, mountains like this are no walk in the park, and turning back is as much a part of the game as a successful summit. Despite their best efforts, unusually fickle spring snow conditions prevented the team from completing their mission on their first attempt, but weather and perfect corn conditions lined up for a successful climb and descent on Tuesday morning.
The ascent requires multiple pitches of technical rock and ice climbing, as well skiing no-fall-terrain and multiple rappels on the descent. While the peak may not be as remote as other big-mountain objectives Kai has skied, it is the most technical objective he has added to his list, and he is among the youngest to have ever skied it. Keep an eye out for more from the trip in a short film TGR will release later this year.
Living the dream high up in the Tetons. | Tim Durtschi photos.
The Ford-Stettner route requires a few pitches of steep snow and ice climbing before topping out onto a massive hanging snowfield below the summit. | Greg Von Doersten photos.
I first set eyes on the grand during a ski trip to Jackson when I was 15 years old. I never even knew people skied it until I started filming with TGR. I made it a goal to ski the Grand when I started filming with TGR. I have been on many ski mountaineering missions over the years which helped me feel prepared to ski down the tallest peak in the Tetons! It was great to share the experience with Kai who has also been putting in the work to gain the experience needed to ski the Grand!
- Tim Durtschi
Skiing the Grand Teton is a very, very ambitious endeavor - what a great opportunity for Kai! It’s his home mountain, the crucible of the Tetons, and one of the great ski descents in the world. To top it off, Kai is one of the youngest ever to ski it. Having a local kid being among the youngest is always something special. Being a part of the next generation, Kai has a huge amount of respect for the mountains, and I think he’s a great spokesperson for sharing the message of respect and finding joy in the mountains.
– Jason Dittmer, General Manager of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides
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