Monday, June 9, 2014

The Climb(s) of July 17, 2012

These photos have been a long time coming...

Two summers ago my good buddies Josh Stafford and Steven Neundorf and I embarked upon one of our typical Jackson Hole adventures - but this one set the bar a bit higher for ourselves. We decided to hike/climb the Middle Teton and South Teton peaks in one day.

I've heard this was almost always done historically whenever one decided to climb Middle or South Teton - you just have to do both since they are so close!

We started our hike dark and early at around 5:45am, if memory serves me right. We hiked for about 45 minutes when the sun started rising, at which point we were rounding the bend into Garnet Canyon.

Looking east, down Garnet Canyon.

Looking west, up Garnet Canyon - featuring part of Middle Teton.

We reached "The Meadows" camping zone in Garnet Canyon when the sun was still just hitting the peaks of the Tetons. We were making great time! At this point there is already a good amount of bouldering necessary - following cairns through a boulder field.

"The Meadows" camp zone in Garnet Canyon.

From there we began the slow and tedious ascent up the boulder/scree field to reach the saddle between Middle and South Tetons (left of Middle Teton in photo above). It was a bit sketchy attempting to find solid footing on a steep slope of small rocks, but we were able to follow the normal route most of the way. We brought ice axes to cross snow and helmets to protect in case of any rockfalls. When we finally reached the saddle, we saw signs of only one other climber who followed us from The Meadows. We took a break at the saddle with this view:

From the saddle, looking west. Iceflow Lake below, Cascade Canyon beyond that - and eventually Idaho.

The climber caught up with us and he seemed an interesting guy - a professing believer in Christ. We would cross paths a few more times throughout the day (he was also hiking Middle and South Tetons).

To summit Middle Teton, we had to climb up a snowfield and then enter the narrow couloir nicknamed "ping pong alley" (the reason we brought helmets). As we were about to the top, we saw a group descending a different route. So we weren't the first group up that morning, but we were second! Plus we started all the way at the bottom of the mountain whereas they had camped in The Meadows the night before.

An accidental shot, but cool-looking double-shot of Steven Neundorf near the top of Middle Teton.

A bit of class 3 & 4 scrambling/bouldering, and we reached the summit! It was an incredible, breathtaking experience stepping up to the final elevation and looking down into the incredible vista of Jackson Hole.

From the summit of Middle Teton, looking east down Garnet Canyon.

Looking north towards the Grand Teton, covered in clouds.

Panorama of the view east.

Steven Neundorf on the summit of Middle Teton.

Josh Stafford eating lunch with quite the view!

The conquerors!
Descending Middle Teton back to the saddle wasn't too difficult, though we had a group following us down who caused a few rocks to slide towards us. For the snowfield right above the saddle, we of course had to slide down the snow on our rear ends - just for fun! You use your ice axe as a break - technical term for this method: glissading.

Steven Neundorf sliding down the snowfield from Middle Teton.

We then ascended South Teton, which was fairly straightforward and easy compared to Middle Teton. The views weren't quite as good - but still quite spectacular!

Looking north towards Middle Teton and Grand Teton. Cascade Canyon is hiding behind the clouds some, but you can see the green of the trees beneath the cloud.

Panorama from South Teton summit, looking north.

The conquerors of a second peak in the same day!

Picture taken by our friend we met earlier on the climb.

Josh Stafford looking east into Jackson Hole valley.

We hike down seemed endless, but we finally finished at around 4:30-4:45 and got home by 5:30 or so. To this day, it is still one of my favorite days of hiking.

Hope you all enjoyed reading and looking at the photos - we certainly enjoyed the experience!