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Author Topic: Grand Teton  (Read 144 times)

scottie_c

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Grand Teton
« on: May 31, 2004, 08:23:29 AM »

would any local climbers like to share experiences in Grand Teton National Park?

headed out for a few weeks starting mid August, and am interested in hearing a North Eastern climber's perspective.
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GhostFace

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2004, 09:44:28 AM »

I lived in Jackson for about three years before moving East and I loved it out there!!  Belay ledges were seemingly about every 50 feet, there were tons of cracks to slot a nut or sink a cam, lots of wildlife, no blackflies.  I think the climbing out East is tougher because there aren't as many spots to place protection.  The approaches in the Tetons are pretty stiff, though.  Pre-dawn alpine starts are usually required.  anyway, too much reminiscing...enjoy your trip, and be sure to sip a couple pints of sweetgrass IPA at Dornans for me!
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slobmonster

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2004, 03:47:10 PM »

After many years of living and travelling out west, then moving back here to North Conway to guide, I finally made it out to the Tetons last summer.  My friends out there had essentially required it, for several years, and were incredulous that I had not yet visited.  It took the generosity of a client who happens to be a pilot for American Airlines to schlep me out there in August, which would otherwise be peak season for guiding.  I flew into Jackson in a first class seat (!), and had been advised to try to get on a certain side of the plane, right side I think, for the N-S approach into the Jackson airfield.  Sick.  I like planes anyway, so I'm always pasted to the window checking out the landscape... I knew we were close when I could recognize the Wind Rivers and Pingora.  The airfield in basically right underneath the Grand, so you're in the plane as its rapidly descending, in full sun, with an inimitable view of damn near everything.  Then wham, you're there.  

I was lucky, as a good friend from college is a climbing ranger in the Park, and so she's got her own cabin in Lupine Meadows.  Big, big smiles there.  The climbers ranch is right down the road and seems a pretty sweet place.  You can even hitchhike fairly easily from town (Jackson) into the park, and from in the park pretty much anywhere you need to go.  

The Tetons are big scrabbly mountains, lots of talus, lots of sun when it's sunny and frightening and/or cold when otherwise.  My first day there my hostess had to work so she gave me vague directions to the trailhead for Teewinot, which I missed and bushwhacked several miles like an idiot.  Slogged up to the business in very hot weather, and I was getting a little worried (just a little, mind you) b/c I hadn't seen a soul all day and though I'd finally joined the 'trail' I wasn't in familiar terrain.  Did I mention it was hot?  Like 95 degrees, ten percent humidity, and my NH body was losing fluid like no other.  The camelback ran dry, as did my meager rations, perfetcly suitable for a day around the Whites but up at altitude my appetite skyrockets.  

Oh did I also mention that I'd got off the plane the afternoon before, and was in no way acclimated?  So my head's spinning a little, and I've got an annoying headache, but I found the faint climbers trail -cum- path of least resistance up the slabs and corners, negotiated the snowfield without incident, even crossing a minor 'schrund.  I aimed for the wrond gunsight notch and discovered firsthand the steepness of anything in the Tetons that faces north.  Yikes.  Got down to my friend's cabin without a problem and quickly ate all the food she had.

Another friend, from Bozeman, showed up and the 3 of us slogged into Death Canyon to see what's what.  Big place, nice long hike, big hunka steep rock.  Excellent rock.  We climbed Caveat Emptor, swapping leads between the 3 of us, and I of course picked some heinous 'variation' higher up that was somewhat scary and definitely not 5.10.  There are several excellent routes in the vicinity, none very easy, and all have quite a bit of character.  

The Grand was a fun time.  I was 'auditing' with Exum, basically shadowing their guides to learn the terrain and to give them the opportunity to see if I was a schmuck or not, and thus worthy of hiring.  NB I'm still guiding in North Conway, so if you like schmucks... anyway the hike in is nice and long, and it's worth planning a whole day for it, as it's just very scenic.  Mid-summer you can get wicked hot, the sun just beats on you, so taking one's time seemed to make sense.  I brought an umbrella, intending to use it as a parasol, but was pscyhed to have it when it started raining mid-afternoon.  We stayed at the Exum shack-thing up at the lower saddle, and if you're not short on cash and want to have a fairly easy time, hire a guide and just stay there.  Otherwise you've got a few options, sleeping a little bit lower, in a tent, or bivying somewhere in the lower saddle, for which I'm fairly sure you need a permit.  

Get up early on summit day.  The day before I got to Jackson they had their biggest rescue ever, due to a direct lightning strike on the friction pitch of the Exum Ridge.  A good strategy is to get an alpine start and then just move at a nice even pace.  We left at four AM and were on the summit by about 9:30 AM, in the rain, zero visibility, 35 degrees or so, and with noone else even remotely nearby.  It was sweet.  Though I'd like to get abck and see for myself the exposure over which I was free-soloing...

Bring your approach shoes.  Bring gatorade mix or something to allow you to drink a crapload of water.  Bring lots of yummy food.  Don't bring a big rack for mountain routes... they're mostly fourth class anyway.  You can get up the OS with one pink tricam if you're crafty.  Oh and can you say 'hip belay?'  Big ledges.  

Have fun.
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Wojto

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2004, 11:53:24 AM »

My favorite climbs:

1) Complete Exum Ridge
2) Guide's Wall
3) Baxter's Pinnacle
4) Symmetry Spire

Black Ice Couloir has never been in lately.
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jterran

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2004, 11:04:06 AM »

My buddy Dirk and I went a few years ago.  Here's our trip report:

http://dizzyplanetcafe.com/tetons_home.html

Baxters Pinnacle is a lot of fun, don't miss it!

The canoe approach to Mt. Moran is spectacular.  Watch for black bears around the shrubbery near the canoe landing at the start of the hike up to CMC camp.

The drugstore in town has great milkshakes...
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jterran

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2004, 11:07:31 AM »

BTW, if you're not a strong hiker, I highly recommend doing some steep hikes before you head out.  We did a bunch of hikes with all our climbing gear (rack and 2 ropes) split between the two of us.  Long approaches out there...
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tradmanclimbz

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2004, 05:37:36 PM »

Ditto on the get in shape part. I lived out there when i was strong and young and got my butt handed to me every rime I went out ::)
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LTIAC

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2004, 01:38:01 PM »

OK, I'll share mine.  Back in July, 1974 three young college students drove from Massachusetts to the Tetons for an attempt on the Grand.  The more experienced one (Tony) planned to meet a friend (Yuki) out there and they would climb something challenging for a few days while the less experienced of us (Rick and me) would do some easier climbs.  As it turns out, shortly after we split up Rick decided he didn't feel like climbing  :'( and he took a Greyhound bus home.  I was stuck out there alone and went on a nice 5-day solo backpacking trip and had a (relatively) good time.

Eventually Tony and I got back together again and climbed the Grand.  We couldn't get a permit to camp at the Lower Saddle, but were able to camp on the flat part of the glacier below it.  We parked at the Lupine Meadows lot and took the trail to its end in Garnet Canyon.  From there it was rockhopping on broken boulders for a while then uphill on a very loose scree slope to the snow.  We pitched our tent and spent the night.  

Next morning we had good weather, climbed up to the Lower Saddle and then headed up a faint trail towards the Upper Saddle.  After a while we traversed across another loose scree-filled couloir to Wall Street and followed that to the end.  I think we roped up there and Tony got the first lead at the spot where Glenn Exum had committed himself to the route on his first solo ascent.  We switched leads for the entire climb and eventually summitted, didn't see anyone else on the route until we got to the top.  

We simulclimbed down the Owen-Spaulding route to the rappel station and sat there for a couple of hours while other parties (who had probably ascended that route) rapped down.  Eventually we also rapped down and had an uneventful walk back to the Lower Saddle.  The quality of the climbing on the Exum Ridge was great with good rock, cool temps., light winds and mostly sunny skies.

At the Lower Saddle, I retrieved my Kelty Tioga (which we had used to carry our gear to that point) and ice axe and started glissading down back to camp.  The top of the slope was pretty steep and it was hard to get into a sitting position because the bottom of the packframe would dig into the snow, so I had to downclimb a bit.  After the slope relaxed, a sitting glissade brought me to the bottom and we got back to the tent before dark.  

During the night, a thunderstorm woke us up and nearly blew down the tent but we survived OK.  The third day we packed up and hiked out no problem.  

Since that first time, we've returned to the Tetons and done Baxter's by the South Ridge, Nez Perce by the South Ridge, Symmetry Spire by the Direct Jensen Ridge, South Teton by the Northwest couloir, Middle Teton by the Southeast Ridge (the rappel into the notch is spooky) and the Guide's Wall.  It's probably my favorite place to climb.  The Climber's Ranch is a great place to stay and a float trip down the Snake is a nice way to finish off a trip.
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scottie_c

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2004, 08:24:59 AM »

thanks for the sharing your experiences, mine will begin Saturday.

any beta on the Teton Traverse?
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cowboy

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2004, 08:47:06 AM »

Dinner and fat tire ales at Dornan's in Moose is an absolute must. Good outdoor chuckwagon style breakfast too.  Its real close to Jenny Lake and lupine meadows.  The best view of the tetons imagineable and a very cool atmosphere (cowboys, climbers, paddlers, etc.).

Wish I could offer more climbing suggestions.  I did Upper Exum Ridge on the Grand and the Middle teton via southwest couloir. Very fun and not too difficult--just route finding.  I want to do the the southwest ridge of Disappointment peak.

I'm jealous.
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DWarriner

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Re: Grand Teton
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2004, 11:52:26 AM »

>>any beta on the Teton Traverse?

All 10?  Yeah, prepare to be b*tch-slapped.

One parting note: This was alluded to in many of the previous posts, but the one piece of generic Teton advice is this:

Objects in Tetons are larger than they appear.

This is most true for the apporaches.  Once you do your first Teton, you'll [really] know what I mean.  Even from the road, they just don't look that big.  There is usually, how shall I say, "an adjustment period."

With that said, you're gonna have a blast.

-David
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