Monday, August 13, 2012

East Ridge of the Grand

I started climbing in the Tetons when I was 16. It hasn't lost its allure. Over the years Zac and I have racked up a rather extensive Teton climbing resume. This summer we added one of the all time classics. The east ridge of the Grand Teton.

The east ridge of the Grand, while not technically very difficult, offers plenty of challenge. Intricate route finding, ample exposure, transitions between snow and rock, and nearly 4000 feet of climbing combine for a worthy goal. A promising weather forecast cemented our plans. A day after I arrived at the AMK our packs were on our shoulders and we were trudging uphill.

No alpine trip is complete without a dip in an icy lake. Ice still covered some of Amphitheater lake which made this swim memorable. Of all my climbing buddies Zac is the only one I can faithfully depend on to join me in this hallowed tradition. 

Invigoration Can Assume Many Different Expressions

 Zac Approaching the Base of the East Ridge

Break Time

 Alpine Flowers

We planned to climb the ridge over two days. There is something deeply rewarding about climbing self-sufficient for multiple days, traversing great distances of mountainous terrain, with everything on your back. Its a delicate balance to bring essentials while being light enough to ensure success. The simplicity is deeply rewarding. 

 Scouting a Route For the Next Morning

The first day we camped just below the first technical difficulties, about 1500 feet up the ridge. It was a tremendous afternoon/evening on the shoulders of the Tetons greatest peak.

 The Shadow of the Grand Teton Spilling Over the Valley Floor

 Moon and Gros Ventre Slide

 Top of Disappointment Peak

Teton Glacier Moraine




Waking Up


Alpenglow on the Molar Tooth. First Hurdle.

 Climbing To the Base of the Molar Tooth

Working Our Way Around the Molar Tooth

 Still Climbing around the Molar Tooth

The Molar Tooth is the first crux of the route and successfully traversing around this tower involves some intricate route finding. A short pitch of steep snow must be negotiated at the end of the traverse. As I was changing into my mountaineering boots I managed to drop my approach shoe into this icy couloir.

Mistakes tend to be final in alpine climbing and I watched helplessly as my shoe rocketed out of sight. Climbing teaches you resourcefulness. All rock encountered from this point forth was tackled with one approach shoe and one mountaineering boot. 

Zac Nearing the Top of the Steep Snow

Yours Truly

After negotiating the molar's tooth we scrambled for a few hundred feet until reaching the col at the base of the second tower. Some steep snow and plenty of exposure made for an exciting traverse around said tower.

 Zac at the Top of the Col

 Airy Traverse

Still Pumped

After negotiating the second tower we were on the east ridge snow field. Negotiating rotten snow and ice at the base of the snowfield proved more exciting than we expected. But soon we were cruising up the snowfield, with one of the more spectacular backdrops in the Tetons behind us.

Z Above the Second Tower

At the top of the snowfield we climbed more rock, and negotiated the last bit of snow before the summit.

Zac Nearing the Summit


 Forget Me Nots on the Descent

Garnet Canyon Sunset on the Hike Out

It was a long hike out to the car but a gorgeous evening invigorated our weary bodies. The next day we partook in the best rest day activity there is, fishing.

Yours Truly. Taking it Easy.



Here is a short video I put together...

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