The Grand: Record of my Summit-4-Someone Charity Climb

Rock climbing is a necessary endeavor for mountaineering, at least that is what I believe, and that was why I started to rock climb a couple years ago. During the occasions I have spent on rocks, I have gradually discovered the charm of the sport itself; however, to me, there had been something missing. I did not know what the missing component was, but I knew I needed it to extract the buried determination to become a better climber. The Grand climb terminated the long search and provided the last piece of the puzzle.

I arrived at Jackson Wyoming around noon on August 25, 2007, less than a week apart from my last field trip: a ten-day AMC major excursion in Yosemite. The weather was touchingly pleasant, especially when I compared it to the torturing hot and dry Sierra climate. If not because of the skyrocketing real estate market and flooding tourists wandering on the streets, Jackson is almost a paradise.

I walked in the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (JHMG) office for a gear check. All I had in my backpack was my personal clothes, toiletries, snack food, water, and a headlamp; and this backpack was all I had to carry during the climb. The sleeping gear and climbing gear were waiting for us at 11,000 feet, where the Corbet High Camp lies below the Eastern face of the Grand and the Teepe Glacier. A light backpack!? Breakfasts and dinners would be prepared by the guides!? I felt like I were a nobleperson. “This climb is gonna be easy,” I thought, which was soon proved to not exactly be the case.

On the first day, which was the approach from Lupine Meadows Trailhead (6,780 feet) to Corbet High Camp, we had 4,200 feet of elevation gain over six miles. Even with a light pack, my legs could still feel the demanding grade of the slope, and the steepness of the hike soon translated into the stiffness of my legs. Well, the hike was in fact not difficult; it was my false expectation planting the suffering seed. I had it coming. We got to the camp early, but it was way too early for me to crash on my sleeping pad. I dozed through dinner time, vaguely remembering people were planning to wake up early the next morning to watch the total lunar eclipse; of course my eyelids were stubbornly shut until the first sunlight.

The second day was sweet and light. We practiced climbing basics around the camp, scrambling, bouldering, knot tying etc, and went to bed early in order to manage an alpine start.

On August 29, the summit day, we left the camp around 4:30 in the morning, wearing headlamps and putting on all available layers. We marched silently, one after another, from easy hiking to fourth class scrambling; we traveled across the desolation of the surrounding mountains which was magnified by the moonlight; we traversed over exposed rock faces and passed through the narrow Eye of the Needle. Standing at the start of the fifth-class climbs, the revealed ice told us that the sun would not give us any warmth. The endlessly blowing wind warned us not to beg for any mercy; we had to keep moving.

Reluctantly I took off the fleece gloves to climb the Pownall-Gilkey (5.8); the detached cold current wound its way from my fingertips to my nerves; a sudden shivering dusted off some goose bumps. I sighed, putting my palm so close to my lips, but the cold mass was so powerful that I realized sighing was simply a complete waste of time. I finished Pownall-Gilkey and the remaining fifth-class climbs without any more catchpenny tricks. The summit was not far away.

“There is nothing more to climb” was not the only reward the Grand had to offer. Looking down from 13,770 feet, I could see why the Tetons are the birthplace of many great climbers/alpinists. The Tetons are the place to climb; it is plain simple like that. I remembered I started to rock climb because I wanted to be an all-around mountaineer, but not until today did I climb a peak with rock climbing skills; in other words, not until today, did my initial motivation become a reality. The image I gathered here will always revive in my mind as a driving force whenever I struggle on placing a pro (protection gear) or figuring out the moves for a crux (the hard part of a climb).

I am most grateful to people who generously donated to this charity climb. In addition to the fact that many at-risk youth will benefit from the funds, as you can see, this climb has brought new meaning to my future climbing. I also want to thank everybody who encouraged me and sent me their best wishes before the climb. Your support keeps me on course and helps remind me the true joy of embracing the outdoors.

Appendix: The Itinerary (A summarized version of the itinerary provided by JHMG)

Day One – Approach to Corbet High Camp – August 27, 2007.

Lupine Meadows Trailhead (6,780 feet); Lunch at Lupine Meadows (9,000 feet); Switchbacks leading up to the North Fork of Garnet Canyon; Water replenishment at the Petzoldt Caves (9,600 feet); Steep hiking into a beautiful alpine arena leading to Corbet High Camp (11,000 feet).

Day Two – Training: Rock Climbing on the Garnet Tower – August 28, 2007.

Day Three – Summit Day – August 29, 2007

A less crowded variation of the Owen-Spalding route, including 2,700 feet of elevation gain, loads of great scrambling, three easy
fifth-class pitches, and a rappel.

Corbet High Camp (11,000 feet); A hike through moraine and an ascent of a 50-foot fixed rope to the Lower Saddle (11,600 feet); A windy hike to the Black Dike; 1,000 feet of second and third class scrambling to the Upper Saddle (13,000 feet); Diverging from the Owen-Spalding and ascending via the Pownall-Gilkey (5.8; 5.6 A0) named after the 1948 first ascent team; fourth-class climbing on Unsoeld’s Layback or up Sargent’s Chimney; the summit of Grand Teton (13,770 feet).

6 thoughts on “The Grand: Record of my Summit-4-Someone Charity Climb”

  1. 我想說一件跟這篇文章沒有絕對關係的事

  2. 小 Po

    好久不見,最近好嗎? 似乎掛掉了,信被退回。

    我上個月剛跟車隊朋友去舊金山跟 sun valley 騎單車回來,詳相簿

    最近我在尋找登山用的手錶,需要有高度及方位顯示的功能(在sun valley 吃了悶虧,台灣摩沒麼高的山路可以騎),

    Suunto 有口皆碑,不過價位不低,放在最後考慮。
    較普遍的是 Casio 的 pro trek(美國好像是叫做 pathfinder) 系列,評價有好有壞。
    Highgear 好像也不錯,但相關資訊更是少,這家公司的手錶怎樣呢?


  3. Ting Ting!!!
    Fantastic writing about the Grand Teton climb!! It brought back such great memories of how exciting and fun that 3 days really was. We had a fun group and it was great to have you there. I hope you are doing well. Take care!!!

  4. Pingback: LittlePo: An Outdoor Blog » Blog Archive » From Being Guided to Guiding - A record of an all-woman expedition

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