Thursday, July 3, 2014

Teewinot via East Face

Teewinot Mountain via East Face - Class 4, Snow, Alpine, Grade III

Following a week of geologic fieldwork in Yellowstone, William and I planned on climbing some mountains.  Our first choice was Granite Peak, located in the rugged Beartooth Mountains of southern Montana.  Due to poor weather, we opted for plan B; Teewinot Mountain in the Tetons.  The Tetons were supposed to have bad weather rolling in by mid-afternoon as well, but we figured we could climb it and get off the mountain before the storms blew in (unlike Granite, which would require many hours of hiking just to get to the base of the mountain).

We left Yellowstone at 5 am and we were on the trail at 7 am. Clear skies.  The East Face route leaves the Lupine Meadows parking lot and pretty much goes straight up the mountain to the summit.  2.5 miles, 5,600 ft. to the top.  We made great progress, despite the steep trail.  We were motivated by the weather window we had, not knowing how long it would last.  Once we reached the "apex" area, where the trail turns into a steep snowfield and scrambling, we put on our helmets and unpacked our ice axes.

Close to the "Apex" area on Teewinot.  The route follows the snowfield straight up towards the summit
William getting started on the snow
Taking a breather on Teewinot
From here, we deliberately and methodically kicked steps up the steep, crusty snow using our ice axes for balance and security.  William, apparently dehydrated, started feeling nauseous and decided to turn back.  He encouraged me onward and so I went.  I quickly climbed the snowfield and scrambled up 3rd and 4th class solid rock up the right side of the couloir until I gained the summit ridge.  The entire Teton range suddenly came into view in a moment.  I had reached the summit by 11 am and I beat the storms. I made my way down the same way I came up.  William was feeling much better when I reached him, having drunken his water and refilled numerous times with melting snow.

Looking down the route from near the summit of Teewinot 
Looking south towards Jackson from Teewinot
From left to right: South Teton, Middle Teton, Grand Teton, Mt. Owen

I dried my feet out and filled up my water bottle before we made the hike back down to the car.  We reached the parking lot at 2 pm, exactly 7 hours after starting.

Storms blowing in around 2:30 pm

We got a burger in Jackson and went out separate ways.  I drove back to SLC that afternoon through torrential rain and thunderstorms.  We got our weather window.