Road Tripping: Grand Teton Approach

Beep, beep, beep at 4am really makes you think twice about last night’s bedtime decision.

Twenty minutes later with a really bad cup of coffee in hand, I found myself back in the passenger seat for the final leg of our drive to Grand Teton NP. A nice five hour time warp later, I am loading up on summer sausage, cheese and artesian bread (“planned dinner” for the next two days) at a local market in Jackson Hole, WY.

The Grand Teton Range - Thrillseekers Anonymous

Next stop, the Grand Teton NP visitor center to secure backcountry permits for the lower saddle from which to launch attempts on the full Exum Ridge and the North Face Highlight Tour of the Grand Teton. After passing our “permit test” which assessed our knowledge of where you can sleep, poop, light things on fire, etc., the ranger so kindly gifted us a permit and four shiny and new wagbags (a double-sealed sanitation kit), in light of the now removed toilet at the lower saddle.

Great, now the only thing standing between the lower saddle and us was a grueling 7.2-mile approach with a 5,800 vertical foot gain. Us being quantitative nerds did a little math and this turns out to be an average incline angle of 8.8°. But to be more realistic, the first mile of the approach was flat. So it’s closer to 10.2°. Either way, it’s a lot of work with 40 pounds of climbing and camping gear on your back.
NOTE: I included calculations in bottom of post for any fellow nerds.

Garnet Canyon to The Lower Saddle, Grand Teton National Park - Thrillseekers Anonymous Garnet Canyon to The Lower Saddle, Grand Teton National Park - Thrillseekers Anonymous

4.2 miles in, where the maintained Garnet Cyn trail ends we stopped and ate a days quota of our bread and sausage. Fully energized for the remaining 3 miles, my climbing partner sheepishly mentions that he forgot to pack half the food, the three pounds of gummy bears. This being a huge deal, because although fancy, sausage and bread isn’t exactly easy to throw down your throat while climbing at altitude.

Accepting the fact that we will be very hungry climbers and operating at an insufficient caloric intake, we press on and eventually find ourselves at the Lower Saddle. Here we find the most wind protected spot and set up home sweet home, our campsite.

Trail Incline Calculations:

sin^(-1)((5800\/5280)\/7.2)= 8.8° sin^(-1)((5800\/5280)\/6.2)= 10.2°

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Ilana is a native of Southern California. She is an accomplished rock and ice climber and is the brains behind Thrillseekers Anonymous. Currently residing in Colorado, she is a Registered Surgical/Trauma Nurse, who can be found leading her own adventures on days off. Ilana is a sponsored athlete with GoMacro, WoolX, and an Arcteryx Denver ambassador. She has been featured in various media outlets including the February 2015 issue of ‘Climbing’ magazine, December 2013 issue of ‘Rock and Ice’ magazine, December/January 2013 issue of ‘Gripped Climbing’ magazine, Canyoneering: A Guide to Techniques for Wet and Dry Canyons (How To Climb Series) by Dave Black and Pasadena Magazine as well as a Climbing Expert on MTV’s Parental Control (Season 7 – “Heather”).

Ilana has written 110 articles for Thrillseekers Anonymous.

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