Trip Report
Mt. Moran and The Grand, Part II
Saturday August 24, 2013 5:09pm
Looking up Garnet Canyon toward the Middle Teton
Looking up Garnet Canyon toward the Middle Teton
Credit: Jeff(m)

[Continued from Part I]

We joined forces with some friends from Pittsburgh on a similar itinerary and got backcountry permits arranged for all of us to stay two nights at the Petzoldt Caves which are six miles in from the Lupine Meadows trailhead and two miles down from the Lower Saddle between the Middle and Grand Tetons.

At the trailhead by 8:00 am, we had setup camp by 2:00 pm and headed up to the Lower Saddle to scope our routes and stash our racks and ropes. From the Caves to the Lower Saddle was about two hours.

We chatted with two Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers who were helpful in pointing out route features, best approaches and best escapes. They also gave us tacit approval to stash our gear in the bear boxes given the relatively few people camping at the Saddle that night.

On the way back down to the caves, Kevin could not resist a little boot-skiing in the snowfield and we did a reasonable job of coordinating start times with the climbers staying at the Saddle and Moraine – everyone seemed to be doing some portion of the Exum ridge. Only the guides were cagey about their plans. The result was well staggered start times and almost no waiting for other parties.

On the way back down to the caves, Kevin could not resist a little boot-skiing in the snowfield and we did a reasonable job of coordinating start times with the climbers staying at the Saddle and Moraine – everyone seemed to be doing some portion of the Exum ridge. Only the guides were cagey about their plans. The result was well staggered start times and almost no waiting for other parties.

At 3:30 am sharp we were on our way, 5:00 am we hit the Lower Saddle and by 6:15 am we were climbing the first roped pitch. We were advised by the Climbing Rangers to traverse over to the Petzoldt Ridge and follow the ramp back to the Exum. We got off the ramp a bit early, adding a short 5.something chimney to our day.

Blackface on the Lower Exum
Blackface on the Lower Exum
Credit: Jeff(m)

The Lower Exum is a classic climb: chimneys, face-climbing, and hand-cracks on black and gold Teton granite. The highlight for both of us was the Black Face – steep rock with holds when you need them. It protects well and blends into a less featured gold face with crystalline slopers and just enough cracks for pro and finally terminates on a nice ledge with a great view. It is one of those pitches that you are happy to be on, happy when it ends, and then right away want to do it again. One more pitch and we were at the junction of the Upper and Lower Exum. Despite it being after noon, the sky had cleared and we decided to push for the summit.

On the Upper Exum, we knew we really had to push our speed limits to reach the top and descend before dark. We started simul-climbing. But, because of the angle and winding nature of the route, rope drag really became an issue. We switched back to pitching it out, realized the time it was taking and adjusted again by modifying our simul-climbing technique. Now, we stayed closer together, I tried to sling high-horns to keep the rope from catching on every corner. After some initial radio calls to Andy and Matt to confirm prominent features along the route, we realized we were well to the left of the official route.

View from the summit of the Grand Teton
View from the summit of the Grand Teton
Credit: Jeff(m)

With a setting sun, we decided that ‘up was right’ and that the ridge would end at the summit one way or the other. Our eventual course did not match the guide book, but it did end at 13,770’ at 6:06 PM.

Kevin on the Summit
Kevin on the Summit
Credit: Jeff(m)
Jeff on the summit
Jeff on the summit
Credit: Jeff(m)

We took a few pictures on the summit, chatted with a party right behind us, and headed for the Sergeant’s Chimney rappel. There was a little ice in the chimney (not a problem for the descent) and the second rappel was just below. Route finding was fairly easy with the pointer Andy and Buttercup gave us of “keep heading toward the Enclosure Summit.” We scrambled down the Owens Spalding, apparently taking a wrong turn in the twilight. This added a third rappel as the gully cliffed out. There was a well placed boulder already wrapped in fresh cord; we were clearly not the first party to take that turn. And, given that the party behind was following our lights, not the last. We hit the lower saddle at 8:30 pm and rejoined Andy and Matt back at the Caves at 10:10 pm, able to celebrate the success of four ECP’ers that day.

The next morning brought another day of sunshine and blue skies. After a leisurely breakfast, the four of us compared notes, packed up, and chatted with a group of rangers who had come up to climb Irene’s Arete before heading back down Garnet Canyon. Back at the Ranch we met up with Felipe and Sam who were back from a successful climb of Mt. Moran via the CMC route. A celebratory dinner at the Rendezvous Bistro, many fun and sometimes scary climbing stories and a failed attempt to enter the Million Dollar Cowboy bar ensued before crashing back at the Ranch.

  Trip Report Views: 804
Jeff(m)
About the Author
Jeff(m) is a trad climber from Pittsburgh.

Comments
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ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Aug 24, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
hey, nice TR and nice headstand (not sure I want to try that...)

Lower Exum looks really cool, though most just do Upper. Looks like you guys cruised it

did you do any pre-climb acclimatizing? I'm guessing if you came fresh off the tarmac from Pittsburgh, you probably wouldn't be too spry above 10,000

how does one fail to enter the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar??? that's the one right by the park in town, right??? what the hell is going on??
Jeff(m)

Trad climber
Pittsburgh
Author's Reply  Aug 24, 2013 - 10:40pm PT
We flew into Denver and drove, so we had a day of driving, then a day of low-key approach to Mt. Moran (part I of the TR). The altitude did not hit us too bad.

Not getting into the bar said more about the group I was with than about the bar... long story to share over a beer.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Aug 25, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
Way to get after it, Jeff! What else is on your Western States tick list?
Jeff(m)

Trad climber
Pittsburgh
Author's Reply  Aug 26, 2013 - 03:20pm PT
Marty - Full disclosure: Trip was 3 years ago! That is about the spacing of my long-distance adventures. My mind is making the transition from rock to ice right now... while my body is stuck behind this desk.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 26, 2013 - 07:38pm PT
good job, and thank you!
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