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Grand Teton Trip Report


Original Post
Garrett Collier · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 25

Hey All, 

Here's my trip report and a few photos from my recent attempt on The Grand.

Day One: We started off on the seven mile, 5000 vert. ft. hike from the trailhead to the Lower Saddle along good, casual trails. Our early season start date of June 6th combined with a year of heavy snowfall, meant 100% snow above roughly 9000 feet. This was not a problem along the low slope angles of most of the hike, but would come to define our ascent later on.  After passing the Meadows, the terrain became much steeper, and travel slowed considerably.  The snow here was soft and slushy, and kicking steps in the steep slopes took considerable time.  Additionally, my climbing partner had never hiked with a pack in these conditions, so a considerable amount of time building confidence and experience. By the time we reached the Morraine, it was nearing 7pm, so we made camp, leaving the last headwall to the lower saddle for the morning.

 
 

Day Two:  We ascended the last headwall to the Lower saddle, and start up The Grand. Due to our slower than expected pace, we decided to adjust our plan, and attempt just the Upper Exum, instead of the complete Exum Ridge. As we headed around the NW side of the ridge, toward Wall Street, we once again encountered steep snow.  Here the conditions were varied, but for much of the route a crust had developed over much softer snow, leading to deep postholing.  Routefinding was difficult, and also contributed to a slow pace. We crossed and recrossed the large gully past the Needle, which makes sense as a summer route, but in the conditions we experienced, was not the ideal path.  Heading straight up around the base of the Needle would have been much quicker and easier.  Eventually, and with great relief, we approached the base of Wall Street, which would mark the beginning of roped climbing on the exposed ridge. Unfortunately, by this point, is was late enough in the day, that we were forced to turn back.  We spent some time appreciating the view from the ridge and scouting around, then began our descent.

 

While we did not make the summit, the trip was quite enjoyable and we certainly considered it a success.  We laid eyes on the entire route, to Upper Exum, and will be able to move much more quickly on our next attempt.  Additionally, knowing that there will be less snow later in the season, lends confidence. In retrospect, we should probably have stayed with our original plan to attempt the Lower Exum, as it was almost entirely exposed and devoid of snow. Eh. Now we know.  As a team we gained valuable experience with snow travel, and developed a good understanding of our pace.  Most importantly, we made it down safe and had a great time.  Already we are making plans for our next attempt.

Oh, and we saw all of the wildlife. All of it.

 

Cheers,

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,135

For your next trip take trekking poles using an ice axe is PITA. Poles will make the snow travel much more efficient.

Garrett Collier · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 25
Allen Sanderson wrote:

For your next trip take trekking poles using an ice axe is PITA. Poles will make the snow travel much more efficient. 

I could definitely see poles making for quicker travel on some of the hike, but on the steep terrain and climbing the gullies, I was glad to have, and absolutely needed the axe.  In reality, if I only had poles on some of those slopes, or while trying to climb and traverse frozen streams, we would have been forced to turn back much earlier. 

Thanks for the suggestions though.

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,135

I may not have been clear - take both poles and an ice axe but save the axe for the steeper terrain.

Garrett Collier · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 25

Ah. well that seems much more reasonable.

Cheers.

Tyler Metheney · · St Louis · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

Sounds like a fun trip, kudos to you an your partner for knowing you didn't have enough time an backing off. Allot of people don't do that an pay for it big time. Hope you nab it next time.

Cheers

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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