The first major obstacle in climbing the Grand
Teton is reserving a backcountry camping permit from the Jenny
Lake Ranger Station. A permit may only be reserved in person 24
hours in advance of your departure into the backcountry. Our team
met up in Jackson on Sunday morning at 6:30 am and we were at the
ranger station at Jenny Lake about 6:50. There was a guy from
Idaho in line and 2 kids from Utah sleeping on the ground in
front of us. The ranger station opens at 8 am and the line
quickly grew to about 15 people. The 2 kids from Utah had a party
of 10 in their group so they filled up all the available spaces
left at the Lower Saddle and the Morraine. We drew the Caves
which put us about halfway up the mountain to set up camp. Since
our permit was for Monday night Linda and I drove back to
Pinedale to pack our gear so we could meet Neil and Steven at
7:30 am Monday in Jackson.
August 13th, 2001
Departing from Lupine Meadows Trailhead a little
after 8 am the trail ascends slowly through the trees. After
about 1.7 miles the trail forks and climbers proceed on the
Garnet Canyon trail. From here the trail climbs 6 long
switchbacks spanning almost 2 miles to reach the beginning of
Garnet Canyon. Here it began to rain very hard so it was time to
put on the rain pants and jacket.
The photo below is looking back at Taggard and Bradley
Lake from the begining of Garnet Canyon.
In the photo below Linda, Steve,
and I are in front of the Middle Teton easily distinguished by
the black dike running down the middle of it. The caves campsite
is located at the uppermost trees shown in the photo below.
In the photo below Neil and Steven are making
their way through one of the 2 boulder fields you encounter
on route to the lower saddle. Some of the boulders were the size
of small houses but the route was fairly well marked.
The photo below shows the trail up to our campsite at
the Caves. The Caves is located at the top of Spalding Falls in the trees. This
stretch of the trail was very steep and tiresome. We were glad it wasn't
We arrived at the Caves campsite around 2 p.m.
and began searching for a place to put up our tents. There were
actual caves you could camp in under some large boulders, but
with all the rodent droppings in there we opted not too.
Camping at the caves provides a nice location
midway up the mountain. Your summit day is longer but you don't
have to carry your heavy packs all the way up to the lower
saddle. We got camp set up, cooked some dinner and retired very
early since we would be departing for the summit at 2 a.m.
August 14th, 2001
It was up early at 2 am and on the trail by 2:30.
The sky was clear and the stars were out giving us hope for the
weather. It was up some steep slopes, through another boulder field,
and across a section known as the Morraines. Past the Morraines there is
a section of rock where a fixed rope has been put in place to aid climbers.
The rope made this section fairly easy, it would be a pain without it, especially
those carrying a full pack to the lower saddle.
After hiking through the darkness for about 1 1/2 hours we reached
the lower saddle around 4 am. From here you can look back into
Idaho and see lights from all the small towns. We searched around for about 20
minutes to locate the water pipe to fill up our bottles. From the saddle we hiked
up past the black dike and through a section known as the
Midway through the chimneys you crawl through a
hole in the rocks known as the Eye of the Needle. In the photo
below Neil and Steven are in the Eye of the Needle.
The chimney section
is some class 3 climbing with maybe an occasional class 4 move. We proceeded
unroped topping out on a ridge that gave us our first views of the infamous
ledge known as Wall Street. Wall Street is a slanted ramp that starts out
fairly wide and slowly narrows as you climb up it finally disappearing into the rock.
Steven and Linda weren't feeling too well at this point and both of them
decided if they vomitted they would feel better. Don't know if it helped
or not but we continued on. Neil lead the way around the corner of Wall Street
where it's an extremely exposed move over nothing but air. I was the last to go around the corner of Wall Street and as I peered around the corner the exposure was sensational. You have to do a long stem across a gap with 2000 feet of air between your legs. At first I almost retreated and took a higher route, but everybody else was able to do the move, so I knew I could too. I stemmed across standing on a little nubin sticking out from the rock, and was safely across. Whew, I glad that was over, hoping the climbing didn't get much spookier than that.
In the photo below Steven is making his way
around the corner of Wall Street. This is the site of Glenn
Exum's leap of faith in 1931 that led to the discovery of the
Exum Ridge. Wall Street is the most exposed move of the Upper
From Wall Street you ascend up an easy picth
known as the Golden Staircase. From here, it's a short traverse
over to a gulley known as the Wind Tunnel. This section gots its name
since the wind get channeled through this gulley and can get extremely powerful. In
the photo below Linda and Steven are at the base of the Wind Tunnel.
From the top of the Wind Tunnel it's a short
scramble up to the Friction Pitch. Below I'm making my way up to the
We did a crack variation on the right side
of the Friction Pitch that Neil had discovered on a previous climb. We
decided to name this pitch Hurling Chunks in honor of Steven and Linda's
earlier puking experience. Below Neil is leading the way up Hurling Chunks.
Hurling Chunks was the most difficult of the pitches
on the route but very enjoyable. In the photo below I'm nearing the top of Hurling
Chunks. The Middle Teton Glacier can also be seen in the photo.
In the photo below a climber from another group
is making their way up the friction pitch. The friction pitch is
considering the crux of the Upper Exum route. Having not went this way
I can't say if it's more difficult than Hurling Chunks, but I do
know it's all friction climbing, hence the name. The
Middle Teton Glacier is in good view in the photo below.
From the top of the Friction Pitch it's some
more scrambling up the ridge until you finally reach the V-Pitch,
sometimes called the Open Book. Neil is leading on the V-pitch in the photo
below. This is one of the last rock-climbing pitches before the
Once past the V-pitch there is one last technical pitch
before the last scramble to the summit. The last scramble rejoins the Owen
Spalding route and is fairly straight-forward class 3 stuff. In the photo below
Neil(circled in yellow) is heading to the final summit block. The weather was detoriating rapidly
so we dropped our packs at this point and made a mad dash to the summit.
We made it finally. Twelve hours after we left
the tents we were on the roof of the Tetons at 13,770 feet. We
arrive and the summit at about 2 pm and didn't plan on staying long because of the weather.
We took some pictures and admired the views for a moment.
Neil and Steven showing off some muscle that got
them to the top of the Tetons. Many thanks to Neil for leading 2 rookies up to
the roof of the Tetons.
The photo below is Jenny Lake as seen from the summit. It is
partially obstructed by Teewinot.
This summit was very different than most. Being a Wyoming native
I felt very proud to know that such a beautiful peak resides in my state. I have gazed
upon the Tetons throughout my childhood and I had finally made it to the top. I had looked
upon the Grand from Jenny Lake many times, and now I was looking at Jenny Lake from the summit.
I wasn't allowed to reflect long though, the weather was coming fast and we had to descend.
We scrambled down to the first rappel point. There was another party already making
their way down so we waited about 20 minutes for them to descend. In the photo below Steven is rappeling
down the Sargent's Chimney.
It was a short hike over to the second longer rappel point. This was
requires you to tie to 2 climbing ropes together. The majority of this rappel is free which means
you are dangling in mid-air not touching the rock, very fun. Below Linda is making her way down this rap. At this point
the storm was closing fast and the wind picked up and began twirling Linda on the ropes. She got them untangled
and was able to make it down. It began snowing so we put on all our rain gear again. As quickly as the storm
blew in, it was gone and we took some time to gaze down the Black Ice Couliour. Maybe someday I'll come back and
try that route.
From here the descent follows the Owen Spalding route and is fairly straight-forward. In the photo
below the Lower Saddle is finally in site. Circled in red is the 2 Exum huts where the guided clients spend the night. If you are going to climb the Grand with Exum Guides, those huts in red will be your Hilton on the Saddle. We made it down to the saddle, filled up our water bottles, and chatted with
the Exum Guides for a little while.
Proceeding downward we finally made it back to camp around 10 p.m., 20 hours after we had departed for the
summit. We were too tired to cook dinner so we just crawled in the tent and hit the sack.
August 15th, 2001
We broke up camp around 10:30 am and hit the
trail back to the truck. We took our time and arrive around 3 pm.
It was off to Bubba's for some well deserved BBQ ribs.
The photo below is our best rendition of the hear
no evil, see no evil pose with the Middle Teton in the