Lower Highway to Heaven
Avg: 2.6 from 9 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 8 pitches, Grade II|
|FA:||First Described Route: Nobuyuki “Yuki” Fujita and Ron Watters|
|Page Views:||1,698 total · 84/month|
|Shared By:||Ron Watters on Jun 27, 2016|
Baxters Pinnacle and Southwest Descent Gully Closed for Nesting Peregrine Falcons Details
As of May 27, 2014, Baxters Pinnacle and its southwest descent gully are closed due to an active peregrine falcon aerie. The area is expected to be opened in August. Grand Teton National Park monitors the area every year to determine whether a seasonal raptor closure is necessary.
Highway to Heaven is an outstanding multi-pitch climb on the tantalizing granite of Storm Point. Nobuyuki “Yuki” Fujita and I originally did the climb in eleven pitches. We purposely kept some of pitches short on our exploratory climbs to avoid rope drag and to communicate better between one another. However, in two subsequent climbs, that number was reduced to a more efficient seven to eight pitches.
The climbs ends at Tranquility Point – not an official name, we admit, but an appropriate name considering the elegance and beauty of the climbing to reach it. The climb is all south facing and is climbable throughout the season.
It’s a particularly pleasant route in the early season when other climbs are still snowed in or wet from melt water. It’s slightly easier and closer to the trailhead than Guides Wall (a popular 5.8 climb located a mile farther than this climb), and it serves as a good alternative when things are crowded there. It’s conveniently located near the west side of Jenny Lake, starting and ending at the same location. Many climbs in the Tetons involve a fair amount of scrambling, but not here. This one is all rock.
(See "Location" for how to get to 'The Ramp' which is the starting point of the climb.
From the top of the ramp, you can see the first two pitches. You’ll be looking at a southeast facing slab that extends upward 200 feet. The top of the slab is guarded by a huge roof (Entrance Roof) that extends from one side of the slab to the other. The start of the climb begins on a smooth slope with small holds. The slope quickly eases off and then steepens up again midway up to the roof. Entrance Roof is an imposing barrier, but it can be avoided by climbing around it to its extreme left side – where, just above and to the left of the roof, you’ll find a nice ledge (Rhapsody Ledge).
From here, you follow a natural line upwards until reaching Tranquility Point, a high point just below some impressive vertical walls. (Upper Highway to Heaven begins here. More information on that climb will be available soon on Mountain Project.)
The first ascent of the route required 11 pitches but on subsequent ascents, we have been able to cut that back to 7 pitches. I have prepared a webpage with details on each of the pitches here:
LocationTake the boat across Jenny Lake (or hike the 2.5 mile Jenny Lake trail) to the Cascade Creek Trail. (Hint: there’s a reduced fare if you catch the earliest boat) The Cascade Trail leads to the popular Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. Continue past Inspiration Point. Approximately .6 mile from Inspiration Point, the trail which has been mostly in trees enters an open area. Cascade Creek will be to your left. The creek which to this point has been a series of rapids suddenly becomes smooth and lake-like for a short stretch. It’s at this point where the flat water starts that you’ll turn to the right, off the trail, and climb uphill to start of the climbing route.
Before hiking up the talus and scree slope above the lake-like water of Cascade Creek, look to the right (north) and upwards. The main buttress of Storm Point on which you’ll be climbing is somewhat protected by a lower cliff band a couple hundred feet above Cascade Creek. Above the cliff band is an upper bench with scattered trees. The climb is accessed from this bench. The lower cliff band has a break in it directly above where the flat water of Cascade Creek turns into rapids. You’ll want to head for this break in the cliff band.
Hike upwards through the break in the cliff band and continue hiking straight uphill. As you approach the buttress, look for a ramp, and if you spot it, head towards it. If you don’t see the ramp, hike straight up until reaching the buttress. Once you reach the base of the buttress, turn left and hike a short distance around the base of it. In less than 200 feet, you’ll come to the ramp.
ProtectionThe rappels which bring you back to the starting point of the climb require all of 60 meters, so the best way to climb it is to use a 60-meter double rope – or if you use a single rope, be sure to take along an extra rope for rappels. (If you’re just doing the first two pitches, one 70 meter single rope will do the job.)
You can get by with a fairly light rack. We had a few small chocks, one of each cam from the smallest up to 4-inch (we did use the 4 inch cam a couple of times), around 10-12 shoulder length slings, and our own cordelettes. That was perfectly adequate for lead and belay station anchors. During the two recent climbs of the route, Peter Walka and I reinforced the existing rappels, but since route is fairly new, it’s a good idea to bring extra sling material to further beef up anchors.