Trip Report
Grand Teton Unroped
Monday July 15, 2013 12:55am
Roger Roots on top of Grand Teton
Roger Roots on top of Grand Teton
Credit: Roger Roots
Believe it or not, Grand Teton is easily climbed without gear. Most of the pitches described in the guidebooks as “5.7” or “5.8” would barely pass as a 5.4 if they were in lower terrain. What makes the pitches dangerous, of course, is the exposure. One slip and you may fall 1,000 feet to your death. More than a hundred souls have lost their lives in this way. But if you are not afraid of heights and have some experience chimneying and scrambling up rock faces, the technical parts at the top of Grand Teton can be easily mastered. (Climbing the mountain is a major feat nonetheless because just getting to the lower saddle requires a 6.5-mile hike and 5,000 feet of elevation gain.
The entire climb requires an ascent of seven thousand feet, yet the guidebooks focus on only the last 100. Facts that everyone should know: Grand Teton is the second highest mountain in Wyoming (the first is Gannett Peak in the Wind River Range.) Grand Teton is also one of the 50 most prominent mountains in the United States, measured by its distance from the peak to its shoulder. Guide services occasionally charge more than two thousand dollars to guide someone to the summit.
The big bucks charged by the professional guiding companies ensure that the guides have a stake in generating the impression that they alone hold the keys to the summit and that bagging Grand Teton requires extensive gear and technical training. On the other hand, many of the paying clients enlisted by these companies are greenhorns from flat country who really do need to hire guides to make it to climb this mountain.
I grew up in the shadows of the Crazy Mountains in Montana and have been climbing since I could first talk. I’m fairly surefooted on rocky terrain and have a good confidence level regarding my abilities. I decided, after reading up on the topic, to try my hand at a solo, free-climb (unroped) of Grand Teton. I figured if I reached a point on the mountain that was over my abilities, I would turn around and try again another day.
I slept in my car in the Lupine Meadows parking lot until around 6:30 a.m.. After doing some quick packing, I left the car shortly after 7:00. This of course is known as a late start in climbing circles, and I would later encounter people who had left the parking lot as early as 3:30 in the morning.
The trip from the trailhead to the saddle may actually be the most arduous part of the climb. Miles of switchbacks, stream crossings and rock hopping. I reached the saddle around 11:00 to 11:30. There were two guide services operating near the lower saddle. The Exum company has a station well positioned right on the lower saddle, and the Jackson Hole guide group has a group of orange tents stationed high on a ridge to the right of the saddle. (I briefly stumbled through the Jackson Hole company camp while thinking it was on route to the saddle; finding it unoccupied and in the wrong place, I had to back down a hundred vertical feet to the left to get back on track.) I then kicked my way diagonally up the snowfield onto the saddle. There I briefly spoke to some Exum clients who had already summited (at like 8:00 a.m.) and were waiting for friends to descend to their level.
I took off up toward the Owen Spalding route at around 11:30, encountering a few guided climbers coming down as I went up. Had a brief encounter with a friendly park ranger who knew the score. Seeing me with my blue jeans and running shoes, he asked me what time I had left the parking lot. When I told him 7:30 he said he thought I could make the summit before the predicted afternoon storms came in.
Within an hour I was on the upper saddle, totally alone. I decided to drop my daypack and my gloves and just see if I could summit quickly and return. I negotiated the “belly crawl” and found a notch to the right I could climb up (probably the second chimney described in the guidebooks). Then I just poked and scratched my way to the summit.
Shortly before reaching the summit I had a great surprise. Two well-equipped climbers, Ben and Bonnie from Utah, happened to be descending. They asked if I needed a rappel and I said I thought I could make it down the same chimney I came up. I raced to the summit, stood on the U.S.G.S. brass marker and took a few pictures. I had no way of recording the time, but I assume it was between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. I started having second thoughts about turning down Ben and Bonnie’s rappel offer. I clambered down a couple pitches and found the two of them searching for a rappel route down to the upper saddle. I cast my lot with them and we found a rock with a multitude of straps clinging to it. I rappelled down two pitches on their line wearing Ben’s harness.
I thanked Ben and Bonnie and started ahead of them after we all got down to the upper saddle. I made the mistake of descending to the left (from above) of the Needle, and got “cliffed out” as the guide books say. I say a couple places where numerous parties had fashioned rappel straps to get over the cliffs. But I was, again, without a rope as I had left Ben and Bonnie far behind on the upper saddle above me. I thought I was in something of a pickle but finally identified a couple chimney cracks by which I managed to descend a couple of steep pitches.
When I got down to the large snowfield below the lower saddle, I let it rip with a monstrous glissade that was seen by all the Exum and JHG groups that were just then approaching their camps. My legs were quite wooden and numb during the final five mile hike to the parking lot.
Later that evening I stayed and showered at the American Alpine Club climbers ranch a couple miles away. The lodging facilities were not exactly luxurious, and I assessed them as overpriced. For 25 bucks you get to share one of six bunks in a cold unplumbed cabin. Lots of rules such as no eating of food except on some picnic tables in a communal area. Still there was good conversation (which may be the real value of the place) and the AAC library (off of the dining area) was worth spending a couple hours in. It is stocked with hundreds of great climbing and adventure books, many of which are long out of print. There are musical instruments, board games and a computer terminal with an internet connection. A fellow climber played guitar for more than an hour and it was pretty good stuff. I hunkered down on my laptop to work on a legal brief (along with this trip report).
The next morning (7/13/2013) I drove back north toward Yellowstone and stopped for coffee (and to finish this trip report) at the beautiful Jackson Lake Lodge in GTNP. Huge picture windows (gazing directly at Mount Moran), a piano player in the lobby. Life is too good to be true.

  Trip Report Views: 7,558
Unlucky
About the Author
Roger Roots is a climber from Dallas.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 19, 2013 - 03:57pm PT
Yes, the Owen Spalding and Uppert Exum routes can be climbed unroped if one is well prepared and precise in movement.

I don't know any 5.8's that are really 5.4's but the range offers some great rock-climbing adventure.

Thank you.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 01:20am PT
Nice TR!

I'm curious which pitch(s) you climbed on the Grand that were rated in the guidebooks as 5.7 and/or 5.8 which would be 5.4 at lower elevations? What route?

Cheers!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:29am PT
Climbing the Owen-Spaulding unroped is a nice outing. Congratulations on your ascent. You do yourself no service, however, by including snide attacks on the guides, untruths about the guidebooks, and a general tone suggesting that there is something exceptional about your undertaking.

The first ascent of the Upper Exum ridge, a route with more difficult climbing than the Owen-Spaulding, was done unroped by Glenn Exum in 1931, so unroped ascents (in this case an unroped first ascent!) are very far from being a novelty in the Tetons. Incomparably harder routes than the Owen-Spaulding are done unroped nowadays.

The Owen-Spaulding route is soloed regularly when conditions are reasonably dry. There is even a page devoted to soloing the Grand on the internet: http://wyomingwhiskey.net/ and you can find various videos of folks soloing the route on U-Tube.

It sounds as if you made a pretty quick trip; again, congratulations. But also understand that the entire round trip from Lupine Meadows up and down the Owen-Spaulding has been done (unroped, of course) in 2:53:02, more than an hour less than the time you report just to get up to the Lower Saddle. The original round-trip speed record, in 1939, was 5:22, and at that time there was no climber's trail from the Platforms to the Lower Saddle.

Most of the pitches described in the guidebooks as “5.7” or “5.8” would barely pass as a 5.4 if they were in lower terrain.

You've already been asked which 5.7 and 5.8 pitches in the Tetons (or on the Grand, as you seem to imply) are graded 5.7 or 5.8 but are really at most 5.4. Some Teton grades may be a bit soft, but by 3 to 4 grades? You're gonna have to give specific examples of Teton 5.7 or 5.8 pitches you have climbed that are, in reality, 5.4 at most.

The entire climb requires an ascent of seven thousand feet, yet the guidebooks focus on only the last 100.

This is just plain false.

The big bucks charged by the professional guiding companies ensure that the guides have a stake in generating the impression that they alone hold the keys to the summit and that bagging Grand Teton requires extensive gear and technical training.

This is a gratuitous dig at the guiding services, who mostly take people up the Grand who have never climbed before.

jopay

climber
so.il
  Jul 15, 2013 - 06:14am PT
Guide services occasionally charge more than two thousand dollars to guide someone to the summit.

Seriously, that gives new meaning to disposable income.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 07:12am PT
If you have your own rope and accept a rapell because the other party offers you their rope no biggi. If you have no rope then you in fact relied on someone else to carry a rope up there for you. The fact that you did not have your own harness/swami or rope and inconvienced and slowed down the party by haveing to actually have one of them take off their harness and lend it to you means that you in fact got rescued.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 07:13am PT
Seems like a pretty cocky TR for someone who got rescued;)
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 15, 2013 - 07:31am PT
A dulfersitz on the traditional Grand rappell will be an excruciating, painful experience unless one is very light or is wearing leather pants.

If a climber doesn't take a harness, conforming a seat from 1" webbing runners will work with carabiner or other type of brake...
SalNichols

Big Wall climber
Richmond, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 07:59am PT
You frigging took a guys harness, rapped his lines, then beat your chest about leaving them far behind?
If lawyer were synonymous for douchebag....well you're the latter.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 15, 2013 - 09:15am PT
First: The Owen Spaulding route is rated 5.1 not 5.7 or 5.8. It is soloed frequently as is the Uper Exum and is no big deal.
Second: The 7000 vertical gain is 90 % hiking. You could do it with your hands in your pocket, chewing gum and balancing your pack on your head.

I hope you had fun dude but don't state things that aren't true. The Guidebook DOES NOT rate the OS or the Upper Exum as 5.7 or 5.8.

If you think the grades are soft go do Caveat Emptor in Death Canyon. The Guidebook rates that 5.10-. I'll bet it would kick your ass.
frank wyman

Mountain climber
montana
  Jul 15, 2013 - 09:46am PT
I climbed out of the Tetons for over 15 years, Did the "Grand" several times. Had Soloists blow past us all the time, They never asked to use our gear or ropes, and were never "Cocky". Bring a rope next time...So you will not need to be rescued again...
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Jul 15, 2013 - 09:54am PT
any pictures?
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jul 15, 2013 - 10:10am PT
Congratulations, climbing the Grand in a day is a fine accomplishment. This TR interested me since I’ve never done the Grand and I am thinking trying a one day trip up it this year. Also, I am very much in favor of adventurous outings and part of such adventures is occasionally putting yourself in situations that push the limits of your own competence.

That said, I think you were pretty lucky to avoid a ranger rescue or worse.

• There is no 5.7 on the common, scrambling type routes to the summit.

• Long experience has shown that the “alpine start” of around 4:00 pm reduces the risk of a lightning disaster like the one that occurred on the Grand a few years ago. Read this account and you may change your triumphant tone about flouting climbing conventions.
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1305110&msg=1305217#msg1305217
Once you have experienced the sheer terror of being on a peak with lightning around you, you never grumble about an early start.

• You should think about what you would have done had it started raining or hailing—hard--on the summit and those climbers had not been there to help you down. That friendly ranger you spoke to would have had to call out a rescue team to risk their own lives to get you off the mountain.

The tone of your report suggesting that the Grand is overrated and encouraging others with a similar level of climbing experience to go up it unroped is smug, foolish and dangerous. As someone who has climbed for 40 years, one thing the mountains regularly teach is humility and I am glad you did not have learn that lesson the hard way.

I would suggest you hire a guide, learn rope handling, and try a true 5.7 sometime. You sound like you’d enjoy climbing and you will look back on this TR, smile, and just shake your head.
Mikemcee

Social climber
Mill Valley, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:05am PT
Thanks for posting!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:11am PT
Congrats on a successful outing. But the late hour of your summit in jeans and tennis shoes and your general tone sounding like you are new to climbing make me think this could have very quickly been a full on rescue. You'd have been seriously hosed had you not had those folks help you out or had the slightest bit of precip come in. Bad juju to be out here on the internet telling other folks (who might not be real climbers who stumble on your report) that this is a fun place to go hike and scramble with no real skill or proper gear. Again, glad you had a nice day out in the mountains. Next time, dress properly, take the right gear so you don't endanger somebody, and consider one of those guide services you were harshing on. You'd probably learn a whole lot that would serve you well down the road. Listen to the real climbers on this site....don't mind if they bust your nuts a bit. Hope you have many great summits in the future.

Scott
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:20am PT
Seeing me with my blue jeans and running shoes

Hardman's attire.
Deekaid

climber
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:25am PT
this could be a massive troll
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:52am PT
Gads I remember spending quite a bit of time looking for that rap gully. That mountain has complex terrain compared to most I have climbed. (I have not climbed any others in the Tetons) Finding the best way up or down is not so simple. I don't consider it a great solo idea for most folks if they haven't done it before. A fun climb, certainly not technically difficult but I would expect most folks will make a few minor wrong turns their first time or two. My buddies and I certainly did.

I actually enjoyed this TR quite a bit. Not perhaps for the reasons you might think. I can tell you are pretty stoked but I hope you take some time to consider in what simple and very possible ways things could have gone from triumph to desperate very easily. I'm not even talking about a slip either.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
  Jul 15, 2013 - 01:38pm PT
Fun read. Sounds like the Grand hasn't changed much since I climbed it in 1956.

Not all the ratings are soft in the Tetons.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:01pm PT
Entertaining TR. Had you climbed this route previously??
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:44pm PT
BEST TROLL EVER????

Assuming this isn't a troll, good job. However, I would caution you against further soloing, as you got rescued.

If you want to try a real Teton 5.8, I recommend Irene's arête, I suggest a rope , guide and a full rack, along with a 3:30 am start time for that one.

Your stoke is infectious, I wish you the best!!!

In the last several years at least two people have died from lightening strikes due to a late start.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 03:59pm PT
Idiot or troll.

It was a waste of my time reading this crap.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
Sounds like the Grand hasn't changed much since I climbed it in 1956.

It's good to read a non-critical and factual comment on this TR. One thing that may have changed, though, is the NPS attitude toward solo climbing there. Summit published an article on non-technical peaks in the Tetons in the 1960's. Since this was around the time I started climbing, I read every word and vividly remember that, at that time, the NPS prohibited solo climbing, unroped or otherwise.

I see no need to pile on regarding the tone of the TR (or troll) itself.

John
Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 04:24pm PT
Not what I expected for a TR, so it did provide some entertainment.

As others have mentioned, the OS is not 5.7 - 5.8. For my only trip to the Grand (wish there were more!), this lady led the Exum DIrect while pregnant. We did use a rope. Came in handy when our first attempt required a rap out when it snowed several inches that August day. Like many alpine climbs, no big deal if conditions are perfect but a very big deal when conditions change.

Thankfully you had a great experience.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 15, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
If you brag about your exploits in a tr (as everyone does to a certain extent) make sure you get your facts right.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 05:25pm PT
The tone of the OP implys that folks who use ropes on the Grand are suckers yet the guy ends up haveing to use a rope and harness that someone else carried up there for him. Weak sauce....

Reminds me of the twight article about Denali. the one where he calls everyone on the W. butt a wanker poser and sprays on and on about how bad assed he and his buds are. they ditch(litter) their tents and sleeping bags to go light and fast like real hardmen (posers) and in the end they eat the food and crash in the tents and sleeping bags, rescued by the very same people he feels superior to..
Lennox

climber
just southwest of the center of the universe
  Jul 15, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
On the one hand, I enjoyed the TR because I also love adventure, soloing and . . . myself, but on the other hand I enjoyed it because of the utter cluelessness of the narrator.

Many examples of errors, spray, and hypocrisy have already been noted above, but I also like the, "ranger who knew the score," and the glissade scene.

If this were a troll it would be a pretty effective use of the naive and braggart forms of the unreliable narrator; it creates a kind of dramatic irony that makes piling-on irresistible to all of us know-it-alls.




Know yourself.
Know your audience.
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
+1
ruppell

climber
  Jul 15, 2013 - 08:06pm PT
Believe it or not, Grand Teton is easily climbed without gear.

LOL. Best line ever. Thanks for the laughs buddy.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
  Jul 16, 2013 - 12:38am PT
More "wisdom" from Roger Roots :-)

looks like the same guy.

PAUL SOUZA

Trad climber
Central Valley, CA
  Jul 15, 2013 - 08:54pm PT
http://www.rogerroots.info/
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 15, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
Perhaps its worthwhile to advise newcomers to the range...a one day ascent of the Grand requires well conditioned legs. Individuals who may spend much of their life behind a desk and do not run/climb/ or walk appreciable distances may get "wooden legs" well before arriving at the portentious pitches of the OS.

The Owen-Spalding route has seen more deaths than any other route on the Grand.

Climbers have blacked out from altitude, skid on ice, been hit by lightning, or just slipped from holds out of fatigue or dizziness.

Without climbing experience and a fair degree of fitness...it's better hiking Table Mountain. The guiding concessions DO have their place...even for experienced climbers seeking more difficult routes. Both Exum and JHMG will guide two day ascents with high camp accomodations for $500 to $800, depending on group size.

I love soloing in the Tetons...hope I'm not being condescending saying it's not the place for casual, out-of-shape novices...
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jul 15, 2013 - 10:49pm PT
I did not get the feeling that this guy was a novice. He simply comes off as cocky smart ass who did not seem to grasp the fact that by borrowing a harness and useing the rope of a party that carried that equiptment up the mountain for him that he was rescued.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 19, 2013 - 03:58pm PT
I did not get the feeling that this guy was a novice.


I don't believe he's an absolute novice, either...just apprehensive about web adventurers deciding the OS is an unconstrained day hike.

ncrockclimber

climber
The Desert Oven
  Jul 15, 2013 - 11:22pm PT
Roger Roots (his name according to Summit Post profile) also posted his TR over on summit post.

Rog, buddy, the climb sounds like fun. You, on the other hand, come off sounding like an arrogant prick and a douche. You go up unprepared, use another climbers gear, then take off running down the hill without waiting for them. Seriously pal, that is a total dick move. Oh yeah, it also means that you were RESCUED. Funny how you conveniently overlooked that little fact. The overall tone of your TR is at best self promoting, and you continually drop little comments that evidence that you think you are just a mite better than all the other people on the mountain. Let me help you; you are not better than the "greenhorns from flat country." You just have a bigger mouth and inflated ego. You did a 5.1 ascent. That does not make you cool. You would be a lot better off if you grew some humility.
Ricky

climber
Sometimes LA
  Jul 16, 2013 - 12:18am PT

Tough crowd.
Curt

climber
Gold Canyon, AZ
  Jul 16, 2013 - 12:33am PT
At least we shouldn't feel quite as bad being trolled by a PhD, JD combo.

Curt
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
  Jul 16, 2013 - 01:18am PT
. . . at that time, the NPS prohibited solo climbing, unroped or otherwise

Yes. When I did my solos in the 1950s I had to sneak around. Actually made it more enjoyable!
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:33am PT
Incidently, three accidental falls on the Grand last week...one climber slipping on snowfield and crashing into morainal rocks...one fall on North Ridge...and one fall on the Golden Staircase pitch. All received assistance...two evacuated by helicopter.

There have been a fairly high number of rescues this summer. In one tragedy, three weeks ago, a Colorado Springs climber, Gary Miller, slipped on steep snow below SE side of the Grand and fell into any icy water moat. He was pulled out but died shortly after.

Best wishes to Grand Teton climbers. Come back safely...
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Jul 16, 2013 - 08:24am PT
Rappel straps . . . Yikes!
jopay

climber
so.il
  Jul 16, 2013 - 08:55am PT
Yes it is a tough crowd, something tells me he would have been just fine had he not encountered the climbing party and the offer of a rappel, he would have figured it out and got down those chimneys. He winged it something most all of us have done and it worked out, such is the spirit of FA. So he didn't check all the proper boxes neither have most of us, but he got up it. "Fortune Smiles on Boldness".
Branscomb

Trad climber
Lander, WY
  Jul 16, 2013 - 11:14am PT
Hey, he did it; we're just sitting here reading about it.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jul 16, 2013 - 11:51am PT
Branscomb, quite a few of the responders have soloed numerous routes in the Tetons and elsewhere at a far higher level of technical difficulty and commitment, so there is a lot of opinion here that is very far from being armchair-based.

Mr. Roots is an experienced hiker but obviously a novice a climber. He could have written a trip report in another way and gotten nothing but the usual positive responses---in reality, this isn't a tough crowd at all when it comes to TR's---possibly tempered with some gentle reminders that he might have been in over his head without realizing it.

Instead, he wrote a piece laced with disdain, gross inaccuracies, and boasting, and pretty much got what such things deserve.
Branscomb

Trad climber
Lander, WY
  Jul 16, 2013 - 12:21pm PT
His description does come off as rather egotistical etc, etc: I grant you that. Let him have his day and the rest of us, with apparently lots more experience, can take the caution. Whatever.

His description does make the Grand sound like a somewhat trivial pursuit that always has some kind soul around to provide a rappel. People have been killed on the OS and the exposure is awesome down the Black Ice. The only time I ever did it, it was veraglassed and iced in the chimney and it took me an hour of whining to scratch my way up. I think it's kinda cool he soloed it car-to-car, but I would never do it.

The main concern might be that some noob would read it and think, oh yeah, let's go and end up way over their head. Hopefully all these comments would give such budding alpinismus the second thought that maybe sheer luck had a lot to do with his success and survival.
JLP

Social climber
The internet
  Jul 16, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
Fuk'n Texans, what a joke...
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jul 16, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
Lots of good comments, definitely some details could have been excluded in the report that may have saved this guy some chastising & made him seem like less of a loose cannon.

But-

He has written one more TR than many posters here & I give him some kudos for being himself & writing it like he perceived it. He had an adventure & shared it here which I always appreciate on any level. Troll or not.





I wonder if he will reply with more details?

Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Jul 16, 2013 - 02:32pm PT
Sick, brah.
Deekaid

climber
  Jul 16, 2013 - 02:38pm PT
maybe he is conducting a sociology experiment
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:23pm PT
I've gained respect for posters who tell us who they are, regardless of content.
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Jul 16, 2013 - 07:26pm PT
Frikkin' Texans.
chill

climber
between the flat part and the blue wobbly thing
  Jul 17, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
I think the fact that he's a lawyer pretty much explains this TR.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  Jul 17, 2013 - 01:10pm PT
Snowmassguy

Trad climber
Calirado
  Jul 17, 2013 - 01:19pm PT
Credit: Snowmassguy
bergbryce

climber
East Bay, CA
  Jul 17, 2013 - 01:31pm PT
Not sure I've ever seen so many tacoans get so butthurt over a TR.
Entertaining.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jul 17, 2013 - 01:36pm PT
A number of people have mentioned that this little adventure could very easily have turned out very differently. In fact, a hiker with a very similar level of experience to the OP fell to his death soloing the Owen-Spaulding route just two years ago: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2011/08/climber-dies-2500-foot-fall-grand-teton-national-park8551 .
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jul 17, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
I actually always thought the OP, ect was 5.6 or .7 also
I can check my guide book but my memory is good.
I have never climbed there but dreamed many times.

The O-S was done in 1898 or perhaps even earlier, and the first ropeless one-day ascent was in 1923. No way if the route was 5.6 or 5.7. In 1965 it wasn't even fifth-class. Ortenburger gave it an NCCS grade of F3, which corresponded to the old Teton Grade 3 and Sierra Club Class 4. Routes of similar difficulty in the Tetons and other areas can be found in Steve Grossman's posting of Ortenburger's Summit Magazine article; see http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1039859 .

Fast forward to 1994 and the Rossiter guide says the O-S route is 5.4---holy grade inflation Batman! There isn't anything on the O-S that would even remotely compare to a Gunks 5.4, that's for sure. Perhaps Rossiter is referring to the "chockstone chin-up" on the initial chimney? But that is easily bypassed...

If it is 5.0 then guides are charging 2000 bucks for a scramble.
Seems legit ..

There doesn't seem to be anything on the Exum site at that price. The Jackson Hole Mountain Guides have a four day ascent of the Grand, involving three nights at the Lower Saddle and apparently a day of training/instruction, for $1995 if done privately. The going rate for a day of private climbing on lower routes seems to be about $400, no bivy's involved, so the $2000 fee for four days and three nights does seem to be in line with other fees. Whether any of those fees are "legit" seems to be primarily a political issue.

In Canada most of the scrambles are 5.7 ..
And they are free ..

...as they are everywhere else. But if you want to hire a private guide for alpine climbing in Canada, it is going to cost $500 a day, exactly what the $2000 four-day Teton trip comes to. You wanna climb Robson, it's going to be about $3000 for the climb.

A noob thinking for himself is bad ass and way to stick it to the man ..

Unfortunately, Don Ivie didn't get the memo.
mojede

Trad climber
Butte, America
  Jul 19, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
Roger--good job on gaining the summit of the Grand. Living in Livingston, your next mountain summit mission should be the Black Spire/ Fire spire, 15 miles South of you in the Absaroka range.

It has seen only one unroped ascent, checks in at 5.8 (the easy way), and is pertneer 11,000 feet. Your skills at scrambling WILL not be of any use...


Credit: mojede
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Jul 19, 2013 - 02:59pm PT
WOW
disdain and sarcasm abound.

Round trip from the car in a day is Pretty Durned Good given your skill level and experience.

So, I'm not going to comment on Roger's ascent except to reinforce one thing he did right.
Downclimbing the OS is not trivial. I've done it, at the end of June, when I was much younger and very tuned up. And I feel lucky to be here to tell about it as the backs of the cracks were filled with ice making the belly crawl down tenuous at best.
Given your apparent skill level, I'd give you a 10% chance of making it.

You in fact did the right thing by hitch-hiking for the rappel descent. At least you didn't become a rescue or statistic.

But tennis shoes and blue jeans? ¿¿REALLY??
oh....and you were somewhat lucky with the weather. By mid-afternoon you really want to be down to the Upper Saddle at least, regardless of a blue sky morning.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
  Jul 19, 2013 - 03:01pm PT
Round trip from the car in a day is Pretty Durned Good

I agree!

Back in the 1950s I went up and down the Middle in a day, and up and down Teewinot in a day, but those were not particularly enjoyable excursions. Never much for aerobic feats.

You had an adventure to remember, Roger.
Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
  Jul 19, 2013 - 03:02pm PT
to the OP, good job. all these guys snarky comments are making you look really good.

MtnSavior

Mountain climber
El Paso, TX
  Jul 19, 2013 - 03:14pm PT
Another mountain challenge in the highest court of man, the mountain. May you contemplate mortality and the many lost souls on your elsewhere travels.

Namaste.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 19, 2013 - 06:33pm PT
But tennis shoes and blue jeans? ¿¿REALLY??


Descending the Owen-Spalding after a solo ascent of the Exum Ridge a few years ago, I encountered a hypothermic Boy Scout wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a sweat shirt... having been left by the rest of his group climbing for the summit.

The altitude and pace had apparently taken its toll on him and the scoutmaster had told him to remain at the Upper Saddle until they returned. The wind was blowing about thirty miles an hour. He was shivering badly but refused to come down with me.

I gave him a down sweater I carry in my pack for high mountain ascents and asked him to get inside a light sleeping bag cover I carry for emergency bivouacs.

I waited with him for two hours until his leaders and troopmates returned from the summit. Leaders leaving a thirteen year old in skimpy clothing in harsh high mountain conditions is quite shabby leadership in my view but I didn't attempt to reprimand them.

I won't reprimand you either, Roger...but please understand that some of the disapproving comments on this TR proceed from a life concern for "noob" adventurers undertaking an ascent of the Grand with minimal clothing and gear. Your lust for adventure is highly regarded...some of your comments are a mite cavalier considering how the uninitiated might construe them in an unfortunate way.
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jul 19, 2013 - 04:07pm PT
What's wrong with jeans?? Who doesn't climb in jeans?
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  Jul 19, 2013 - 04:09pm PT
Leaders leaving a thirteen year old in skimpy clothing in harsh high mountain conditions is quite shabby leadership in my view but I didn't attempt to reprimand them.


Idiot scoutmaster needs an ass kicking, not a reprimanding...
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Jul 19, 2013 - 04:11pm PT
Dick Cheney skis in jeans and all Texans appreciate Dick.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 19, 2013 - 05:09pm PT
Jennie, do you often get to the Tetons? I'll be there this week.....climbing complete Exum with a friend on Monday, 70th birthday on Tuesday, Caveat Emptor with High Traverse on Wednsday then home. Would be fun to meet.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Jul 19, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
Hi Jim...best 70th birthday wishes, I hope you and High Traverse have a super climb on Cathedral Rock...

I live only an hour from the Tetons. I'll be working this coming week but hopefully will get to meet you on one of your trips to the range.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
  Jul 19, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
Kudos for a non-climber bagging the big teet. Not bad for a lawyer.
ole, fat, grey

Mountain climber
Bozeman, MT
  Aug 19, 2013 - 07:25pm PT
Family members have encountered Roger a couple of times recently. Usually in unsatisfying situations. Most recently (8/18) Roger was encountered looking for upper exum route. My son directed him correctly when finding him above the needle going the wrong direction. Son, having previous knowledge of his attitude and demeanor assumed that we would be hearing of an NPS recovery (not search) in the near future.

By the way, that son guided me up OS route on 8/17 following a late start (9:30--due to no available campsites on mountain--didn't plan far enough ahead), perfect weather forecast, and persevering legs in a brief/painful 16 hours. We were just going to 'look, see'. Had full supply of harnesses and ropes just in case.

Since son didn't get enough exercise he then fulfilled a previous dream of a solo climb/run to top of Grand on 8/18. Four hours 50 minutes round trip from Lupine. He says it was easier with experience, skills, conditioning and no gear. Not recommended for the novice.
wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Aug 19, 2013 - 10:47pm PT
Guide services occasionally charge more than two thousand dollars to guide someone to the summit.

No they don't. At least not JHMG or Exum, the two guide services sanctioned by GTNP.

And be careful with the ratings in the Tetons. Richard Rossiter's ratings may be soft in some cases, the same as in his Boulder-area guidebooks (he's not a Teton local, by the way and some thought it presumptuous for him to write a guidebook for the Tetons).
The ratings in the Ortenberger/Jackson guide(s) are fully old school.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Aug 25, 2013 - 07:20pm PT
Both Mr Rossiter's guides and Ortenburger/Jackson guide rate the Owen-Spalding as 5.4.

The 1898 ascent and many other early ascents used the first chimney entrance just beyond the "Crawl". This passage required a chockstone pull-up or a shoulder stand for early climbers to access the upper part of the "double chimney".

Mr. Goldstone mentioned this...

Most modern climbers traverse a few feet farther north to the "second entrance" which is much easier if free of ice.

Because the classic route used the "first entrance" to the chimney...the guidebook authors listed the OS as 5.4.

The Owen Chimney, just above the Double Chimney is probably 5.1 or class 4 if free of ice.

The OS is very exposed as well as susceptible to icing...that, with the Tetons propensity for afternoon thundershowers establish it as a serious undertaking for beginners.
HuecoRat

Trad climber
NJ
  Aug 25, 2013 - 09:12am PT
Reading this TR reminds me of reading Aaron Ralston's book, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." Both were written for non-climbers, and both authors were clueless. Both also attempt to fool people into thinking that their authors are bad ass climbers. Roger's real error was in posting it here, where folks really know climbing and will call him out on his BS. By the way, didn't he say he was from Montana, not Texas?
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Aug 25, 2013 - 09:46am PT
Caveat Emptor is rated .10-? That is a sandbag!
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Aug 25, 2013 - 12:54pm PT
great reading, wholesome trolling. or maybe not? just like the arc of life ...
you know, one big self-sandbag alert unwisely dismissed, passing for valor
steve shea

climber
  Aug 25, 2013 - 04:07pm PT
Mr Roots embodies all the elements and characteristics necessary for a guided Everest trip. Just another accomplishment to tick off on the amusement park of life. Good fitness, lawyer (meaning financially capable) Texan, high opinion of himself, disdain for certain elemental procedures and techniques, the no big deal attitude after a successful trip etc. It is all there. He's ready for the South Col extravaganza. This is natural selection at work once again. As a detatched observer and long time resident of Teton County I'm no longer surprised. Sadly it has become common with most backcountry endeavors around here. Same church different pew would be the backcountry skiing now being attempted around here. Avalanche deaths are up significantly in the group that one would least expect; the so called experts. Attitude...
FörtMental

Social climber
Albuquerque
  Aug 25, 2013 - 01:20pm PT
he should unrope for The Nose.... I mean, if a woman can free it, how hard could it be?
yanqui

climber
Balcarce, Argentina
  Aug 25, 2013 - 02:25pm PT
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Aug 25, 2013 - 03:53pm PT
Teton climbers might find Jennifer Woodlief's recent book engrossing... detailing the 2003 lightning tragedy and rescue on the Exum Ridge of the Grand.

A Bolt From the Blue, Simon & Shuster

(An earlier, separate Grand Teton lightning disaster than the 2010 incident documented and discussed here on ST)

...perhaps limited relevance to this TR/thread...different route, different conditions...but very pertinent discussion of high mountain lightning dangers, typical Teton thunderstorms and helplessness of victims who survive a strike.
aspendougy

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Aug 25, 2013 - 04:20pm PT
Chris Chan was a very accomplished big wall climber who soloed the Zodiac on El Cap, then she lost her life free soloing (coming down) on Eichorn Pinnacle, back in 2010. So, if you factor in fatigue, altitude, crumbly rock, weather, soloing the Grand Teton is not risk free. Even climbers who feel comfortable at higher grades sometimes encounter unexpected conditions in these situations that creates a higher level of risk
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Aug 25, 2013 - 11:54pm PT
Teton climbers might find Jennifer Woodlief's recent book engrossing... detailing the 2003 lightning tragedy and rescue on the Exum Ridge of the Grand.

Saw the bolt that hit them from the Lower Saddle. Wild stuff. Never seen a helicopter pluck so many people so quickly.
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Aug 26, 2013 - 08:08am PT
Yes, that must have seemed unreal, Brian...glad you and your party weren't harmed in the storm.

The helicopter short haul process is awe inspiring...inserting eight rangers on exposed ridgeline at 13,000 feet...late in the day...evacuating five injured climbers and Erica's body before dark was a phenomenal performance. Had the event happened earlier in Teton climbing history, several victims would not have survived the night.

Rangers would have arrived later and cleaned up the carnage...but five or six fatalities would render a much sadder story.

Did you attend the success celebration in the Lower Saddle hut after the rangers had climbed down a few hours after dark?

Jennifer Woodlief researched the events thoroughly. I was living in Idaho Falls at the time of the events and heard accounts from some members of the party who weren't hit and climbed down on their own power. Jennifer inquired with all of the climbing rangers and the victims and put in print an excellent record of the incident...as well as a good analysis of lightning in the mountains.







Renny Jackson


tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Aug 26, 2013 - 07:47am PT
Peak scrambleing is great. that is what i did in the tetons when I was a 19yr old Noob. Just no need to trash talk eveyone else, especialy when he needed a rescue.
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Aug 28, 2013 - 10:56pm PT
Roger's adventures continue...

http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/gannett-peak-in-sneakers.cfm

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/misguided-on-teewinot/108311829
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Aug 29, 2013 - 12:30am PT
Even better the second time! I wanna party with this guy!
ThomasKeefer

Trad climber
San Diego
  Aug 29, 2013 - 12:36am PT
The comments about the 2003 storm are interesting. If anyone has the contact info for the author, I would be interested in talking to her. My friend Bill and I were on the route that day and we were racing against that same storm - we stopped at the friction pitch when the hail started because a huge group were pulling out all their bad weather gear. I urged them pretty strongly to either go up very quickly to then get down or bail into the Wall St. Couloir. We then left, simuling up in hail and driving winds. The lightning was very intense, initially on the middle and then it exploded on the grand. When we were descending we heard them calling for help and went back through the eye of the needle into Wall St. Someone was yelling for us to give them their rope which we offered to leave for them - in the end, we did not leave it since this guy was convinced that he did not need it in the end. He had rapped into the gully and we took on of the FRS radios to give to the helo team on the lower saddle. I ran down from there to the lower saddle and handed it to a SAR guy just as the helo touched down for the first run. I still think about that day and talking to them alot. I wish that I could have been more convincing or perhaps less focused on just getting up and over.
harryhotdog

Social climber
north vancouver, B.C.
  Aug 29, 2013 - 02:26am PT
I grew up in the shadows of the Crazy Mountains in Montana and have been climbing since I could first talk

That line might be the best line I have ever heard on ST.

I enjoyed reading this but agree with others that you might have got into trouble descending in rain or snow without a rope if others weren't around.
Nevertheless sounded like a great adventure for you and one I would love to do. Now go take some mountaineering/climbing courses or join a club and you will realize that the skills you learn will make your travel in the mountains SO much safer especially when you are soloing.

Is that where the "Crazy River" is.



mtndncer

Trad climber
oakland, ca
  Aug 29, 2013 - 03:52pm PT
It's unfortunate that this experience is tainted w/ego and selfishness. While soloing is selfish, I like to think I embark on this adventure to better connect to: myself, the rock, the river, the wind, nature...

Those who solo, hopefully do it ONLY for themselves and not to tell some tale after the fact!

Last year, just around this time and under the Blue Moon, I soloed the Upper Exum Ridge. I stayed at the Climbers Ranch and had a great experience and disagree that it is pricey! Really, $25 a night, in and around Jackson Wyoming???? The staff was incredibly generous, they had free good bikes you could use every day, backpacks you can borrow, the library has a free computer that was completely functional, the gave me a nice pad for sleeping... I highly recommend the Climber Ranch! And as the author mentioned, lots of interesting and generous people! PS - become a member of The American Alpine Club and it's only $14 a night not to mention lots of other great perks of being a member~!

I had 3 plans because 2 days earlier it hailed like nobody's business so I knew the mtn might be icy and wet. Plan 1, the preferred and easiest, was to do the Owens Spalding route.
I've been climbing for about 18 years and teaching rock climbing for about 15 and have had the luxury of climbing in a lot of amazing areas like Yosemite/Tuolumne, the Gunks, the Bugaboos, and a bunch of other places plus some I've had the good fortune of learning a lot from some of my climbing partners, who include Sharon Wood, the first woman to summit Mt Everest from the Western Hemisphere and an amazing Rock Climbing guide, Joanne Urioste, who as many of you know is a Red Rocks legend and Pionneer who we have to thank for putting up 100's of routes, maybe 1,000s in Red Rocks?
Anyway, I think I'm fairly experienced and have learned from some very accomplished climbers and although I never climbed super hard, I have a pretty good idea of my limitations. I have to say, any attempt at the Grand is serious, even for a seasoned veteran because the weather systems are so unpredictable and volatile.

This was my first attempt for the summit so the Owens Spalding seemed like the most logical and safest free solo. I should say I'm not a strong advocate for onsite free soloing but sometimes you have to make exceptions and hopefully you do your research and due diligence before hand and perhaps most importantly, you're not doing it for anyone but yourself!
I studied the routes and spoke w/many climbers, rangers and even staff at the Climbers Ranch. The info I recv'd was very valuable and I learned the Owens Spaulding may be icy and not climbable so my plan B was to climb the Upper Exum Ridge because this route gets more sun... The Upper Exum Ridge is a little tougher than Plan A but I also had Plan C, which was to turn around if Upper Exum Ridge was to icy and/or to difficult and consider it a hiking day. :-)

I left the Climbers Ranch around 3am and made it to the Lower Saddle around 7am, this is all from memory so the times may not be completely accurate.
I had a 70 meter 8.4 rope for the rap, harness, helmet, climbing shoes and lots of water, food and rain gear... my pack was pretty heavy.
I believe I was at the Upper Saddle around 9am and as I made my way through the saddle, I noticed large tents that were part of the Exum Guides program which are apparently staples on the mtn in the summer months.
I also noticed 2 guides and 3 clients making there way down the Saddle. The clients looked disappointed and I learned they attempted the Owens Spaulding but the route was WAY to icy so they had to retreat. I asked the Guides what they thought about the Upper Exum Ridge and they said if there was a route to do, that would be the one because it gets a lot of sun but I could tell they were sizing me up and encouraging me to only do it if I had a lot of experience... rightfully so, I think they probably don't want to see to many people soloing the Grand. Like the author, I dumped a fair amount of food and water at the Upper Saddle and proceeded to Wall Street.

About an hour later I was walking across Wall Street. Doing the final traverse of Wall Street was pretty scary. The good news is if you fall here, it's over, your not going to break a leg or have any chance of suffering, your dead, the drop off looked like about 1,000 feet. I attempted the traverse 3X but retreated back each time because my pack was heavy and it was super windy. I decided it was time to put on my climbing shoes but even than I wasn't feeling solid! I thought about breaking out the rope... but evaluated the traverse and noticed there was a ramp about chest height, which had undercling/lieback potential. I tried it and it went and although the grade "may" be a little harder than the traverse that was slightly lower, I felt more comfortable doing it this way.

After Wall Street, the climbing was just as challenging but not as scary because the exposure was less, but still serious. As I climbed, I noticed a party of 5 above me and this eliminated navigation for some time. I caught up to them and they graciously said I could pass. It was 2 parties being guided by 2 Exum guides, the clients were super nice, excited and having an amazing time but the guides seemed annoyed that I was soloing...

I reached the top around noon and had the summit to myself for about 20 minutes. I sipped scotch and felt very, very fortunate to be toasting to my father who passed away 14 years earlier on this day. Having a Blue Moon to boot, was the "icing" on the Teton!!!!

The descent wasn't as straight forward as I thought it would be so I was very deliberate and methodical in my navigation. The rappels were a little tricky because there was a ton of ice and the ledges were slick. I was back at the Climbers Ranch around 7pm.

I was fairly fortunate because I never got lost and the weather was fantastic all day!!

If you set out to solo the Grand, make sure you keep a close watch of the weather report. Speak w/people who have climbed it, guides, staff at the Climbers Ranch and definitely consider hiring guides. If you do solo it in a day from the Climbers Ranch, I HIGHLY recommend starting early and NOT starting the hike at 7am. Glad to hear the Author made the trip successfully but starting this late will only increase your risk of failure.

Happy Climbing Climbers!! :-)
Jennie

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
  Aug 29, 2013 - 04:05pm PT
Thomas Keefer,

Very interesting post.

Here is link to Jennifer Woodlief's website. I believe there is contact information there if you would care to communicate this.

http://www.jenniferwoodlief.com/
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Aug 29, 2013 - 05:08pm PT
Yes, that must have seemed unreal, Brian...glad you and your party weren't harmed in the storm.

The helicopter short haul process is awe inspiring...inserting eight rangers on exposed ridgeline at 13,000 feet...late in the day...evacuating five injured climbers and Erica's body before dark was a phenomenal performance. <snip>

Did you attend the success celebration in the Lower Saddle hut after the rangers had climbed down a few hours after dark?

Yeah, it was unreal. It rained that morning at around 5am and we had an extra night planned anyhow. So, with a juicy sky we sat out the day just chillin' as neither one of us liked the look or feel of the weather that day especially 'cause we had plans for a longer route. Went up early the next day and ran into the rangers till doing cleanup. I've been hammered by weather enough in the Tetons that I've gotten pretty conservative with it.

Honestly never seen the likes. How they plucked so many so quickly was really amazing. The weather was pretty poor right after the lightening strike (which was a weird deal in itself...the sky wasn't that dark, and, there weren't that many clouds around). Windy, spitty. Finally cleared up around 6 or after and they got everyone off just before dark. Watching that final trip leave was daunting (given the load we could see hanging below, we knew what was up).

We chatted with the rangers and guides on the Lower Saddle, but, they really had their hands full and we wanted to stay out of their business for sure. Leo was like frickin' superman. My partner knew Renny from ski patrol in Utah and I worked with his brother for years... Given the guides and rangers we've known over the years, it always seems like old home week up there.

Someday I'll scan my slides. Got a bunch of photo's of the scene up there.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
  Aug 29, 2013 - 05:20pm PT
Egads Renny is all gray now!

He was always grumpy/pessimistic/unsupportive when I talked to him... Course I was a cocky 20 year old kid asking crazy questions about skiing crazy stuff.. so I think I was just getting the.. YER GUNNA DIE and I'm gonna have to pick up the pieces treatment from him. Plus I worked for Genet.. don't think he liked them.
Unlucky

climber
Dallas
Author's Reply  Dec 1, 2013 - 02:26pm PT
As a great man once said, it is better to be stupid and say nothing.. than to open my mouth and remove all doubts. Sorry to everyone offended by my trip report. I didn't expect it would piss so many people off. Good luck to all of you!
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
  Dec 1, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
No offence. Provided a lively discussion.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 1, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
No offense at all, I think we just want you and other climbers to keep safe. It was an entertaining story!!!
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