August 1-3, 2015
I’d been going on and on about how beautiful the Tetons were to Carly for a while and that we should go up there and climb. Earlier this year I finally said we should just put it on the calendar and do it. Luckily weather cooperated and we went up over the weekend and were able to summit.
Unlike my last trip up the Grand my commentary will be much shorter. Carly and I headed up Thursday night after work and bivied in the car at Lupine Meadows since the camping areas were full and it was 11pm when we finally arrived. After a restless night we quickly headed to the Ranger Station so we could secure a backcountry camping permit for Garnet Canyon at the Moraine. This is the same camping area as Chris and I used and is a pretty good spot to stage an attempt on the Grand. It doesn’t quite get you as far up as the Saddle but the conditions are a bit better and it doesn’t require lugging a heavy pack quite as far.
Luckily we got a permit, but not until Saturday night which meant we bummed around Friday sorting gear and generally hanging out before our hike in. The plan was to hike in Saturday, climb the Grand Sunday, and hike out Monday.
Our hike in was pretty good. Our packs were heavy but not nearly as heavy as some of our fellow climbers. I was able to get by with 35 liter and a couple things strapped to the outside. Carly used a 70 liter that was largely empty. We were able to split weight OK, but not perfectly.
Climb day we awoke at 3:30am under a brightly lit full moon. Aside from packing my pack I was able to the great majority of the approach without a headlamp due to the moon. We left camp at about 4:00 and got to the Lower Saddle about 45 minutes later. An hour later we arrived at the base of the Lower Exum.
During the approach we saw two headlamps in front of us but they were well off the approach trail and we eventually met up with them. Sam and Seth (SLC and Kentucky) didn’t have good beta for the approach and therefore fell in behind me since I’d already done the route once before. Since I got them to the base of the route they didn’t have any qualms having Carly and I head up first.
Unlike the last time I was able to stay more or less on route at the third pitch, which last time we did incorrectly. The third pitch is still a bit tricky with some chimney and squeezing but not too bad. Were climbing effectively and weren’t in danger of being passed by Seth and Sam, nor the team behind them. Carly loved the Black Face pitch as did I (I did the 5.7 rather than the 5.9 like last time). Once on the Upper Exum we did have to wait a bit at the Golden Staircase since there isn’t much room to pass there. However after that we moved pretty well and were able to simul-climb and pass a number of parties along the way to the summit. We reached the summit at around 2 pm.
The descent was uneventful as we followed an Exum guide, Garrick, down. Our dehydrated chili that I’d made for the trip tasted awesome when we finally got back to the tent around 6pm.
Monday we headed out and enjoyed beers and salsa in the parking lot while enjoying the view of Teewinot. Carly’s Grand weekend couldn’t have gone more smoothly or with better weather. It was kind of on the hot side actually and we wished we hadn’t brought some of the warmer layers, but that’s just how things go in the alpine. We’re looking forward to the next time and the next route.