Monday, August 25, 2014

Grand Teton via Owen-Splading Route 2014

August 18-19, 2014

Grand Teton via Owen-Spalding (Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 1560 ft, Grade II)

My dad and I began planning an ascent of the Grand Teton several months ago.  I knew I was moving away to start a PhD and I thought it would be a great way to spend some time with my dad before my move.  So...I told my 61 year old dad to start getting his hiking legs under him.  Despite the fact that he has never done any technical climbing in his life, he took the challenge.  He spent the next several months hiking and biking in preparation for our big climb.  I took him out rock climbing and rappelling a couple times to show him the basics of the equipment, but the rest he learned on the fly during the climb.

We planned our climb for August 18-19.  We invited John, my brother-in-law, and another friend of mine, Billie Hancock.  We picked up our camping permit from the Jenny Lake Ranger Station and started our ascent from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead at 6,780 ft. elevation with our heavy packs full of overnight gear on Monday August 18 (tent, sleeping bag, pad, stove, fuel, pots, etc) and climbing gear (ropes, rock pro, helmets, harnesses, etc.).  We hiked up to an elevation of approximately 11,000 ft. at the Moraine Camp where we set up camp and prepared for the climb the following day.  The Moriane Camp is literally perched on a glacial moraine associated with the shrinking Middle Teton Glacier.  We got water directly from the melting glacier and I didn't even bother purifying the water.  We boiled some water for our deyhrdrated meals and put on some warm clothes.  We got to bed early as some evening clouds and showers blew through.

At 4 am the following morning, we awoke to clear skies and cold air.  We sacrificed having a hot breakfast and ate granola bars, english muffins, and fruit snacks for breakfast instead and started making our way up at 4:30 am guided by our headlamps.  We reached the Lower Saddle, drank a liter of water and refilled our water bottles at a natural spring just below the saddle.  From here, the trail ended and the off-trail scrambling and climbing began.  We scrambled up 1,500 ft up challenging terrain to the Upper Saddle.  My dad led the way and kept a great pace the whole way.  The Upper Saddle marks the beginning of the technical portion of the route and is a good place to take a break.  A couple parties were in front of us, which allowed us to take a decent breather, eat some food, put on our harnesses and helmets, prepare to climb, and get cold!  My dad and I climbed as a team, while John and Billie climbed as the other.  I led the first pitch, which traverses across an exposed ledge with a couple awkward moves (Belly Crawl) to the beginning of the double chimney.  For our second pitch, we climbed the short chimney and took the "Cat Walk" variation back to the south (right) towards Sergeants Chimney. Dad, having never climbed on exposed terrain like this before, climbed like an experienced champ.  For our third "pitch," we climbed Sergeants Chimney (low 5th class) and then scrambled up class 3 terrain to the summit, which we reached around 10:30 am.  It was a great climb with no major hiccups.  The summit views were great and the rainy weather, which seemed to hit the rest of the American West, held off just long enough for us to complete our goal.    

We did THE big 100 ft. rappel to get off the summit and then made our way back to camp and eventually all the way out. It was a long day.  In fact, I drove back to SLC that night with Billie and drove to Flagstaff, AZ the following day.  I think I am finally recovered, one week later.  


The Tetons
Me and my pop with the Middle Teton in the background
Hiking in
Waterfall above the meadows camp
My dad high above the valley below
A nice tush
The view from the Moraine Camp - Middle Teton and Middle Teton Glacier
Moraine Camp
Camp selfie
Camp life, PC: John
Sunrise on the Middle Teton
Billie and Pop scrambling up towards the Upper Saddle
The beginning of the first pitch of the Owen-Spalding route
Pop working his way past the "Belly Crawl" section
Pop finishing up Pitch 1
Post Pitch 1 selfie
"Dad, hold on"......"Dad, stop." ....."Dad, stop! I want to take a picture."...."Dad, look at me."  It was a struggle, but debatably the best picture I took.  
Action shot on the cat walk
Jimbo summit celebration
Looking down on Mt. Owens and Teewinot, Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake
Schly guys 
Billie rappelling down
Hiking out
We spotted a mama black bear and her 2 cubs (not pictured).  They were climbing in the pine trees on the right.