My Grand Teton climbStephan and I were looking for something to climb since we had finished in the Beartooth Mountains for the season. 5 weeks in the Beartooths and we decided to finish next season. I had done research on the Grand Teton but the thought that we can climb it didn't occur to me until halfway into the trip. I didn't even have any rock pro yet but we decided it would be a great way to finish the trip before Stephan returned to Texas. So we initially planned to climb it in two days but the good weather window was only going to last one more day before more monsoon moisture moved in. We certainly didn't want to get stuck up there in a storm and knowing we were beginners, we knew it would take quite awhile to climb. We planned on the standard Owen-Spalding route and decided to do it in one long day. We managed to stop at the Teton Mountaineering store right before they closed to buy some cams and draws. Stephan had a 70 meter rope so we were ready to go. We spent over an hour in the Albertsons Parking lot in Jackson that evening organizing gear and packing. We drove to the trailhead that evening and by 11pm we only had time for a few hours of sleep since we had to start up the trail at 3am.
We saw a few other parties start shortly before us and with all the other cars at the trailhead we knew it was going to be a busy day on the mountain. So we got on out way hiking up the trail in the dark. It was a very warm night and we quickly had to take layers off. We could smell the smoke from all the forest fires in the vicinity so I didn't expect to see good views on this climb but I wasn't too concerned since this was going to be my first 5th class alpine climb and I was more than fully excited. Right as the sun rose we reached the boulder field at the end of the maintained trail. We scrambled the short boulder field and found the well established boot path heading up to the low saddle. Along the way we passed by many people camping and once we reached the low saddle, we talked briefly with a couple rangers and other climbers. We ditched stuff we didn't need and started up towards the upper saddle. It was easy at first but quickly turned into some fun third class scrambling all the way to the upper saddle. We had caught up with a father/son joined with other friends where they were guiding the 12 year old boy up the mountain. Boy I wish my parents did that!
We reached the upper saddle and prepared for the technical climbing. Stephan was going to lead the climb and after a short wait at the start of the belly crawl we made our way across which ended up being the most exposed part of the climb. We got the the base of the first chimney and made our way up. The climbing was actually really easy and there was a large ledge between the two chimneys. Once we climbed the second chimney we left the rope and finished the scramble to the summit where I really got excited. Although we couldn't see much more than a bunch of smoke, this was a huge moment for me in my mountaineering career. I had just climbed my first alpine 5th class climb and it was also Stephans' first too. Many people had summitted before us since they all had camped the night before. When we arrived at the summit we had it to ourselves. Shortly after though a group of three came up from the Exum Ridge and they were all very happy to be there. We exchanged photos and stories and sat up and relaxed at the summit on a bluebird day for a half hour. I believe it was about 1pm when we reached the top and I remember texting my buddy Matt I was at the top. He would climb the Grand only 2 weeks later.
So we made the scramble back to the rope and made 2 35 meter rappels back to the upper saddle and made the long scramble and hike back to the car. What a beautiful climb despite it being very busy it was perfect.