John, Matt and myself on top of the Grand.
In the summer of 2001 Brad Hornung and I traveled and climbed for 2 months in Alaska and Canada. After freezing in Alaska and scaring our wits out in Canada we opted to head south to the Tetons to climb warm alpine rock. Along the way we picked up Brad's sister, Christina, in Calgary and then headed south to Jackson where we met up with my brother John and his oldest son, Matthew, who was 13 at the time.
Our first day out we attempted Teewinot via the East Face - a 4th class route that is very exposed but relatively simple. John and Matthew, who had driven from North Dakota, turned around about half way up the route due to fatigue and I continued up alone. Brad and Christina followed shortly afterwards.
The next day we trekked in and climbed Guide's Wall (5.8) on Storm Point in Cascade Canyon. My friend from Charlottesville, Jeb Tilly, joined us and he and Brad climbed the first 8 pitches while I guided John and Matthew up the first 3 pitches. Matthew climbed strong and fast, John was a little slower in his tennis shoes. We rappelled off just as it got dark.
The day after Guide's Wall we trekked into the Upper Saddle camp via the Garnet Canyon trail. We started late and hiked slowly finally reaching it just as it got dark. The next morning John, Matthew, Brad, Christina and I all headed up to attempt the Owen Spalding Route (II, 5.4). The climb was pretty straight forward and everyone summated and we enjoyed a spectacular vista from the top. Guiding Matthew to the top of the Grand and seeing his expression as he scrambled up the final blocks to the summit was the highlight of my summer!
John on Fat Man's squeeze traverse.
Matt (age 13!) beling lowered down the OS rap.
The next morning Brad and I woke at dawn and headed over to attempt the Exum Ridge on the Grand (III, 5.7). We managed to climb the entire Lower Exum but were stormed off before we could attempt the upper Exum. The climbing on the Lower Exum was excellent; steep and exposed rock but with good handholds the entire way. Someday I hope to go back and complete the route! After climbing the Exum we descended back to the valley for food and a day of rest.
Following Brad up the Black Face on the Lower Exum.
Two days later we headed out again - this time for a short climb across Jenny Lake. John, Matthew and I scrambled up Cube Point and then lounged around in the sun. The route was simple and straightforward with great views of Owen and Teewinot.
Matt and John on Cube Point.
After that it was time for John and Matthew to head home. We said our goodbyes and made plans for future climbs. Matthew has potential to be a great climber and I hope to continually coax him out on trips in the years to come!
Teewinot - East Face II 4th Class, 12,325'
- Route: The East Face is an obvious gully / couloir that twists up from the Lupine Meadows parking lot. You can pretty much park, get out of the car and start hiking. It ascends 5,600' and from the top you have stellar views of the Grand and Mt. Owen. The first 2/3rds of the route ascends switch backs up the peak and then you ascend moderate but exposed 4th class rock to the summit. Just below the summit there is a section of route finding that you have to work though by moving up and right. However it's pretty straight forward. Check out "Teton Classics" by Richard Rossiter or Ortenburger / Jackson's biblical guide to the Tetons for more information.
- Gear: By August this is a sneaker route. If doing the route in June / early July carry a mountain axe, crampons and boots.
- Time: It took me around 5 hours RT in mid August. However I was in prime shape and well acclimatized; most people take around 8 hours RT.
Storm Point - Guide's Wall, III, 5.8
- Route: This is classic rock route in a beautiful setting. Most parties only climb the first six pitches. Beware of afternoon storms that appear out of nowhere and race like locomotives down Cascade Canyon; I was once caught in a terrific lightening storm 5 pitches up the route! Check out "Teton Classics" by Richard Rossiter or Ortenburger / Jackson's biblical guide to the Tetons for more information.
- Gear: Standard alpine rock rack; 2 ropes.
- Time: Average time is around 6-8 hours from Jenny Lake.
Grand Teton - Owen Spalding, II, 5.4, 13,770'
- Route: This is a fairly complex route with a fair amount of route finding so I won't even try to describe it. Check out "Teton Classics" by Richard Rossiter or Ortenburger / Jackson's biblical guide to the Tetons for more information.
- Gear: In 1996 I climbed this in kaki pants and a K Mart jacket sans rope and did alright. On the other hand people die on this route all the time so be aware.
- Time: Average time from the Lower Saddle is about 6-7 hours RT. From the parking lot people often do it in around 18 hours RT. Personally I think doing it in a day would be painful!
Grand Teton - Lower Exum Ridge, III, 5.7
- Route: This is another complex route that I won't even try to describe. Check out "Teton Classics" by Richard Rossiter or Ortenburger / Jackson's biblical guide to the Tetons for more information. On the other hand if you know where the ridge is and you are comfortable on alpine 5.8 you can't miss it.
- Gear: Standard alpine rock rack. If you plan on going all the way to the top you'll need 2 ropes to descend, but if you're traversing off from Wall Street one rope will suffice.
- Time: It took us about 6 hours RT from the Lower Saddle. We were slow and had one party pass us on pitch 4 who had started from the parking lot that morning.
Cube Point - East Couloir, 4th Class
- Route: This is a simple route that can be climbed in an afternoon. Scramble up the Hanging Canyon trail aiming for Cube Point. Climb the couloir on the south side and work your way around to the east where an obvious couloir and ridge leads you to the top. Check out either of the guidebooks for more details.
- Gear: You can do this sans rope and in sneakers but if you're not comforatable with exposure carry a rope, some slings and nuts.
- Time: If you take the boat across Jenny Lake it takes about 4-6 hours RT.
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