An account of our ascent of the Grand Teton in GTNP, Wyoming via the Lower and Upper Exum Ridge.
8:45pm, Aug 12, Denver:
Climbing trips are best executed “disaster style”. This means we left Denver after work and drove all night fueled by Red Bull and Ratatat.
5:00am, Aug 13, an hour outside GTNP:
… Until we couldn’t do any longer and gave into the overpowering desire to sleep … for 2 hours.
9:30am, Aug 13, Jenny Lake Ranger Station:
With our backcountry permits in-hand, let the duffel shuffle begin!
12:00pm, Aug 13, Lupine Meadows Trailhead:
We hitched a ride with some kind Coloradoan to the TH and began the slog.
6:30pm, Aug 13, Morainal Camping Zone (Basecamp):
After a lot of plodding with 50+ pound packs uphill, we finally arrived at our windy, alpine basecamp. We willed our bodies to sleep in anticipation for the big day tomorrow.
4:00am, Aug 14, warm sleeping bags:
Whipping wind, cold oatmeal, instant coffee.
5:30am, Aug 14, leaving Basecamp:
Approach from the Moraines to the Lower Saddle. Our biggest challenge was staying upright. One Exum guide we encountered on the Lower Saddle said that particular morning was, “the windiest he had ever seen”.
7:00am, Aug 14, bottom of 4th-class ramp to start Lower Exum:
Following our friends’ beta to the pink cairn built atop a black rock (thanks Ali and Tatiana!), we began to solo up the 4th class ramp to P1 of the Lower Exum route.
Then finally, the fun begins! I took all the odd pitches, Kenny took the even pitches: P1 – 5.6 face variation; P2 – forgettable 5.5; P3 – start atop a big block and launch into some techy 5.7; P4 – heinous chimney; P5 – The Black Face the absolute highlight of the entire climb: amazing exposure, technical movement to perfect holds; P6 – slippery quartzite handcrack.
Simul-time! Myself leading, Kenny following. Up the Golden Staircase to the Wind Tunnel. Up the chossy gully instead of the Friction Pitch (woops). Rejoining the route below the V Pitch, Kenny takes the lead and launches onto the runout slab just below the large boulder mid-pitch. We take the rope for a walk, free solo to the summit.
3:30pm, Aug 14, Summit of the Grand:
At 13,775 feet with Kenny, Jesse (a Kiwi), Sam (an Aussie), Briar and Colton (Utahns). We had the pleasure of keeping pace with this fun group from start to finish – a brief summit party ensued.
6:00pm, Aug 14, Lower Saddle:
A few rappels and a knee-wrenching descent down the Owen Spalding with our rag-tag crew: we arrived back at the Lower Saddle and parted ways.
7:30pm, Aug 14, hot dinner incoming at Basecamp:
Dehydrated spaghetti never tasted so good. Back to the warm sleeping bags.
10:30am, Aug 15, starting the hike out through Garnet Canyon:
We said goodbye to the little alpine home and launched into the quad-intensive descent.
3:30pm, Aug 15, exiting Lupine Meadows Trailhead:
With wobbly legs and plenty of stoke, we made it!
5:00pm, Aug 15, BURGERS:
… and a victory milkshake.
6:00pm, Aug 15, leaving Jackson, WY:
A disaster-style introduction to the trip, a disaster-style ending to the trip. 80 mph speed limits across rural Wyoming, more Ratatat.
2:00am, Aug 16, arrive in Denver (aka Promised Land of showers and sheets):
Kenny took the last brutal leg of the drive, we make it home to wash the dirt from our ankles and climb into our beds.
Rinse and repeat. Now I’m off to the Wind River Range tonight!