A late Thursday afternoon call... |

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A late Thursday afternoon call...

So, late one Thursday afternoon my buddy Jim calls. "Hey, want to climb the Grand Teton this weekend?"... Uhhh, well, hadn't plan on it, but Cristina has plans so sure.

The Big Boy

About 48 hours later I find myself at the Lupine Meadows trailhead packing gear. We are warned by several groups there are 2 bears just up the trail. We missed them, but did run into a group about 1 mile up the trail coming down. One of the members had broken his arm up near the Meadows, and they were hiking out. Wow, that's pretty hard core to walk out with a broken arm. They also warn us there were 3 injuries on the mountain that day that required air evacuation. Yikes!

2 hours from Lupine Meadows we reach the Platforms, our designated camping site for the night. It's 9PM, and we plan on getting up at 1AM, walking by 1:30. What a short night! Still, I manage to squeeze in a few hours sleep before we get up and start hiking at 1:30AM.

Dawn - Several Pitches up Upper Exum

Jim's two friends, Brad and Greg, are going to leave the trailhead at 12:30. By starting at 1:30, and being slower, we anticipate they will catch up below the lower saddle. Plodding up by headlamp is not my favorite thing, especially when we are constantly crossing snow fields along the way. The new ice axe I had just purchased, and the yak traks Cristina had borrowed me were invaluable. We reached the final climb to the lower saddle about 3:30, and sit down to wait for Greg and Brad. They show up and we make the somewhat treacherous climb up the boot pack to the lower saddle, reaching the lower saddle by 4 AM.

From the lower saddle, it is amazing to see the stream of headlamps both ahead of us, as well as lower down the mountain coming up. Clearly this is a popular outing!

The route for the day is Upper Exum, and we are at the rope up spot before 5AM. We all rope up for the step across and Golden Staircase pitch just after it. The sun is finally starting to peak up over the land. Greg and Brad, being much faster, un-rope and head off. Jim and I coil the rope and slowly work our way up. The route finding isn't difficult, and the climbing is easy, so we only rope up for a couple of brief spots. An Exum guided group is chomping at our heals, but we manage to stay ahead of them, reaching the summit about 8AM.

Obligatory Summit Shot

The descent goes smoothly, but is LONG! We reach the lower saddle by 11AM and take a 30 minute break. The boot pack has softened up, and even with an ice axe and yak trak both Jim and I both unintentionally take the slide... err... I mean glissade down. Fun when it's over and neither of us is injured.

Snowy Traverse to the Summit - Very Cool

Back to the trailhead by 4PM, then the long drive back to SLC. What a trip! Mountaineering is not really my thing, but it was great to climb one of the classic routes.




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