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[TR] Grand Teton National Park - Various 7/30/2007

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Trip: Grand Teton National Park - Various


Date: 7/30/2007


Trip Report:

A week or so ago (7/22-8/2) I was fortunate enough to join some friends on their annual trip to the Tetons. We were visiting Andy, a climbing ranger my buddies had met in college and had been visiting for about thirteen years. This was my first time to the park, and I was stoked.


I made the drive out with Tasha and Danielle uneventfully. The day after our arrival was the annual "Whiskey Tasting" at Andy's cabin; the blind taste test selected Cragganmore as the favorite. The location of the cabin was pretty sweet, with views of Teewinot directly above and a rad swimming hole in Cottonwood Creek about 50 yards away.




As the full crew trickled in over a few days (me, Tasha, Trevor, Quinn, Matty here for climbing, Danielle and Amanda for other activities) the weather remained less than stellar. Rather than intermittent afternoon showers, we experienced more persistent rainstorms. Since climbing wasn't really an option, we spent a few days backpacking, hiking, cycling, swimming, and (gasp!) sport climbing at some local crags. We were all looking forward to the weather clearing....


The locale was amazing, with sweet alpine canyons to explore; South Fork Cascade Canyon



NOAA forecasted a high pressure system moving through, so we planned a day in the mountains. The crew I was with had together climbed most every major peak in the park, though not everybody had climbed all of the "classic" routes. We chose the Durrance Ridge on Symmetry Spire for our first outing (II 5.6 10,560').


Tasha, Trevor, Quinn and I headed across Jenny Lake on the boat shuttle just after 7am. A hour or two later and we were nearing the base of the route. A few pics of the formation:


Symmetry Spire is the leftmost formation



Durrance Ridge is the right skyline in the foreground



Trevor and Quinn roped up and headed out. Trevor just off the deck gaining the initial ridge line:



Tasha and I followed soon after. She took first lead, and we climbed maybe ~75m with a bit of simul-climbing. Here's a shot looking down route at the top of p2:



About 500' up there's a short, steeper wall with a fun crack leading to easy climbing further up the ridge.




At this point our fortunes began to change. Because the route faces mostly southeast, we weren't able to see weather systems rolling in until they were above us; our bluebird day rapidly became overcast as the expected afternoon thundershowers moved in earlier than expected (before noon). As I reached the top of p4 maybe 700' up, I got caught in pissing rain and hail (luckily no lightning). After everyone got together, we made the decision to bail and rap off. Of course, as we headed down the weather cleared and we rapped into a sunshine-filled valley. We left a few pieces of gear behind for two double-rope rappels and some downclimbing. It was raining again on the hike out.


The next evening we packed up and hiked up to the Meadows, a large boulder field strewn out below the Grand Teton. We woke at 2 AM and were underway at just about 3 o'clock. Tasha and Matty (our crew's ropeguns) were planning to do the Lower Exum Ridge and maybe do the Complete Exum; Trevor, Quinn and I were planning on the Upper Exum Ridge (II 5.4 13,770') which they had done multiple times before. We made the saddle just before 5 AM and began the scramble to Wall Street by light from the full moon.


Wall Street, just before sunrise



We roped up here, with Trevor tied into the middle. I got the first lead, did the step across and the Golden Staircase, then began cruising up the ridgeline.


Looking down towards the top of the Golden Staircase



The climbing was easy but fun, with spectacular views.

Quinn and I swapped leads simulclimbing whenever our miniature rack ran out.



This mountain and route are exeptionally popular with guided parties and we passed and got passed by a few groups:


Brief clusterfuck halfway up the route



Quinn had the final block leading up to the summit, and did a variation climbing "The Horse" which led to a sharp ridge-crest, rather than block ledges to the summit. We climbed the 1500' route in four pitches and about 3 1/2 hours.


The exposed crest of the Horse:



We enjoyed a quick lunch on the summit, mostly by ourselves and then headed down. Two single-rope rappels and a bunch of down climbing led us down to the Upper Saddle where we met up with Tasha and Matty. They gushed about the Lower Exum for a while but decided not to go for the Complete Exum and we all headed down together.


The Exum Ridge starts from Wall Street more than halfway up the main face in this picture (traversing in from the left) and then nearly follows the right skyline to the summit.



Again, because of an iffy forecast, we bagged our alpine climbing plans for the next day and headed out. Another day of sport climbing with Tasha and my week was up and it was time to head home :cry:


Sunset over Teewinot



Parting shot of the Grand and Teewinot leaving the park



I had an amazing time and am looking forward to next year. The park seems to hold unlimited potential, with big alpine routes as well as stiff "alpine cragging." The weather was suboptimal this year, but usually you can bag a route every day if you're motivated and fit (I was the former, not so much the latter). The climber's Hostel is supposed to be pretty nice and is affordable if you want to stay in the Park, rather than with all of the Tourons in Jackson Hell.


Approach Notes:

Caffeine was crucial and we all brought our favorite gear (I'm sure you can appreciate this shot, John) :rawk:



Sorry for the verbal assault and mindless chatter....still stoked from the trip. If you haven't been--go!


Gear Notes:

Small rack unless you're a hardman and want to climb real rock routes








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Way to represent with the PNW roasted beans!!! Nobodys "jank'in" our style!!! A trip to the tetons and the winds would be nice....seems like a good time.

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Caffeine was crucial and we all brought our favorite gear (I'm sure you can appreciate this shot, John) :rawk:



With that kind of fire power you should have just climbed at night and avoided the t storms all together ;)


then again whiskey + stumptown = serious toilet time :mistat:


dont temp John w/ the devils brew


Unless of course I am the devil and then it would be my brew :eveeel:

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:laf: :laf: :laf:


I made a deal with the devil (myself?!?!) that for every cup of coffee I drink I have to do 3 muscle ups consecutively. Seems like a fair trade...


Are you zoning it yet?

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Nice TR!


Was there water on the approach? Trying to figure out the logistics since I may be doing Exum next week.


Thanks for the pics and the stoke.

Edited by lightD

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There are two places to get fresh water on the approach (from springs....we didn't treat this and so far I haven't had any GI explosions). The one lower down is to the left of the trail near the Platforms, where the park is currently doing some campsite maintenance. Just below the saddle, to climber's left there's a small creek fed by a hose (!)...this should be clean water as well. There's no water on the route, but if you tank up at the saddle you'll be fine.


Have fun!

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Thanks for the photos! The Durrance route on Symmetry was the first route I ever climbed in the West. Prior to that I was an east coast only boy. We climbed the Durrance route on Symmetry and on the drive back to school (Virginia) stopped and climbed the Durrance route on Devil's Tower. Great memories - and classic routes!

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