Sand bag in the Tetons?


Original Post
Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160

What's the sand bag like around the Grand Teton National Park?  Are routes like the upper and lower exum sandbagged like Joshua Tree and Tahquitz or not so much? 


NathanC · · Logan, Utah · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 10

They've really had to stack 'em up high with the runoff and all, do the rangers a favor and haul a few to the saddle if you're going.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160

Well played Nathan!  Well played.   

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

If you are used to climbing in those areas for the most part probably the only issue is time on routes. I.e. Route finding difficulty, including get to and  finding the start.

Dan Evans · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

I didn't climb the lower exum but the upper exum felt true to the grade, as did the other routes we did in the area. Then again I learned to climb in Jtree so that's sort of my baseline. The rock there is a bit more featured though and differs from the style you would find in Jtree or Tahquitz.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115

The crux of a lot of these Teton routes can be finding the start! I looked for the Dihedral of Horrors on four separate occasions before I actually figured out the correct approach. I find it helpful to recon the approach before I return for real with 30 lbs of gear. That being said, the other obstacles are time management, hold testing and weather prediction. The climbing itself is true to grade, its a good idea to start with routes a little easier than what you would climb at the crag because the Alpine environment is simply different. Innocent injuries such as a sprained ankle can be far more consequential.

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

The year of the FA (and a lot of times who put up the route), will tell you a lot about what kind and difficulty of the climbing to expect. The Tetons tend to be chossy so you'll get nice compct sections interspersed with large sections of choss wrangling. Like others have said, route-finding will be the biggest hurdle and moving efficiently over easy terrain will go a long way into enjoying your time in the Tetons.

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205
DavisMeschke Guillotine wrote:

The Tetons tend to be chossy so you'll get nice compct sections interspersed with large sections of choss wrangling.

We must have fairly different ideas about what constitutes choss. I've always thought the rock in the Tetons was pretty incredible. Maybe I have low standards?

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115
Jaren Watson wrote:

We must have fairly different ideas about what constitutes choss. I've always thought the rock in the Tetons was pretty incredible. Maybe I have low standards?

The geology of the Tetons is unique compared to other areas. Teton granite is some of the oldest granite in the state, clocking at over 2 Billion years of age. That being said, it was not uplifted and exposed by faulting activity until a few hundred million years ago. This provides the Teton paradox, the range is both one of the oldest as well as newest rock formations in the state. With regard to choss, Jackson Hole ski resort received almost 600 inches of snow this winter, the alpine nature that characterizes the range involves freeze/thaw cycles which destabalize the rock. Just look at the tremendous scree fields along the bases of the peaks. Well travelled routes such as the Exum ridge or Owen spalding are going to be cleaned up, but there is always potential for loose rock.

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205
Skye Swoboda-Colberg wrote:

The geology of the Tetons is unique compared to other areas. Teton granite is some of the oldest granite in the state, clocking at over 2 Billion years of age. That being said, it was not uplifted and exposed by faulting activity until a few hundred million years ago. This provides the Teton paradox, the range is both one of the oldest as well as newest rock formations in the state. With regard to choss, Jackson Hole ski resort received almost 600 inches of snow this winter, the alpine nature that characterizes the range involves freeze/thaw cycles which destabalize the rock. Just look at the tremendous scree fields along the bases of the peaks. Well travelled routes such as the Exum ridge or Owen spalding are going to be cleaned up, but there is always potential for loose rock.

Tetons geology is fascinating. I lived within an hour of the range for thirty years and most of my hikes, scrambles, and climbs have been in the Tetons. Maybe my love for them has precluded my seeing their chossy nature. I just compare them to the ranges we have in Idaho where the rock is so broken up that Tetons rock seems amazingly solid to me.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115
Jaren Watson wrote:

Tetons geology is fascinating. I lived within an hour of the range for thirty years and most of my hikes, scrambles, and climbs have been in the Tetons. Maybe my love for them has precluded my seeing their chossy nature. I just compare them to the ranges we have in Idaho where the rock is so broken up that Tetons rock seems amazingly solid to me.

Yep, its all relative. The Tetons are a bombing range compared to the unbroken Vedauwoo granite I learned to climb on.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160
Skye Swoboda-Colberg wrote:

The geology of the Tetons is unique compared to other areas. Teton granite is some of the oldest granite in the state, clocking at over 2 Billion years of age. That being said, it was not uplifted and exposed by faulting activity until a few hundred million years ago. This provides the Teton paradox, the range is both one of the oldest as well as newest rock formations in the state. With regard to choss, Jackson Hole ski resort received almost 600 inches of snow this winter, the alpine nature that characterizes the range involves freeze/thaw cycles which destabalize the rock. Just look at the tremendous scree fields along the bases of the peaks. Well travelled routes such as the Exum ridge or Owen spalding are going to be cleaned up, but there is always potential for loose rock.

Fascinating!  I am excited.  I am accustom to a mixture of qualities in granite around SoCal, Tahquitz and Joshua Tree are great, Holcomb and Alabama Hills are ok.  All I appreciate more than volcanic or conglomerates in my area, and more than the local sandstone.

Gee Double · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 1,898

WTF is the "Lower Exum" ? You mean the Durrance Direct ! 5.7+

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115
Gee Double wrote:

WTF is the "Lower Exum" ? You mean the Durrance Direct ! 5.7+

I was referring to the classic route Glenn Exum soloed in 1931. I would have to fish out the Ortenburger/Jackson bible to figure out where the Durrance Direct is since its not on MP. Maybe you can enlighten us, is the Durrance Direct a sandbag at 5.7+?

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115

The Lower Exum Ridge is a classic non summit route that ends where the Upper Exum Ridge begins. The first pitch involves a chimney that has the reputation of being a sandbag, but I've never climbed it. Per the MP page ratings, some people think its as hard as 5.8. 

Brandon.Phillips · · Portola, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 55

That chimney is 5.6. 

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205

I think most climbers feel the Black Face is solid 5.7. I'm climbing it in two weeks, so I guess I'll find out if it's sandbagged. I felt the upper Exum was super mellow 5.5.

Luke Lindeman · · Lancaster, PA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

Climbed the East Ridge of Disappointment last year which goes 5.6 at the crux sections. I felt like it was pretty accurate, but the quality of that granite made it feel so much easier than what I'm used to at my local crags. It's all going to be subjective, but it's also all going to be awesome.

Forever Outside · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 160
Jaren Watson wrote:

I think most climbers feel the Black Face is solid 5.7. I'm climbing it in two weeks, so I guess I'll find out if it's sandbagged. I felt the upper Exum was super mellow 5.5.

I might see you out there at that time!  I have permits for 4 nights in the back country, 2 nigthts at moraine and 2 night at lower saddle.  I'm thinking of splitting the ridge into two seperate days of climbing.  Is that stupid?  Hike up to the high camp, climb the lower exum ridge one day, top out at Wall St and head back to camp and then climb the upper exum the following day.  If there is time after that do Middle Teton or Irene's Arete and then head off the mountain.  I've never been to the Tetons.  Is that a good or bad plan?  I'm aware that many people could link the lower and upper exum into a big day, but we are looking to enjoy the 4 nights booked instead of pushing an 18 hour car to car climb.

Stagg54 Taggart · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 10
Skye Swoboda-Colberg wrote:

Yep, its all relative. The Tetons are a bombing range compared to the unbroken Vedauwoo granite I learned to climb on.

There are still a few loose rocks and flakes in Vedauwoo, but by and large it is one of the most solid areas I have ever climbed at.  By comparison just about anything is chossy.  But the Tetons compared to the overall range of climbing areas are generally quite solid.

Skye Swoboda-Colberg · · Laramie, Wyoming · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 115

I had a few close calls, one time I set off a rock the size of toaster which bounced erratically and barely missed my partner. Always wear a helmet, avoid each others fall lines and always yell rock as soon as possible. Even something the size of a marble can gain enough speed to throw you off balance. I've heard some horror stories about the East ridge of Nez Perce, otherwise your right, the rock is bomber.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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