The trek began with all too
many switchbacks from a
lush valley into the familiar
sounds and scents of the
alpine. Trails become gravel
and air becomes light.
It wasn't long before the outstreched fingers
of the Tetons' many glaciers began reaching
down to greet us. On this small patch, no spikes or ice axes were needed, although we had them packed, unsure of what lie ahead.
The photo below depicts our first stop, which meant a welcome lunch and well timed sit under sloping boulders to avoid passing rains.
Gaining altitude quickly lead us towards the upper saddle in mid-afternoon, just as the sun peeked out to deliver some false hope of good weather. The path up was a steep and rocky 'summer trail' that avoided glaciers on both sides.
As we reached fixed lines leading up to the saddle, thunder and lightning cracked the sky open and we were met with heavy rains and hail. After assuming lightning safe position to wait out the storm, we were eventually greeted with reward and good tiding in the form of an alpine rainbow.
We reached the top of the saddle just before sunset, and were pleased to look west towards incoming good weather. This is where we would spend the first night.
The sunset over the Grand Tetons casts thier famous shape in a much lesser known veiw.
Changing out of cold, wet clothes and getting down on a hot meal is a feeling that will always have a place in my heart. Even better was the inspiration of the Grand's looming figure over our camp.
Extreme winds on the upper saddle led to some innovation whilst setting up camp- namely a technique I call 'boulder stacking.'
The photo above was taken in the middle of the night during a weather check, in anticipation of tomorrow's early start. The moutnain would be inattemptable with any weather systems nearby. Seeing the stars was a good sign.
Expedition leader surveying the route after an early morning start. The diagonal ledge seen on the right side is 'Wall Street,' our first landmark goal.
After several hours pitching out and simulclimbing up Exum Ridge, we conquered 'Boulder Problem in the Sky,' the most technical move on the route. This led us up onto the summit ridge, only a few easy steps from the true summit, pictured right.
After sumitting, it's race back down before runnign into the inevitable foul weather. Luckily, there are two sizeable rappels on 'Owen Spalding,' our descent route, which tends to speed things up a bit.
Besides weather, one of the most common dangers up here is getting off route. Thankfully, we stayed close to all mapped objectives during our climb. However, on the way down, we did end up on the 'winter trail,' which required some light glacial corssings.
We encountered more heavy storms on the way down to lower elevation, which forced another unplanned stop. Despite this, we made it to 'The Meadows' with time to cook dinner before sunset. This photo was taken about five feet from where my tent was set for that night. Sleep Well!