ApproachGetting to the base of Mount Moran: Drive to the String Lake picnic area - from here you have two choices. Normally, the best and easiest way to the base of the mountain is to do a 90 minute canoe paddle across Leigh Lake to Leigh Canyon and the Falling Ice Glacier gulch. From String Lake picnic area, paddle to the north in String Lake until reaching the rapids on the north end. Do not enter the rapids. Instead, begin looking for the put-out on the right just before reaching the rapids. At the put-out, portage about a 100 yards to the north, following the signs. Once at Leigh Lake, paddle to the east side of Boulder Island if there is no wind. If it is extremely windy, a paddle on the west side of Boulder Island is preferable. After Boulder Island, follow the Leigh Lake shore until the west shore and the gulch below Mt. Moran comes into view. Head directly for the obvious talus filled creek below Falling Ice Glacier.
The other way is a tough 6-mile, counter-clockwise hike around Leigh Lake. First hike north for 3.5 miles, then west to the entrance to Leigh Canyon. The canoe across Leigh Lake is the recommended method and one can rent canoes in Jackson for about $40/day (Snake River Canoe and Kayak: 1-800-529-2501). Some years in late season, both String and Leigh lake water levels are low enough to allow a hike around the south and west banks of the lakes instead of a canoe paddle. Check lake conditions at Jenny Lake ranger station before attempting the lake crossing.
Getting To CMC Camp: To get to CMC camp at the base of the CMC Route head up the relentless, class-2, talus-filled gully below Falling Ice Glacier that hangs between the East and West Horns. The route is obvious, but stay to the left side of the gully to avoid a nasty moraine crossing up high. At first, follow the faint trail up the creek, but which eventually works its way to the left side of the gully. Do not follow the trail and creek all the way to the Falling Ice glacier. If you follow the creek to the top, you will have a difficult moraine crossing near the trail to the ridge. Once you've climbed about 2000 ft, notice a water-streaked cliff band on your left below a forested ridge. A small "Trails Closed" sign will greet you at the cliff band. Go left from the sign on a faint trail between the cliffs and follow it as it climbs and switchbacks its way up the ridge. A large moraine and campsites will be found at the top of the ridge. More camping spots exist about 100 yds further up the ridge.
Getting to the top of Drizzlepuss: Most parties will spend the night at the CMC Camp and get a pre-dawn start on the ascent to Drizzlepuss. If this is your plan it is strongly advised that you scope out the first section of this part of the hike in the daylight as it can be a bit tricky to find an easy route in the dark. From the upper CMC Camp follow the faint climbers trail up to the base of an awkward class 4ish chimney. Don't climb up the chimney but look for a weakness a bit to climbers right of the chimney and scramble upward for about 50 vertical feet until you reach a wide ledge. Follow this ledge up the gully for a hundred yards or so and look for a cairn. When you find the cairn scramble upward for a bit until you reach another bench. From there it is straightforward hiking up to the saddle between Drizzlepuss and the West Horn. From the saddle scramble up the ridge to the summit of Drizzlepuss. The hike from CMC Camp to the summit of Drizzlepuss might take you 1.5-2 hours.
Route DescriptionDescent from Drizzlepuss: Stand on top of Drizzlepuss and peer down to the notch. The downclimb from here looks very scary. Take heart, there is a slightly easier route. Scramble about 15-20 feet to your left and look for an easier downclimb. The first 10 feet are a little intimidating but after that you land on a reasonable ledge and from there you will scramble down from one ledge to the next working your way to the notch and the rappel station. About halfway between the top of Drizzlepuss and the notch you will find the chains of the rappel station. A single rope rappel will get you to the notch.
|For the rest of the description I will outline our pitches. Note that we were simulclimbing on 100m ropes. Thus our pitches ended when we ran out of protection. I believe we were probably doing 100m pitches, but results may vary. Also, I think it's entirely reasonable to free-solo the route. There were one or two places where the difficulty reached 5.4 but for the most part it was much easier. (If free-soloing you'd still probably want to carry ropes for the rappels during the descent.)|
P1: From the notch traverse below Ensoeld's Needle on mild, slabby terrain while you gain minimal elevation. At the end of the traverse you will cross a notch and then gain the face. Depending on rope length you may be able to climb a short way up the face.
P2: Work your way straight up the face. As you ascend you will encounter a steep headwall above you (during the descent you will rappel over this headwall). At this point begin to angle right across the face.
P3: Continue angling your way up and to climbers right on the face.
P4: The first part of this pitch crosses a near horizontal slab as you aim for a gully. You can either head straight up the gully or climb the face on the right side of the gully. The face on the right side of the gully looks to be a little more challenging.
P5: P4 will probably end near the top of the gully. Whenever you see a likely place to exit the gully climb up out of it to climbers right. This should put you on easier terrain where you can pack up your technical equipment.
Scramble to the summit: After P5 you can pack up your technical equipment and scramble to the summit. The remaining terrain on the face consists of small slabs split by vertical cracks and separating wide ledges. Scramble up this for several hundred vertical feet to the large summit plateau. Once you've reached the summit plateau it's an easy class-2 stroll past the Black Dike to the true summit.