The Grand Teton
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.
The newby has fallen and he can't get up
Teewinot is a fun scramble, easy to do in a day since there is not much of an approach. The trail is a steep bugger though for the East Face. My first trip up Teewinot in 2006 was with an old college roomate. It was his first big summit and we forgot a camera. We atleast saw the view from the summit. There was a fifty something year old gentleman from Colorado that had a Total hip replacement a year prior and this was his first big mountain since his surgery. I'm a physical therapist and I have used his story to many patients to inspire them to get off their butt and get back to living.
My second climb was in the snow and my neighbor who had never done a snow climb joined us. He was a bit out of shape and got the 20 second training blip on self arresting with an ice axe. Unfortunately, the snow did not freeze over night and we were postholing most of the way up. We made it up to the gully where it narrows and gets real steep on rock. The snow ended and a cool waterfall was gushing down. We exited to climbers right on the wet rock and anchored Eron while I tried to move up and get back on snow. It was getting late and the snow was too soft to set any anchors. We made the call to start the descent. The snow was perfect for a gnarley glissade but our new guy was a little nervous. We did a bunch of rappels, staying primarily on the rock islands and only had to bounce across small sections of snow most of the way down. At the bottom of the last rock, we roped up and started walking down. Eron fell at one point when his downhill foot sunk deeper than usual and needed a little help getting up.
When we finally arrived at the truck, Eron's feet were blistered beyond anything I'd seen before. He said he would join us for a rock climb but he was done with snow.
Nez Perce behind Nearing the summit Heading down the snowfield to exit South Garnet with the dome behind
New climbing partner, new summit. I had been up the south fork of Garnet but not up to the south to approach Cloudveil. Steve had been up The Grand a few weeks earlier and took a few pictures of our approach. It looked like we might have to cross a few snowfields. I've been on probably as many snow climbs as I have been on rock and felt fairly comfortable without crampons with the slope not being very steep. Steve on the other hand didn't really like the snow and had better rock shoes than anything that would get a grip on snow. After a few falls but no loss in elevation, we were back on rock and scrambling on. The second snow field was a bit tougher, steeper, and harder to get off of, but we made it again. The scramble to the col off the east ridge was long and monotonous. We geared up and away we went. The climbing was simple with the exception of two short pitches. I scooted right on a short friction pitch and when I belayed Steve up, I pulled the rope a little tight and he had to go straight up and over a slight overhang instead of around the corner on the friction slab. He was excited that he got to test his climbing skills as the route was supposed to be class 4. I think those two short pitches were definitely fifth class but on the way down, we decided it probably would have been fourth if we would have gone to climber's right a bit more. The hike out was grueling but we made it in around 14 hours. Not bad for Steve's first non-guided climb. As for any Teton summit, the view was spectacular and the thought of having to descend was a bit depressing. The best part of the trip besides the summit view of course, was Steve let me sleep for a good hour or more on our 3 hour drive home. I guess it will be my turn to drive next time. Yipee!
Mt. Moran, our first water start. The paddling across String and Leigh Lakes was a nice rest for the legs and backs since our packs were balanced in the middle of the canoe. The slug up the drainage was steep to say the least. Camp was in a beautiful little treed area with majestic views of the Cathedral group to the south.
Upper CMC face with Hanging Glacier below
Mt. Moran is the first major peak when traveling south from Yellowstone. The obvious black dike seen on the southeast side runs through most of the range and can be seen from the summit running west. The CMC is a fun, straight forward route put up by the Chicago Mountaineering Club in the 40's. The bolt for their Tyrolean traverse can still be found on Unsoeld's Needle. I guess they did not want to climb back up Drizzlepuss on the descent.
Out on the CMC face, after the first pitch, Matt decided he wanted to downclimb nearly to the glacier so he "accidently" dropped his ATC. It was quite humerous watching it bounce down the face . . . almost stop, then bounce some more. It did finally stop just prior to the glacier and within a single rope's length. We did 5 or so pitches, Matt even got to try his first lead, and we unroped up near the top where the angle of the rock lessens.
It was nice and warm on the huge, rounded summit. We ate lunch, visited with the other two teams, and started heading down. One of the guys in the guided group dropped a Nalgene bottle down the chute next to the black dike and it looked like it might bounce clear to the glacier. The other group knocked a boulder down that rolled right between Matt and I. I was elated when it bounced over the rope. On our last rappel at the bottom of the face, our rope hung up. Another team wasn't too far above us so we waited for them to unsnag it for us.
Back in the notch, getting ready to ascend Drizzlepuss, Matt decided to drop his ATC again. This time, it was bouncing toward me and I was able to grab it before it launched off a 500' cliff to the west of the notch. I'm a slow leader so the other teams sat and watched us go back up Drizzlepuss. Man, was I glad when that was over.
When we got back to camp, we ate quickly and headed for the canoe. We were starting to worry about it getting dark before we got off the water. We atleast made it accross Leigh Lake and the portage to String before darkness set in. We even pulled out 100m early when we saw the first beach on our left where we thought it might be.
We decided to sleep in the next morning and to a quick jaunt up Teewinot the next day. It was nice to have Moran under our belts and the canoe strapped to the top of the car.