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Chad_A

[TR] Grand Teton- Stettner Couloir

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Climb: Grand Teton- Stettner Couloir

 

Date of Climb: 5/26/06

 

Trip Report:

I'd been contacted by Keith, who was also interested in the Canadian Rockies, for fall climbs. We'd decided to get together before that, and climb something on the Beehive in Montana, to get me some mileage on some mixed climbing.

 

This past week, upon talking to a local in Montana, we had changed plans to the Tetons abruptly; turns out, the season has been a complete wash for climbing on the Beehive this year. Keith mentioned Stettner Couloir on the Grand, and so we set our sights on that. It sounded fun, but I didn't know much about the Teton(s) in general.

 

With an hour of sleep after working, I made the drive to Jackson, and met Keith at the Jenny Lake campground. The view of Teewinot was beautiful from our camp.

4625TeewinotSunset.jpg

 

 

The weather was forecasted to change Saturday, so we only had Friday to climb. We prepared the gear, and hit the sleeping bags for a wink or two of sleep before heading up. I was pretty beat.

 

At dusk, we were near the Lower Saddle. Here's the Middle Teton, and Keith, in the growing light.

4625MiddleTDawn.jpg

4625KeithDawn.jpg

 

 

We got separated on the scree field for a bit, but found each other soon enough, and climbed up to the col, where you downclimb and traverse to the base of the Couloir. I was feeling pretty miserable; the lack of sleep and the altitude was having it's way with me. Keith moved along without effort; I vowed to continue until we had a real reason not to. Here's a pic of the lower couloir.

4625LowerCouloir.jpg

 

 

The couloir was interspersed with steep snow and WI2. Or, AI2, whatever you would call it. It was blue, and refrozen water, in the alpine. After 700 ft of simul-solo vertical gain, we were near top of the couloir. Here's a pic of what lay ahead.

4625UpperCouloir.jpg

 

I had stayed a bit below Keith, and off to the side, to dodge the falling ice; later, I found out it wasn't his ice falling, but another party's, that was falling from a "bypass" pitch of ice (WI2) to get past the head of the couloir. I got up to him, and he had the anchor set. We got out the ropes, and he was ready to tackle the ominous pitch of ice. Here's a pic of the ice, and of the belay position, which was spectacular.

4625Ice-Keith.jpg

4625BelayPosition.jpg

 

After getting halfway up it, the ice turned out to be very wet, and the pillar wasn't as well attached at the top as he'd have liked, so he downclimbed and pulled the screws. He found a squeeze hole underneath a huge chockstone; this is the most interesting climbing I've ever seen. I wish I'd gotten a picture of it. He protected it with a #3 Camalot, and a red Alien. After some grunting and shoving his pack through the hole above him, he popped through, set up an anchor, and I cursed and groaned my way through it after him.

 

After this was an hour long suffer-fest to the summit; I've never postholed up to my ass at 13,000 feet before. Quite the workout. I didn't have the energy left to take a summit pic; I only wanted to get down before the weather came in. If Keith took a summit photo, I'll post it as soon as I have it. We followed another party down snowy ledges to the Owen-Spaulding descent. After two rappels (one single, one double) we were at the upper saddle.

 

Thankfully, Keith knew the descent down scree and postholing snow slopes, to traverse back around the mountain to get back to the lower saddle, and where we'd started. I can see someone getting lost, or off route here, if one weren't familiar. I felt bad that I hadn't had time to look into the descent info, but he didn't mind finding the way down. In hindsight, I could have figured it out; it simply a traverse to where you stared from. The hard part might be knowing where the rap stations are, if you haven't been there before.

 

On the way down the trail, there was one more treat to be had. As our minds were filled with thoughts of beer and pizza, a black bear stood in our way. Eventually, it meandered away, but none too soon. Hooray!

 

The next day, we were to climb on the Guide Wall to get in some rock, but the forecasted weather decided to come in. Even with weather over them, the Tetons are beautiful. My initial impression of the Grand is that it's similiar to Stuart, in that there's something on it for every type of climber. I'll be looking forward to going back!

4625TetonStorm.jpg

4625Flowerbackdrop.jpg

 

Thanks to Keith for being patient with a Cascadian climber's first time out there. blush.gifcrazy.gif

 

Approach Notes: The Lupine Meadows Trail is mostly melted out in the lower portions; the upper part is still under snow.

 

Gear Notes:Two tools, pons, some screws (almost used), small rack of cams and stoppers (used), half ropes.

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Nice work Chad! Damn, I'm feeling the internal rage for spending the weekend gardening, photographing rainbows, and knitting. cry.gif

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Nice work!

 

Ever climb "This House of Sky" in the Ghost? This one picture reminds me a bit of that climb....long, rambling, low angle fun in a narrow rock couloir....though I imagine the route overall isn't really like THOS at all....THOS also ends with a short steep ice pitch like Stettner Couloir seems to, however....

 

4625UpperCouloir.jpg

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Hey, Steve-

 

No, I haven't done This House of Sky, yet, but from what you describe, I'll bet that it isn't that far off, in general. I wish that the finishing pitch of WI would have gone, but it was prudent not to climb it. Maybe a week earlier and it could have been golden! bigdrink.gif

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Hey Chad,

You, dudes are fast! Nice work up there! thumbs_up.gif

The pictures are very cool. So, how much of actual rock

climbing did you have?

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Thanks, Oleg! We didn't have much rock climbing; just the part that bypassed the ice pitch. The couloir itself was a riot...fun, soloable ice. bigdrink.gif

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There's just about everything that you could possibly hope for on the Grand. Everything from good rock climbing, to ice; the Enclosure, a sub-peak of the Grand, has the Black Ice Couloir, which will probably come in this year, with the snowpack that they have. Also, a harder variation of that, with (what I'm told) reasonably difficult mixed climbing, Albrechts Alley, is right there, as well as the VisionQuest Couloir. The Black Ice is supposed to be the most straight forward steep snow and ice, followed by VisionQuest, and then the hardest rated is Albrechts.

 

The only thing I can see missing from the mountain is the usual snow slog; not such a bad thing. It's not a bad idea, from what I gather, to have climbed the Owen-Spaulding (5.4) route, so you'll know the descent. It's kind of a lengthy traverse from the Upper Saddle (the spot between the Enclosure and the Grand) from the west side of the mountain, to the south side of the mountain.

 

Once you're at the Upper Saddle, it's a scramble downwards, via scree covered ledges (and, this time of year, post holing snow slopes) to get down. I understand that it's much less pleasant of a descent once the snow is gone...and it wasn't that great with the snow present! Bleech! tongue.gif

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Oh, and I should add...the ice climbs actually come around later in the year. They're all snow climbs right now, although Stettner has ice in it. I'm told that most of the ice routes on the Enclosure come around in July. Maybe a bit earlier nowadays, with global warming 'n all.

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Nice TR Chad. Did you climb that thing car to car? If so, that's a pretty brutal day. Where exactly did the snow line start? I'm hoping to climb the Enclosure Couloir this summer and trying to get an idea as to when to do it. I was actually up in Beehive Basin skiing on Sunday. There didn't appear to be any ice, but the skiing was fun with a foot of heavy new snow. Not too bad for the end of May. Maybe things will work out better for you on the Beehive next time.

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Hey, Squirrel- Thanks for the compliment! I understand the ice never came in this year; Pete seemed to indicate that it's always iffy, but this year, it never came in.

 

Yes, by the way, we did it in a day. It was a long one, but it was made longer by the fact that a slower party was below us on the descent.

 

It's hard to tell when the ice will start forming up on the Enclosure- soon, the Jenny Lake climbing rangers will be there, and I'm sure they'll have good info on that.

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Thanks for the nice replies, gents. Knocking em out right and left? Ha! I feel like they're knocking ME out right and left hahaha.gif

 

The goal for the trip, namely the Beehive, was the goal to get me some experience on mixed stuff...alas, Stettner had nothing in it like that. Just a few rock moves, which Keith led. I imagine, later in the season, it might hold more ground of that type.

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