Trip Report
A Grand Adventure with Ddriver
Sunday September 3, 2017 10:51am
Ddriver and Gilroy Summit of the Grand.
Ddriver and Gilroy Summit of the Grand.
Credit: Gilroy

Since the mid-70's on my first climbing road-trip out of Texas the Grand Teton has dominated my alpine dream horizon, assuming Freudian status after failing four times to complete a climb on those storied slopes. In the lexicon of my mountain fantasies perhaps El Cap and The Diamond on Long's rank with the Grand Teton among summits in the Lower 48 I covet. As a youngster, the Grand embodied alpinism in the States and I wanted to be an alpinist in a big way. An alpinist from Texas - somewhat oxymoronic.

I managed to succeed on several good climbs in the Tetons but never summitted the Grand despite 4 attempts in 5 trips to the range over 18 years. Climbed the Lower Exum twice and stormed off both times, once after coiling the rope before the Wind Tunnel to race a thunderstorm to the top despite pealing thunder. We turned around when we ran into Jim Kanzler and a client in full retreat. My hair started burning at one point rounding a ridge. That was a little too close for me.

Cathedral Group from Symmetry Spire. <br/>
Cathedral Group from Symmetry Spire.

Credit: Gilroy

The desire to climb the Grand resurfaced relatively recently and the notion of the North Ridge seized my imagination. Robert (ddriver) responded right positively when I broached the idea. We have had a modicum of success in the alpine over the decades and monstrous fun doing it. (Or not doing it as the case may be.) Type I and Type II fun we had mastered and if it came to Type III fun I figured we had a good chance of survival. Foolishly, he accepted straight away.
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Camping was not assured though and we were agog at the entrance to GTNP where the sign noted all CG were full so we headed to the AAC Climbers Ranch and luckily landed a couple of bunks. Had a chuckle with staff when I name-dropped that my housemate signed their paychecks as AAC bookkeeper

"Oh, you know Carol."

"Yeah, she's my landlady."

The weather window was open so we planned to get right up there and try our luck. Packed in the parking lot just like the good old days and had dinner with old friends staying there (Brian from SLC) and made new acquaintances with those sitting nearby in the common cooking area - just like the good old days.

Next morning plans began to change. We negotiated the orange pylons and plastic fencing around the new construction at Jenny Lake and found the same old Rangers Office where it's always been and George Montopolis dispensing current beta and wisdom of the ages just like always (except his hair is not black anymore.)

No bivy permits were available for the Lower Saddle and a lack of info on the Valhalla Traverse prompted a switch of route choice to the Petzoldt Ridge from a bivy at Moraine camp. So we went.

Summit fever.
Summit fever.
Credit: Gilroy

Over night the wind came up and was gusting with bodyweight blasts by the time we reached the Lower Saddle round civil twilight so we bailed on the Petzoldt plan for the Owen-Spalding as the best chance to summit that day.

STFU
STFU
Credit: Gilroy

Walls above the O-S gully
Walls above the O-S gully
Credit: Gilroy

We emerged from the somewhat sheltered Owen-Spalding gully to more blustery winds at the Upper Saddle, donned climbing shoes and roped up near the fluttering prayer flags. Welcome to Death-On-Easy-Ground country.

Arriving at the Upper Saddle. The O-S rappel touches down just right o...
Arriving at the Upper Saddle. The O-S rappel touches down just right of the prayer flags.
Credit: Gilroy

The Belly Roll begins the more technical and exposed part.
The Belly Roll begins the more technical and exposed part.
Credit: Gilroy

Robert led the Belly Roll and I got the Double Chimney pitch. When I looked back from just below the crux I envisioned one bounce near the belay and then over the edge to oblivion so I plugged a couple smallish cams and worked my way into the Owen Chimney. Robert led through and we dispensed with the rope.

Owen Chimney
Owen Chimney
Credit: Gilroy

After the guided parties passed in descent we scrambled Sargent's Chimney, traversed under the 3 Stooges and had the top to ourselves for 20 minutes. We took the usual pix and then I nosed about in solitude soaking in the summit reverie, making sure I got it right, sinking into vistas and memories while Robert was posting to FB. It ain't last century, baby!

Gilroy on the summit Grand Teton.
Gilroy on the summit Grand Teton.
Credit: Gilroy

Grand summit looking toward Mt. Moran.
Grand summit looking toward Mt. Moran.
Credit: Gilroy

Ddriver summit posting.
Ddriver summit posting.
Credit: Gilroy

Of course the weather abated as we descended and we rested at the Lower Saddle in picnic conditions. Still, the next day dawned drizzly and we explored the starts to other climbs as we descended Garnet Canyon and ended up at Dornan's mid-afternoon before Happy Hour gazing out the window at the Grand and its subsidiary peaks.. After an appetizer of ale and a shot of bourbon I couldn't help but think of the last time I saw Chuck Pratt here.

We had run into each other out and about over the years and conversed a couple of times on Baxter's Pinnacle as he guided clients. We had nodded at each other in the late evening at Dornan's lifting a glass in toast to another day. That last time the barkeep put a Guinness in front of me before I could order and when I looked up there was Pratt lifting his glass in toast. A moment of climbing comraderie that will forever be connected in my mind to the summit of the Grand with Ddriver.

Before leaving at the end of the week we got in some more climbing up Cascade Canyon on Guides Wall when the weather was iffy and on the SW Ridge of Symmetry Spire with vertical to overhanging 5.6 on wonderful Teton granite. It left me looking forward to a few more decades of climbing amongst the legends of the range. A lifetime of extremely moderate mountaineering awaits and I'm stoked.

Cascade Canyon. Mountains up there somewhere.
Cascade Canyon. Mountains up there somewhere.
Credit: Gilroy

Direction the rain comes from in the Tetons.
Direction the rain comes from in the Tetons.
Credit: Gilroy

Weatherman
Weatherman
Credit: Gilroy

Gilroy on the steep bit approaching Symmetry Spire.
Gilroy on the steep bit approaching Symmetry Spire.
Credit: Gilroy

Steep SW Ridge climbing. Symmetry Spire.
Steep SW Ridge climbing. Symmetry Spire.
Credit: Gilroy

5.7 dihedrals P.3 Symmetry Spire
5.7 dihedrals P.3 Symmetry Spire
Credit: Gilroy

SW Ridge, Symmetry Spire p.5
SW Ridge, Symmetry Spire p.5
Credit: Gilroy

Symmetry Spire SW Ridge
Symmetry Spire SW Ridge
Credit: Gilroy

Moss Campion
Moss Campion
Credit: Gilroy











  Trip Report Views: 827
Gilroy
About the Author
Gilroy is a social climber from Bolderado.

Comments
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Crump

Social climber
Canyon Lake, Texas
  Sep 3, 2017 - 02:15pm PT
Good TR Keith-E-Baby. Wish I was getting high up in the mountains with my Texas Bros!
Crump

Social climber
Canyon Lake, Texas
  Sep 3, 2017 - 02:17pm PT
Oh, and I bought the Hobie 18 today so you guys will have to come down for some sailing!!!
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Sep 3, 2017 - 03:10pm PT
Gneiss report. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Author's Reply  Sep 3, 2017 - 05:21pm PT
Thanks for the geologic quip, Fritz.

Crump-atollah - I'll be down to Texas in Oct so maybe we can do some sailing. I hear you got some water down there.
MH2

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
  Sep 3, 2017 - 05:37pm PT
This was fun to see. I was on top of the Grand in 1970. I remember how our voices had a different quality up where there were minimal echoes, and that a metal plaque on the summit had depressions melted into it. I would not want to be up there when lightning was looking for a route to ground.
Tracey Price

Trad climber
Sandy
  Sep 3, 2017 - 06:23pm PT
Hey Keith,
Great trip report with awesome photos. Wish I could have been there with you guys.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Sep 3, 2017 - 06:25pm PT
Yeah, ya did!

Great TR!

Always great running into you as well!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Sep 3, 2017 - 08:06pm PT
Nice Keith....Enchanted Rock on steroids!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Sep 3, 2017 - 08:55pm PT
hey there say, gilroy... wow, thanks for sharing...

also, i loved that tree photo, cascade canyon...

thanks for all the pics, too!
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Sep 4, 2017 - 05:39am PT
This was enjoyable reading. Thanks!
Gilroy

Social climber
Bolderado
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2017 - 07:15pm PT
Thanks to all of you for your kind words.

Jim - you may remember E. Rock is where we first climbed together.

Tracey Price - you too!

MH2 - I know three climbers hit by lightning: one died, the survivor committed suicide and the other is my friend, Philo. Their trauma and my close call has changed my approach to climbing. Dying may be preferable to surviving a strong strike.
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 4, 2017 - 07:39pm PT
Congrats on a fine summit and for your tenacity. I got to within a few hundred feet several years ago but my knee blew up and I had to head down while my two buddies went to the top. Haven't been back since and I'm not sure I will but it's a beautiful mountain. Thanks for a great report. Seems like yesterday that I was up there on that windblown upper saddle.

Scott
ddriver

Trad climber
SLC, UT
  Sep 5, 2017 - 08:12am PT
Looks like you had a good time Gilroy, and lucked into some pretty fine pictures on your trip. Congrats are in order. Couldn't help but notice what a cute little orange rope you're carrying around there.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Sep 5, 2017 - 08:18am PT
Cheers!

DMT
Mike Honcho

Trad climber
Glenwood Springs, CO
  Sep 5, 2017 - 08:54am PT
Solid work boys!
ddriver

Trad climber
SLC, UT
  Sep 5, 2017 - 10:10am PT
Meteorological quip.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Sep 5, 2017 - 10:45am PT
Wonderful TR and great all-around story. The Grand is ALWAYS good for a triple A fun rating, and the AAC climbers ranch is Holy Ground as far as I am concerned. It's a chapel for the Alpinism faithful, if you will. I have always enjoyed my various sojourns to the Grand and have climbed it with nearly all of my principal partners over the years (and also failed on it with several of these same partners). I just love the place. "classic Teton granite" might be considered an oxymoron when considered in the context of many routes in the range, but I understand completely why you would choose that descriptor for the rock on Symmetry Spire - what a total hoot of a climb.
L

climber
Tiptoeing through the chilly waters of life
  Sep 5, 2017 - 01:54pm PT
Damn that was good!
Funny, too.
With awesome photos.
Thanks for making it this time! 😜
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 5, 2017 - 05:54pm PT
Way to keep at it, a wonderful,,TR!!!
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