July 29, 2016
The dog days of summer have hit. It's hot, dry and lots of people are crawling around in the hills. Arriving with a plan A and B is recommended for those seeking overnight permits in the Park.
Snow has melted out of most areas, with just a few stubborn patches lingering here and there.
July 29, 2016
July Snow Storm! - July 10/11, 2016
4" of new snow reported at the Lower Saddle along with 50-70mph gusts. The fixed lines and watering hole were encased in ice - similar to current conditions up high in the mountains. Expect "alpine" conditions for the next number of days, particularly in the east to north to west facing terrain as well as the sheltered terrain and ledges of the southerly terrain.
The snow is melting fast in the high country. An axe and crampons are still recommended to access the Lower Saddle as well as some of the high alpine sheltered terrain. Expect snow/ice/verglas in the shady nooks and crannies and dry conditions on the sunny, exposed ridges. Ice axes are still useful in negotiating some of the passes along the Teton Crest. See the links for each area for more information.
What are conditions like on Paintbrush Divide? Is the Teton Crest Trail clear of snow? Do I need an ice axe for Paintbrush Divide? Is there dry camping anywhere?
From mid-May to mid-July, these critical questions crop up dozens of time every day from curious backpackers, hikers and climbers. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation about snow conditions and what to expect is circulating, including on blogs and websites. Please spread the word about this site to others.
Generally, there is snow in the high country till mid July. This includes the Teton Crest Trail. Until the beginning of July this snow may be punchy, except very early in the morning and during the night. This type of hiking (post-holing) is type II character building. It is not fun in the traditional sense. You may be up for the challenge, but sincerely ask yourself if everyone in your party feels the same way. North and East facing passes can hold snow even longer.
Until enough intrepid backpackers have created a trail of hard packed snow, strong navigation skills are a necessity.
Currently, snow level is at approximately 9,000 feet on south facing aspects and lower on shaded slopes, forested sections of trail, etc. The rate at which the snow will continue to melt depends on a variety of factors like temperature, cloud cover, wind speed, etc. Check this site regularly for updates on what trails/passes still entail snow travel. Use your topographical map to cross reference the snow level with the elevation of the intended campsite area to determine whether or not you'll be camping on snow.
Ice axes are currently recommended for Paintbrush Divide (and all other passes, ascents) Having an ice axe isn't enough-- you need to know how to use it. Practice before putting it to use. It's not the job of the kind salespeople to teach you how to use it.
Assume that you will encounter snow above 9,000 feet and that the reccomendation of crampons and ice axe persists, particularly on all passes, until otherwise noted.