Standing on the Teton Glacier On the East Ridge above the Koven Coulior
Beware of bears. We camped between Suprise and Ampitheater Lakes and saw 7 bears within 200' of our tent. The approach for the Koven Couloir is beautiful. Especially walking across the Teton Glacier. What a beautiful cirque! The Koven was easy scrambling. We finally roped up on the upper Koven when we hit snow and broke out crampons and axes. The snow was hard and this was my first experience on steep snow with soft approach shoes and crampons. I missed my mountaineering boots. Needless to say though, the snow tongue was short. Soon enough we were back on rock and moving along. At the top of the Koven, a solo climber was walking across the top of the snow that dropped steeply off the north side of the coulior just below the East Prong. I tried to be quiet so I didn't startle him until he got off the snow at least. He was quite startled when I said hello. He had some intense concentration crossing that terribly exposed snow. I wish I'd have seen him downclimb the East Prong. That would have been rockin.
As we started up the East Ridge, we realized that I left the route description in the car. We did our best to follow the general direction of the soloer well left of the huge chimney waterfall. The ledges were great but wet and unfortunatally, I got the rope a little zig zagged. It was a little tough to pull through. The next part was fun. We were able to stay below the snow and work our way up to the chimney just off the south side of the summit block. I was a bit nervous since this was my first big mountain lead but the climbing was actually quite easy and we quickly made it up to the summit.
It was a warm day on top with an excellent view of the North Face of the Grand. We could see climbers ascending the snow field on what must be the East Ridge. We tried to zoom in with our little digital cameras but they didn't do them justice. About this time, two climbers came up the south side of the summit block. We were a bit suprised to see them come up right there. Their first question was if there was an easier way. We pointed to the large chimney and they seemed relieved that the trip down might be a bit better.
We ended up doing several rappels down with the other team of double ropes. That allowed us to gain more distance with each rap but also increased the time on each one since there were now four instead of two. The young guy from Colorado was running out of gas over the moraines so we hung back to make sure they hit the ledge to get back up to Ampitheater Lake. They had come up over Teewinot and didn't know the way back. We finally made it back to the ledge but it was already dark so we broke out the headlamps again.
The next morning we saw two bears in the middle of the camping area. The cub was banging on the food box and mama bear was over sniffing out another groups bivy. One guy's sleeping bag was on the ground and the bear kept walking across it trying to find some food. Luckily, she didn't find any and they finally moved on so we could get our food out of the box and head for the car.
Another end to a wonderful climb, my first big lead. It was a long summit day. Hopefully, we'll get faster so we don't have to start and end the day in headlamps. It's great to see my family when I get home but as always, I look forward to our return to the mountains.
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