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HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton
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keith_b00ne


Sep 23, 2009, 9:04 PM
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HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton
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I have approximately 7 years of sport climbing experience, but the only trad climbing I have ever done is guided trips such as Devil's Tower. I'm also an avid backpacker and have done my share of mountains, but nothing over 10k. Last year I visited Grand Teton and had the itching to climb it ever since so I am aiming for 2010. I am considering the OS route and the Exum route. I don't have any trad equipment, but have no shortage of ropes, harnesses, webbing, etc. Which route would you chose for someone with my experience. I am also trying to keep gear purchases down to a minimum. What should I do?


doons


Sep 23, 2009, 10:17 PM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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i'll check back in 2010 to read about your heli-rescue off of the grand.


sungam


Sep 24, 2009, 2:12 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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What you should do is google "exum guides".


keith_b00ne


Sep 24, 2009, 6:57 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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Your anti social response is noted. So thanks for being a jack ass.

Everyone has to break out into alpine style at some point and I am sure that you had a mentor too. My first step is to spend the fall with some friend's who are big wall climbers to learn to place gear. Second step is to purchase gear, but near RRG I would use mostly cams and tricams, but I hear that the Grand is great for nuts and hex's. Something I would never use in this area.

I hear that rock is better on Exum, but the OS is easier, though it can be iced up till late summer.

Still looking for constructive advice.


noodles


Sep 24, 2009, 7:31 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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OS has a lower amount of technical climbing. They're around the same difficulty as far as the climbing goes, the exum just has more true fifth class climbing.


colatownkid


Sep 24, 2009, 7:33 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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keith_b00ne wrote:
Your anti social response is noted. So thanks for being a jack ass.

Everyone has to break out into alpine style at some point and I am sure that you had a mentor too. My first step is to spend the fall with some friend's who are big wall climbers to learn to place gear. Second step is to purchase gear, but near RRG I would use mostly cams and tricams, but I hear that the Grand is great for nuts and hex's. Something I would never use in this area.

I hear that rock is better on Exum, but the OS is easier, though it can be iced up till late summer.

Still looking for constructive advice.

learning to place gear would be a wise start. as for tricams vs. nuts vs. cams, etc. it would probably be good to learn all of that anyway. a competent trad climber should know how to place a nut, cam, tricam, and/or hex, whether they own or use them or not. in my limited experience at RRG, you can use nuts, though i didn't place a single tricam while i was there.

as for the hexes thing; i don't know enough about the grand teton to tell you specifically. however, the use of hexes may be intended as a lighter-weight substitute for large cams when climbing alpine style.

the recommendation to hire a guide service is not bad advice. most people learn climbing from some kind of more knowledgeable mentor. lacking one of those, a guide is a good call. choosing not to do that, you're left with books and the internet--both can be great tools, but they can't really tell the whole story and they won't help you make judgment calls in the moment. you'll be learning by trial and error; the trick will be not making errors that get you killed.

it's kinda the unfortunate catch 22 of outdoor sports--once you're "in," you've generally seen enough to make good decisions. unfortunately, the only way to get "in" is to make/see/experience some of those bad decisions, which may adversely affect your health.

in summary: learn to place gear. get in kick-ass physical condition. read a lot. buy the appropriate amount of gear. try to find someone who's done this before to go with you your first couple times at least.


hansundfritz


Sep 24, 2009, 7:39 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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keith_b00ne wrote:

I hear that rock is better on Exum, but the OS is easier, though it can be iced up till late summer.

Still looking for constructive advice.

Okay, I'll give it a try:

1. Get the guidebook from Ortenberger (sp?). Rossiter published a selected climbs guidebook that is also good, especially for those two routes. Heck, if you're that obsessed, you'll probably want both.

2. I think your basic assessment of the difference between Upper Exum and Owen-Spalding is correct.

3. You don't necessarily need any "big wall" experience -- just lots of traditional lead climbing mileage. Not sure you can get that in one year, but maybe so.

4. Shortcuts might include hiring a guide (Exum Guides for example) or finding a more experienced partner.

5. All lead climbing racks should include at least one set of nuts. Sheesh -- RTFM. Generally, I think that the normal lead rack will be fine for the Grand.


olderic


Sep 24, 2009, 7:43 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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If you want to do it next year - and you want to do it with a minimal amount of effort - training and gear purchases then by far the most reasonable way is to find some one more experienced to take you - be it an outright guide (if you go that route get a real one - Exum or Jackson Hole - not a fly by night bandit) or a friend whio really is competent.

If you want to do it on your own then it is going to involve more time and effort then you seem to want to put into it. The choice is yours - I personally feel the rewards are proportional to the effort.


tetons


Sep 24, 2009, 8:03 AM
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Consider the OS, which is a good route with low technical difficulty, but very real mtneering challenges. What you need in terms of tech gear depends on you and your partner(s), but plan on later July into August and it'll likely be in good shape. (Not icy). It will challenge your routefinding, give you a good sense of time management on big peak, and generally be a good step up into a more alpine world. You won't be alone, either, which is both good and bad, but that's the way it is at that time of year. The only gear you might not have is a bit of pro, some stoppers and/or hexes, and a few cams if you want to spend some bucks on those pricey gizmos. Have fun. Watch the weather as your proposed climbing date approaches and be prepared to change objectives if the weather falls apart.


keith_b00ne


Sep 25, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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Thanks for the guidebook advise. There are a few skills I am confident in. First, as a trained pilot, I have extensive training in reading weather forecasts and clouds and should be able to make a safe go/no go decision. Second, as an avid outdoors man, I have the physical training and will continue training with weighted hill repeats, strength training, and long distance cycling. The only physical limitation I ever encounter is coming from 600 ft ASL going to altitude, but that is nothing I can't acclimate too. I am also familar with the Tetons and have hiked Middle Teton. I also feel that I should be able to lead a 5.4 trad by next year with training.

My concerns are: 1. Route finding 2. If the anchors and belay stations are not bolted, learning the technical knowledge of building good anchors for the decent and belays. Hopefully a good guidebook will help with number 1, and maybe I can get some of my more skill friends to tag along to help with number 2.


keith_b00ne


Sep 25, 2009, 10:53 AM
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3rd concern I thought of is having gear that is appropriate for either climb. I want to purchase/carry only gear that will prove useful.


brianinslc


Sep 25, 2009, 11:50 AM
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Re: [keith_b00ne] HELP: Want to climb Grand Teton [In reply to]
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keith_b00ne wrote:
My concerns are: 1. Route finding 2. If the anchors and belay stations are not bolted, learning the technical knowledge of building good anchors for the decent and belays. Hopefully a good guidebook will help with number 1, and maybe I can get some of my more skill friends to tag along to help with number 2.
3rd concern I thought of is having gear that is appropriate for either climb. I want to purchase/carry only gear that will prove useful.

1) Route finding is something you kind of figure out over time with experience.
2) None of either route has bolted belay or rappel stations. Standard rappel has some slings around a block.
3) Gear. You don't need much rack for either route, especially if you're good at route finding. Most "good" climbers routinely solo either route, so, the climbing isn't hard by any stretch. But, its not "paint-by-numbers" either.

If you're not good at route finding, because you've never done it, or, haven't done much of it, then it won't matter how good or bad the book is in terms of route descriptions.

Gear you purchase for climbing the Grand ought to work for any other climbing you do. RRG included. I've used nuts in the Red, and, carry hexes on my rack for alpine stuff because they're way lighter than cams and much cheaper to leave if need be. But, if cams are more useful to your local area, then, by all means, go with cams. Nuts and hexes really place very similarly, so, how to do that type of climbing should be a skill to learn regardless of whether your gear is nuts, hexes, tri cams, or a cord with a knot in it: its all passive pro.

Get a mentor and start learning how to trad climb. Doesn't have to be a "wall climber" per se either. You might also check a few "how to" books on how to place gear, what to look for, etc.

Get fast on "easy" fifth class terrain.

You know, hiring a guide might be a good option. You can learn a ton from especially Teton guides and if they know you want to learn, and not just summit the Grand, you can have them arrange your trip with that in mind.

Good luck.

-Brian in SLC


johnwesely


Sep 25, 2009, 12:15 PM
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keith_b00ne wrote:
I also feel that I should be able to lead a 5.4 trad by next year with training.

How have you been leading sport for 7 years and are not able to lead 5.4 trad? What do you lead on sport?


olderic


Sep 25, 2009, 12:24 PM
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"brianinslc wrote:
2) None of either route has bolted belay or rappel stations. Standard rappel has some slings around a block.

Actually the standard rap now has 2 sets of anchors and the new one IS bolts. They are basically side by side. Lots of hype over which one to use if you have a single 60 but I know that either one works fine.


keith_b00ne


Sep 25, 2009, 2:29 PM
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I currently lead hard 5.11 on sport and have climbed up to 5.9 trad on TR. If we go we will likely being carrying 2 - 60 meter ropes so I should have enough for the rappel.


kheegster


Oct 1, 2009, 4:31 AM
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Are you comfortable on Class 4 terrain? There are several exposed sections on the OS that are not part of the established pitches, and if you get off-route below the Upper Saddle (quite likely if you're unguided) you'll probably have to free-solo some 5th class moves.

The climbing on the technical portions is easy, but I think to move fast you need to know a bunch of tricks like moving on a shortened rope, doing quick hip belays and stuff like that. If you're uncomfortable on alpine terrain, set up 4-point belay anchors and plug pro every 10 feet, it'll take you ages to get up and you'll probably epic.

Unless you're already an experienced scrambler with a head for sketchy terrain, I'd have to say the getting a guide sounds like a great idea. Although with your climbing ability, I'd suggest doing the Direct Exum if you're going to get a guide.


stagg54


Oct 1, 2009, 6:34 AM
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The knowledge and experience required to climb either of those routes is much greater than the technical skill required. They can be and often are much more than simple rock climbing routes.

I did the OS this year over July 4th. I climbed the whole thing with approach shoes, aluminum crampons, and an ice axe with my belay jacket on. It was 40 degrees with 60mph winds. It was the hardest 5.4 I've ever climbed.

Then again about 3 years ago I did the Exum in shorts and a t-shirt at the same time of year.

Definitley make sure you have an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them. Snow falls are the number one cause of accidents and deaths in the Tetons.


stagg54


Oct 1, 2009, 6:37 AM
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oh and as was mentioned betting up to the upper saddle requires a significant amount of scrambling.
It's not too bad, but if you get off route it can be sketchy. And the route finding on the approach to the upper saddle is not entirely straight forward.


keith_b00ne


Oct 5, 2009, 8:02 PM
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Curious, but it is a little off topic. Where did you learn most of your alpine skills? Friends, trial and error, classes, or hired guides.


atg200


Oct 6, 2009, 1:57 PM
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I learned by putting in my dues first. I got solid and efficient at climbing long trad routes in friendly environments, and then the transition to alpine rock wasn't a big deal at all. I did plenty of ice climbing before i started doing alpine ice routes. I worked my way through hiking 14ers, doing them in winter, climbing high volcanoes in mexico, then ecuador, and then felt comfortable doing pretty much anything i wanted.

A guide or a very experienced partner is the only sane way to try to short circuit the learning curve, but it is always a good idea to have a strong base set of skills before getting too far out into the boonies.


reno


Oct 6, 2009, 1:58 PM
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keith_b00ne wrote:
Curious, but it is a little off topic. Where did you learn most of your alpine skills? Friends, trial and error, classes, or hired guides.

Some of all of the above.


eastvillage


Oct 6, 2009, 3:05 PM
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Well, you need a solid partner who shares your motivation.
And Time. Try to allow yourself plenty of time in the Tetons.
If you show up with a 3 day window, you are really cramping your own style, to coin a phrase.
I'd say try for a solid 2 weeks in the park, that way you have time to start with shorter climbs, maybe walk up the South Teton, etc, you know get acquainted, comfortable with place and yourself in it.
Hell your a newbie, enjoy it!
Also, get comfortable on long easy routes. Maybe hit Boulder first and knock off some Flatirons classics as a warm up.
What a great adventure to plan and train for.


kheegster


Oct 6, 2009, 10:01 PM
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I started off with a 2-week alpine climbing course in June last year in WA. That really taught me most of the basic alpine skills, but watching how guides work for that time period was probably even more valuable. Since then I've done maybe 4-5 climbing trips unguided, at first following more experienced people and then this year organizing and leading my own climbs.

Did the OS in early Sept... was aiming for the Direct Exum but weather started turning cold and didn't feel like doing an alpine start without warm clothing.

The technical portions were not difficult, but having the experience and mindset was crucial. The route was slightly iced up and it didn't really bother me when leading, but it was my partner's first real alpine climb and he was really sketched climbing the icy portions. There were 30-40mph winds, which I had dealt with before so it didn't bother me, but if it was my first time in conditions like that I would have been scared shitless....


jumpmedialtd


Oct 14, 2009, 5:55 AM
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keith_b00ne wrote:
Curious, but it is a little off topic. Where did you learn most of your alpine skills? Friends, trial and error, classes, or hired guides.
All of the above.
I did the U. Exum this summer. The climbing was not hard, did it in approach shoes. The key is route finding, which the guide books get you about 30%. The other thing is moving fast. Slinging blocks for pro and anchors, know your partner/second so you can determine if they'll need pro to help with a traverse, etc. Knowing when to simul climb or pitch it out. If you have these skills dialed in, it can be a nice couple of hours. If not, it can be epic. If you go on a nice weekend, you'll probably have several guided parties to follow which is convenient, but you can't depend on that.
The OS (on descent) was shady and did not seem nearly as fun as the UE. The advantage is that you descend the same way, again if you do it on a weekend, there will most likely be other parties on the descent (but can't depend on this).
A light alpine rack is fine, 8 nuts, 6 cams and 3-4 tri-cams is plenty. No quick draws, 6 slings, 2-3 double slings and 2-3 cordelettes.
Use your judgment, practice moving fast on easy trad climbs and you'll be fine next summer.


gimmeslack


Oct 14, 2009, 8:53 AM
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keith_b00ne wrote:
I have approximately 7 years of sport climbing experience, but the only trad climbing I have ever done is guided trips such as Devil's Tower.

I'm also an avid backpacker and have done my share of mountains, but nothing over 10k.

I am considering the OS route and the Exum route.

I don't have any trad equipment, but have no shortage of ropes, harnesses, webbing, etc. Which route would you chose for someone with my experience. I am also trying to keep gear purchases down to a minimum. What should I do?

I did the UE this past July, and it was my first real "alpine" climbing. So perhaps I can provide a noob's view. However, an important distinction is that although not a *strong* climber, I have been climbing 30+ years, and have done my share of 5.easy-to-moderate multipitch:

The climbing is never really hard (did it in approach shoes as feet were too cold to switch into my Mythos), but the setting is unforgiving and a fine outing could easily turn into a heli-rescue epic. There isn't enought TIME to fiddle with gear or belays, so it's NOT a good place to learn basics. It sounds like you *can* climb, but I'd suggest you get familiar with multipitch somewhere else.

It's soloed all the time, and I suspect you could do it with a handful of nuts and slings. A set of C4's make it go much quicker. But you won't need a huge rack and in fact, you're better off travelling light. It's a hump, if nothing else.

We did UE and decended on OS. I'm glad we did it that way, thought they would both be worthwhile. Frankly, the decent had potential for epics and as others have said, it's the route-finding that'll bite you if you're not careful.

You're a backpacker, so presumably you are used to "backcountry" travel, and have essential gear such as shells, headlamps, and required camping gear. That's a plus. I can't imagine a gym climber who's never slept in the mountains attempting an alpine route.

We camped two nights in Lower Saddle. I'm glad we did. My hat's off to those that hump in from a lower campsite and then summit, moreso to those that do it car-to-car. I can't begin to imagine that.Shocked

Yes, it is an advantage that the routes are mostly well travelled, so you can get some on-the-spot beta if needed (usually), but planning to depend on others would imho be a REALLY bad idea. Get the Ortenburger guidebook, do your homework, learn multipitch at local crags, get in shape, and get an early start from the Lower Saddle Wink

Hightlight of our trip was summiting along with Renny Jackson and friends (including other rangers) and then watching them suddenly dissappear as they downclimbed OS rap routes. Let's just say that we and the other party we were waiting to descend at the OS raps were, uh..., impressed?!? Shocked.

Oh, and yes, it was memorable and spectacular. I can't wait to go back!


(This post was edited by gimmeslack on Oct 14, 2009, 8:56 AM)

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