Trip Report
Win some, Lose some. A Tetons TR.
Tuesday July 22, 2014 1:48am
Since I'm too busy (lazy) to keep a blog, I figured good ol' SuperTopo was the next best place for me to post a TR for this past weekend.

As much as I wish all the TRs I posted were winners - with the ups, come the downs, and this particular TR describes the latter.

Prior to this trip, I'd been to the Tetons precisely one time. When I was four. I don't have much recollection of being there, but I do have a picture of myself on a horse in front of the Grand. Twenty six years later, having been a climber for almost six years, it was time to return.

Being as it was my first real trip to the range (and my partner's), we thought it would be appropriate to avoid the obvious choice of the Grand, and instead get a feel for the area, and do something else classic - so we could return and pick the best way to summit the big one for the first time. A friend suggested Irene's Arete, and we were sold after looking at the guide book, Mountain Project, and whatever else Google returned.

After dispensing with work (why does everything go to sh#t on Friday afternoons when you have a trip coming?), and final packing, we hit the road from Salt Lake around 6:30. I had called the Jenny Lake ranger station on Thursday to see what they'd suggest for camping. I was told Gros Ventre camp was our best bet. I also asked Merrill at IME if there were any good spots for a quick bivy in the area, but apparently free camping is hard to find in the vicinity of Jackson.

(If any of the readership has beta otherwise they'd rather not publicly share, feel free to PM me. $23 for a spot to pitch a tent for a night kinda grinds my gears.) The AAC ranch DID have availability according to their website, but being as we'd arrive on the late side, it seemed both expensive, and rude (being as it's bunks only, they don't list tent sites) to show up so late for a few hours sleep.

We made it to GV Camp with only one stop for gas (also, FlyingJs have at least semi-decent pizza, for what it's worth), and were asleep by 1. Since the weather for Saturday called for 0% chance of rain, we gave ourselves a luxe 5 and a half hours of sleep before heading to the Lupine Meadows trailhead.

The drive, breakfast, and last minute packing put us on the trail at 8:25. We could probably have been a little more efficient, but we really thought that for our objective, with good weather, it wouldn't be a big deal.

Turns out we didn't factor in the last bit of route finding. As it was, we made it to the Petzold (BTW, wtf is up with the spelling of Petzold(t)? This article - - isn't even able to use the same spelling within the same paragraph. Is there a T or not? I need to know!) caves in under three hours.

From there, my partner and I had a bit of a disagreement over how to get to the base of the route. I thought we needed to cross the snow gully around the same level as the caves, whereas my partner thought we had to go up and around the buttress one could see, higher up the gully. I capitulated, though it turned out I shouldn't have.

I'd like to take this time to point out that we've probably all made similar mistakes. Our photo copy of the Gams guidebook showed two paths leading to the right, with the lower path being marked with the word "NO!". Unfortunately, the Xerox took out quite a bit of fidelity, and I think this is what made my partner think we needed to go higher. While I was of course, super bummed that we didn't get to climb the route, due to our mistake - I think that being upset at my partner's judgement here would be severely misplaced.

We climbed up semi-chossy licheny rock, until it became clear we were too high up, with respect to the start of the route. We did our best to rectify this without re-tracing our steps, and eventually found ourselves down climbing a mini gully, of sorts. We did pretty well, until we hit a choke spot where it seemed we'd have to trust some fairly steep grass. Now, as much as it kills me to say I wussed out on a down climb due to grass, it really looked as if it was just steep and slippery enough as to be the kind of thing that would haunt you into the afterlife as to what lead to your stupid slip and fall death. There also happened to be a rap sling at this spot, though it looked old enough to be of the "butter knife would be overkill to cut through this" variety.

The existing rap station also made use of what looked like a pretty sketchy piece of rock, to us. There was a much bigger chockstone a little lower, which I down climbed to, though I couldn't quite get my arms to reach around it. I called my partner down to help try and get the rap set up, and I have to say, I hadn't felt so excited to feel another human's fingers since one of my first middle school hand holds. We just barely touched fingers to pass along my nylon bail webbing, and it was very reminiscent of Michelangelo's creation of Adam.

After tying a water knot Leubben would be proud of, we rapped. Not long there after, we made our way to the base of the route. Unfortunately it was 3PM til we got to what I think was the traditional rope up ledge. I climbed a pitch. We then decided discretion was the better part of valor, and bailed. After a lot of (at times sketchy) down climbing, we made it back to actual trail, and had a pleasant hike out.

The Tetons were gorgeous, and I think we could have crushed the route if we didn't screw up the approach so bad at the end. I even think we could have probably finished with some light, but didn't want to deal with route finding on the descent in the dark.

Side note, on the way home the next day, we stopped in Jackson for some food. I think it's definitely more bourgeois than anything I've encountered in Tahoe. Feel free to weigh in.

Anyway, in closing, great range, fun 10+ mile day anyway, and look forward to returning. I suppose if every trip worked out perfectly, it wouldn't be much of a sport!

En route to Irene's Arete
En route to Irene's Arete
Credit: SeanH
(had to upload at least one photo)

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About the Author
SeanH is a weekend warrior living the dream in SLC at the moment.

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Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 22, 2014 - 03:03am PT
One do my favorite routes in the range!

I have a CD guide book that is really good, with approach pictures.
You'll be ready to go next time, when we did it we were on the trail by 5 am?

Might be good to avoid thunder storms,

Don't know of good free camping, some risk a fine and bivy in their car in a parking lot.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Jul 22, 2014 - 03:30am PT
This is the correct spelling.

You've given a perfectly good, sensible report on what gentlemen do when confronting their mistakes: assume the responsibility.

Plus one for that. No need to explain the lack of photos!

Better luck next time.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 22, 2014 - 05:30am PT
What Mouse said. Thanks for the report, regardless.

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Jul 22, 2014 - 08:14am PT
More photos!

Sean on OZ
Sean on OZ
Credit: Vitaliy M.
Well here is on from toulumne :)

Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Jul 22, 2014 - 11:15am PT
Thanks for the report, Sean!

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Jul 22, 2014 - 01:05pm PT
x2 More photos!
Rockin' Gal

Trad climber
  Jul 22, 2014 - 05:30pm PT
Did Irene's two years ago. Hiked up to the Petzoldt caves the day before. For us mere mortals, bivying allowed us to get it done. I wouldn't want to be trying to find the correct descent gully in the dark. You'll get it next time.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jul 22, 2014 - 05:53pm PT


Trad climber
Northern California
  Jul 22, 2014 - 07:17pm PT
Thanks for the good read. Look forward to hearing about your next time.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, A sailboat, or some time zone
  Jul 22, 2014 - 08:02pm PT
That was really great! More soon, I hope!


Social climber
  Jul 22, 2014 - 10:42pm PT
hey there say, seanH... very nice... thanks for sharing your trip :)

oops, forgot--edit:

as to ending quote, nice good attitude, :)
Anyway, in closing, great range, fun 10+ mile day anyway, and look forward to returning. I suppose if every trip worked out perfectly, it wouldn't be much of a sport!

say, thought of another edit:


for the extra photo:
thanks for the added photo, vitaliy, always good to help out, :)

Trad climber
Author's Reply  Jul 22, 2014 - 11:34pm PT
Thanks all. Headed out somewhere fun again this weekend, hopefully return with more pics and a longer TR.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Jul 22, 2014 - 11:42pm PT
Lol.. Getting lost is a right of passage here in Squamish... You'll sort it out next time!

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jul 23, 2014 - 12:20am PT
It would be fun and interesting if more people posted TR's about their failures. Successes are all the same, but each failure is unique and worthy of celebration!

An interesting question: what was the earliest you turned back? (Perhaps we should eliminate morning storm retreats from the mix...)

I failed in my first attempt to climb Mt. Moran when I stepped in a bog on the hike around Leigh Lake, sunk in up to my knee, and had the boot sucked off my foot when I extracted myself. In addition to getting nowhere near the route, I had to do the return walk of shame with only one shoe.
Bill Mc Kirgan

Trad climber
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  Jul 23, 2014 - 03:50am PT
Thank you for sharing this experience and your thought process. The real prize is the adventure, and you and your partner had a safe one. I would count this as a great success because even though you didn't achieve your original goal, you have learned enough about the route to give it a good try next time. Good Job!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
  Jul 29, 2014 - 01:00pm PT
This one prompted me to finish up a TR of a success of yours to balance things out :-)
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