The Grand Teton – Wyoming
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller
Why This Mountain?
We signed on for a climb of The Grand Teton early on when we first decided to do 52 Peaks. We knew we wanted to hit a peak in the Tetons and after some careful consideration decided to go big and go for the Grand. This will be the one true rock climbing mountain that we have scheduled. Rock climbing is a skill set that is still fairly new for both of us, so we will be taking a two day class and then going on a guided climb. For Tami, if all goes well, she will be on the Grand Teton the day of her birthday!
Mountain & Route Facts
Grand Teton is the highest mountain in Grand Teton National Park, in Northwest Wyoming, and a classic destination in American mountaineering. Grand Teton, at 13,775 feet is the highest point of the Teton Range, and the second highest peak in the U.S. state of Wyoming after Gannett Peak. The Teton Range is a subrange of the Rocky Mountains, which extend from southern Alaska to northern New Mexico.
There is a dispute over the first ascent. Nathaniel P. Langford and James Stevenson claimed to have reached the summit on July 29, 1872. However, some believe their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. William O. Owen and Franklin Spalding reached the summit in 1898.
We climbed the Grand Teton with Exum Mountain Guides. For two days, we took classes learning the technical skills needed for the climb. We then did a two day ascent of the mountain on Sept 1st and 2nd. A short section of the route is highly exposed and previous alpine climbing experience is recommended before attempting an ascent; nonetheless, athletes with no prior climbing experience regularly reach the summit. We climbed via the Owen-Spalding route. The Owen-Spalding route begins at the Lower Saddle which is reached by walking from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead to Garnet Canyon and then up to the Lower Saddle on a trail that’s fairly well defined. The more technical & exposed part of the climb begins at the Upper Saddle. The first day, we hiked to the Lower Saddle which was almost 7.5 miles and almost 5,000′ of ascent. This section was non-technical and we only had to wear helmets for the last mile where there could be falling rocks. We stayed overnight at a hut at the Lower Saddle. This was a very rustic hut with a square footage of about 200 square feet. Fourteen people slept inside the hut. No running water, but there was a stream to get water to boil for dinners. On the second day of the climb, we work up at 3:45 am to begin a 5am climb. It is about 2.5 miles from the Lower Saddle to the summit and back, but it took 8 hours. We had one pitch and a lot of bouldering on our way to the Upper Saddle. We wore full climbing gear the entire time. It was cold with a very strong wind. From the Upper Saddle, we did 8 pitches to complete the climb to the summit. After the summit, we descended from the Lower Saddle the same day (after an equipment change and quick lunch). We descended back down 7.5 miles to the trailhead in about 5 hours. In total, the climb for Grand Teton was 17.24 miles with 7,202′ of ascent.
Historical and Cultural Information
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. It is the tenth largest state by area, and with population smaller than 600,000 people it is the least populous and the second least densely populated of the 50 United States. Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho. Cheyenne is the capital and the most populous city in Wyoming, with a population estimate of 62,448 in 2013.
The western two-thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains. Wyoming is also home to Yellowstone National Park, which was the first National Park created in 1872. Attractions in Yellowstone park include Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Several Native American groups originally inhabited the region now known as Wyoming. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. What is now southwestern Wyoming became a part of the Spanish Empire and later Mexican territory of Alta California, until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, itself guided by French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau and his young Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, first described the region in 1807. At the time, his reports of the Yellowstone area were considered to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The Oregon Trail later followed that route.
After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region’s population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. Congress admitted Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890.[
On December 10, 1869, territorial Governor John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first territory and then United States state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. Due to its civil-rights history, Wyoming’s state nickname is “The Equality State”, and the official state motto is “Equal Rights”.