Teton NP , WY. Road Trip – Day Ten Altitude did not go over well with my sick climbing partner who woke up resembling a bullfrog, sight and sound. The clouds looked foreboding and if we believed in any sort of premonitions we would have thrown in the towel after hearing rockfall akin to a [...]
Altitude did not go over well with my sick climbing partner who woke up resembling a bullfrog, sight and sound. The clouds looked foreboding and if we believed in any sort of premonitions we would have thrown in the towel after hearing rockfall akin to a .50 cal going off incessantly for five minutes, but instead we set out to the base of Lower Exum Ridge with well wishes from climbing parties calling it off for the day.
-> For a photograph of the start of Lower Exum Ridge, click here.
The weather held up for all but half of the first pitch, at which point it presented us with grapple and hail coming down and snow flying up intermixed with a little lightning to keep things exciting. All in all, a rather chilly endeavor that pushed the limits of climbing in sneakers and gloves.
Several hours later we arrived at the geological survey marker declaring we had indeed topped out on the Grand Teton. The view was spectacularly white, much what I imagine heaven may be like. Less the freezing temperatures and maybe a bit more dry.
Here in lies the beauty of topping out on your alpine route, you are now only halfway done. Thankfully the adjacent Owen-Spalding route is heavily trafficked and my climbing partner was here three years ago. This made route finding for our descent less arduous than it would have otherwise been, although involved an extra “surprise” rappel. It was very exciting for us to learn that the final standard rappel can be done with a single 70m rope (useful for those of you looking to cut weight – a la pull cord).
Two hours after topping out, we found ourselves back at the lower saddle eating more sausage and bread while discussing a possible revision in plans for tomorrow. The call was made to save the North Face Highlight Tour for another, significantly warmer, day and to peace out of this popsicle joint (literally, we were freezing). We hiked out to the land of hotels and restaurants, with plans to play tourists in Yellowstone NP and then begin our climbing relocation to Moab tomorrow. All that stood between these amazing plans and us was the 7.2-mile hike out from the Lower Saddle to the Lupine Meadows trailhead.
Location: Teton National Park, WY