We spent the extra long weekend in the Tetons. While the weather was generally good it was a bit hot and we didn’t climb much. What we did climb we bailed 1.5 pitches into because of a thunderstorm. Still a fun trip and was able to explore some areas we weren’t familiar with.
Over the weekend I did another trip up to the Tetons. For this second in a month trip up I went with Matt and Patrick. We’d all been thinking of day tripping the Grand for a while. Patrick hadn’t summited at all and Matt hadn’t been up in a while. I’d already done the Grand by part of the same route earlier in August, but I was keen to see how I could hold up against them during car to car attempt.
Leaving work a little early we sped up to Jackson so we could hit the grocery store and stock up on snacks, post-climb beers, and a few other necessities. After taking probably a little more time than we should have we settled in to Lupine Meadows Trailhead around 10:30 pm for a short bivy. We woke around 3 am and were on the trail in less than an hour. It did take a bit of time to pack up the truck and such which accounted for a little more time.
Once on the trail the game began. Matt and Patrick would slowly pull away, especially on the steeper sections. I’d catch up went they stopped and we’d all fuel and change layers. It was surprisingly warm for as early as it was. Our trip through the forest and on the switchbacks was largely uneventful aside from a large buck sighting from about 35 feet away.
As we got to the Meadows the sun started warming up the high peaks. While sunset is a wonderful event, I would say that I enjoy sunrises more. There’s an anticipation of the day to come that joins a sunrise. Sunrise is a deep breath and sunset is a sighing exhale.
All in all we made reasonably good time to the Lower Saddle, passing a few parties along the way. Finding base of the route wasn’t too bad as we’d timed things such that there was plenty of light to see. I’ve done the Full Exum twice but not just the Upper. The approach is pretty straightforward. Wall Street is the early highlight of the route. A broad sloping ramp that looks very steep from afar is actually easier than some of the approach until the last ten feet. In that last few feet the ramp pinches off to just 6-8 inches wide. Either an upper way via a foot traverse, which I did, can be taken or going lower and having some sloping hands with some reasonable feet. Matt and Patrick went this way.
Once on the route proper we started simul climbing with Patrick at the lead. He lead the length of the route in about 6 pitches, stopping only when gear ran out or when the ledges were too big to pass up.
Weather was quite a bit different than when Carly and I were up at the beginning of August. At that time we got baked under the high altitude sun, calm winds, and warm temperatures. This time I wore a puffy for about half of it. The wind whipped, snow fell (a little), and the sun was obscured. We saw precip off in the distance for much of the climb but there was never a major danger than any of us saw so we continued on. We summited around 11:20 am.
On the way down we heard some major rockfall from over by the Middle Teton. About 45 minutes later we heard a chopper and saw the yellow NPS rescue helicopter. It headed up the South Fork to the opposite side of the Middle Teton. While the rockfall wasn’t a contributor, there was a climber that slipped and fell on a moderate route on the opposite side of the mountain. He was rescued by the rangers and short-hauled out to Lupine Meadows before going to the hospital. Not sure of the extent of the injuries but it would seem he is largely OK.
Once hitting the Meadows Patrick cranked up the pace. We were in striking distance of a sub-12 hour attempt so he didn’t want to miss the opportunity. As such he started jogging down the trail. Matt and Patrick are far better trail runners than I so I’m sure I slowed them down a bit, particularly once we got to the non-rocky portion of the trail. Nevertheless we were a team so I pushed on and was sort of able to keep pace (though they were going slower for me than they probably would have). Only in the last half mile or so did they drop me and make a break for the finish line. After nearly 12 hours on the move I was pretty tired and my legs just couldn’t keep up so I had to walk a few hundred yards in the final leg. Luckily I was able to finish strong and run into the finish line. 11:57:35.
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.
This is the first in getting through a backlog of pictures and posts. I can’t say when the next will come, could be tonight, could be in a month. Things are quite busy here in SLC and much of it doesn’t involve being outside unfortunately. I’m thinking that it will improve in the coming weeks though.
Matt, Eric and I went up to the Tetons to do a little climbing. The plan was the Black Ice Couloir but we got some beta that the snow conditions getting to it sucked so we changed plans even before leaving SLC. The plan changed to just day trip stuff.
Because I don’t have a bunch of time, suffice it to say that we did a lot of walking around and no climbing. The only time we roped up was to cross a slide avalanche path on the way up to Symmetry Spire. Weather took us off that objective and the other two days attempting Teewinot and the Snaz, didn’t happen because we didn’t get up early enough. Lesson learned I guess.