Happy New Year!During the month of December the Tetons received over four feet of new snow. Unfortunately, this new snow is lying on a bed of faceted crystals (unstable snow) located deep in the snowpack. Climbers should be especially careful as they could easily penetrate down to the weaker layers and be the ideal trigger for an avalanche. Good route selection and a thorough understanding of the avalanche conditions are going to be key for a safe and successful ascent.
Please be sure to include the Bridger Teton Avalanche Forecast (http://www.jhavalanche.org) as part of your research when planning your trip. Pay special attention to the Snowpack Summaries section of the forecast as this will provide some crucial information as to how the snowpack in progressing throughout the season. As always, the avalanche forecast does not cover elevations above 10,400 feet.
Bradley, Taggart, Leigh, and Phelps Lakes are frozen over. Jenny Lake is mostly frozen over with thinner, new, ice closer to Cascade Canyon. Jackson Lake has a large section of open water near the middle and close to the west shore. Most of the lake ice has formed recently, due to the below zero temperatures we have been experiencing and will continue to thicken throughout the winter. Quite often we hear tales of near disastrous lake crossings. Be mindful to monitor conditions while crossing any of the lakes, spread your group out, and be ready to quickly shed your gear in the event of an unexpected plunge.