Ascent of Grand Teton on 2013-08-18

Climber: Curtis Bowden

Others in Party:Greg Mu
Joel and Jefferey DeBlaay
Date:Sunday, August 18, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Grand Teton
    Elevation:13770 ft / 4197 m

Ascent Trip Report

After two months of "peak a week" challenges in the Tetons and Gros Ventres, my good buddy, Greg Mu, from the Virgin Islands came through the area. My other good friend, Jefferey was visiting from Michigan. Greg had already been up the Grand via the Owen-Spaulding route twice, and knew it well. Joel and I have wanted to do this peak for awhile, but from lack of trad gear were prevented from attempting. Greg came through with experience, knowledge of the route, and trad gear.

In classic Joel-and-Curtis fashion, we decided to do it light and fast - every ounce counts! So we sorted and divided the gear between four packs, all around 20 litres. We each brought one water bottle and a summit sandwich, along with a few random bars and a Teton Ale by Grand Teton Brewing Company...for the summit suds of course! Why mountaineer when you can mountainbeer? We took harnesses, a light trad rack, two belay devices, layers, and a water purifier.

We woke up EARLY the next morning. We arrived at Lupine Meadows TH by 6am and were off by 615. We took the standard trail up to the Meadows (I'm so tired of this hike! I must've done it 8 times that summer...). Upon arriving at the Meadows, we took a ten minute snack break and enjoyed the sunrise. Then we headed right/north/toward the Lower Saddle. On the way up, you pass a clean stream. This is your last water source until the summit, so we refilled our bottlers here. Upon arriving at the Lower Saddle, we minimized gear. We snacked again, and left two bags and some clothes for an even lighter summit push. At this point, to decrease weight, we also wore our harnesses.

We scrambled all the way to the Upper Saddle and took a quick break in front of the legendary Belly Crawl pitch, the first class V (5.4) section of the OS. Its a ~25 foot traverse that is SUPER in, 1500+ foot total drop beneath you. You can crawl through a little notch in the rock (hence the name), or you can hand-over-hand traverse with your feet exposed to the drop and on decent but slopey footholds. At this point, assessing our situation, we decided to not use the gear, committing to solo the pitch one at a time for the sake of time, adrenaline, and a good story. High risk high reward, right? We did this with great ease, but it was certainly mentally demanding.

After this pitch, we ended up on a large ledge that wasn't nearly as exposed. At the base of Sarge's Chimney, we once again decided to solo up the 5.4ish pitch instead of breaking out gear and roping up. This took significantly less time and was extremely manageable, as well as fun. It was also much less exposed than the Belly Crawl pitch.

After passing a couple of groups rappelling off the fixed anchors, we soon found ourselves on the summit - significantly warmer than the whole section between the Lower Saddle and the summit! We killed our summit sandwiches, took pictures, drank a brew, and laid down and just basked in sunny satisfaction for about 45 minutes.

Since we had the gear, we rappelled from the fixed anchor stations. Two soloers downclimbed just as quickly as it took for us to unpack our gear, use it, and pack it up, but the rappel was really fun and provided beautiful views of the canyon and Idaho. We booked it all the way back, making it back to Signal Mountain Lodge just in time for dinner. My knees were so sore for the next few days!

Parking lot to parking lot was 11.5 hours. Summer 2014 I want to do sub-10.

It is a worthy summit, but most of the ascent is just brutal class II hiking...wicked steep and so lengthy. The Belly Crawl pitch is incredible, especially soloed, but the chimney isn't anything special. For that reason, I did not rate the ascent quality very high. Many other peaks and routes in the Tetons, while less known, are much more enjoyable. But I'll always be glad I did this, and I will never forget it!
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Easy Grade V (5.4)
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Absolutely beautiful and quite clear at the top

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