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Rainier vs. The Tetons?

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Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby regolithe » Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:21 pm

I've had a bit of a good-spirited running debate with some of my buddies over which specific mountaineering objective would be harder. Car to car solo of Disappointment Cleaver on Rainier, or car to car solo of all three Tetons (Grand, Middle, South) via Owen Spalding on the Grand then the north ridge of the Middle? Here's the backstory: I have lots of Teton mountaineering experience and they have lots of Rainier and Pacific Northwest experience, which has produced our (obvious) biases. I have never climbed Rainier, they have never climbed in the Tetons.

So, here are the stats:

Rainier via Disappointment Cleaver:
Peak Elevation 14410
Elevation Gain: 9000+
Mileage Round Trip: 18+
Primary Technical Challenge: glacier travel, crevasses

Teton Traverse:
Peak Elevation: 13,770
Elevation Gain: 10,300+
Mileage Round Trip: 19+
Primary Technical Challenge: low grade (5.5-5.6) technical rock climbing and big exposure

Obviously, comparing these is a little bit of an apples and oranges situation, since each is very different from the other. On paper, they're fairly similar. The Tetons have the edge in total elevation gain and mileage, but Rainier wins in elevation above sea level, and probably presents more weather-related challenges.

I'm talking about taking everything into effect: physical endurance, requisite skill, mental toughness, overall exposure to total cumulative hazards etc... All that being said... Which is would be more difficult? Personally, I say the Teton traverse, but I've never climbed Rainier. Obviously, they claim Rainier, but we both agree that it's a close race. Remember, either must be done in a single calendar day.

Thoughts?
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Re: Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby crshortt » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:53 pm

I'm not at all an experienced climber - more a hiker and scrambler. I have, nevertheless, been up both Rainier via Emmons Glacier (a 10,000' gain) and the Grand via Exum Ridge (a 7,000'? gain). I agree they are very different experiences and I can't pick a favorite (having been to both parks three times), let alone decide which is tougher. One thing that may affect the way Rainier feels though is that, despite the route you mention being "only" a 9,000' gain, that is all pure elevation gain above the starting point. The Grand is "only" 7,000' above the starting point, with the other two peaks being lower. Even though the cumulative total for them is more, that extra 2,000' of un-acclimated pure elevation gain in one day is going to have an impact that may negate the total gain advantage for the Teton peaks. Doesn't answer the question, but it does bring up another variable you may not have considered.
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Re: Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby BigMitch » Tue Sep 17, 2013 2:49 am

They are both great, but completely different animals.

Why don't you do both with your buds and talk about over a nice dinner and a few beers?

When you are done, then do a traverse of the Picket Range!
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Re: Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:03 am

BigMitch wrote:
When you are done, then do a traverse of the Picket Range!


I'll make a bold statement here and say that a full traverse of the North and South Pickets is an alpine climbing challenge unparalleled in difficulty in the contiguous United States. Jens Holsten and Chad Kellogg came very close to doing it this summer. http://jensholsten.blogspot.com/2013/07 ... nment.html

View of part of the Southern Pickets from Mt. Triumph.

Image
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Re: Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby BigMitch » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:37 am

Pure porn!
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Re: Rainier vs. The Tetons?

Postby jmeizis » Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:03 am

I've climbed the Grand a couple times and climbed Shuksan in the Cascades so I'll give you my opinion based on limited experience. A lot is going to depend on the time of year. If you head to Rainier when there are good snow bridges then it will probably be a hair easier than the Teton linkup purely because it's pretty much just snow slogging. On the other hand if you headed up say a couple weeks ago I'd call the Tetons easier because the glacier difficulties on Rainier will involve a lot more end running of crevasses and lots of glacier shenanigans which add on more mileage and elevation gain than looking at a map or route description would suggest. A lot more objective hazards as well.

I just had my first Cascade experience a couple weeks ago. It was kind of a gnarly introduction as we did the N. Ridge of Shuksan and carried over to the Fisher Chimneys. Basically I am really well acquainted with that particular peak now. I found it significantly more challenging than any other climbing I've done which includes many ascents of Colorado 14ers including technical routes like The Diamond and Ellingwood Ledges, winter technical ascents like Alexander's Chimney, ice climbs on Pikes Peak, full Exum Ridge, OS, and other stuff. So I'm not a slouch but all the glacier crap kicked my butt!
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