August 22, 2016

Lowe Route-Lone Peak

On Saturday, Jason and I were able to get together again, enjoy some fine mountain air and share yet another most excellent outing. Ashamedly, I had never done the Lowe Route. It has been on my list for many years. Incredibly, we had the LP cirque to ourselves in an almost hauntingly calm morning. The steep granite walls received us like a cathedral beckoning the saint or sinner forward. 

Autumn was in the air and the granite felt like mid-September. The morning went off without a hitch, except for the clove hitch we had to use because Jason forgot his belay device. The route met every expectation, amazing setting with exhilarating exposure. A most magnificent alpine morning indeed.


Jason topping out on Pitch 1


Me looking down the incredible Question Mark Wall

Jason Dorais!









August 12, 2016

Grand Teton- Upper Exum- Parental Highlight-- August 10, 2016

Alex who is now 17 years old a few years ago climbed the Middle Teton with me. Upon reaching the top, the youngster got his first glimpse of the Grand Teton's magnificent south ridges. "Dad we gotta go there someday!" he quietly said, with the summer sun pouring morning rays over both of us.

In 1994, as a Teton rookie, I climbed the Grand Teton via the verglas laden OS route. Feeling as if I had just accomplished the greatest thing the world could throw my way, while hiking on to the Lower Saddle I came across a guy (who looked really old at the time) shouldering a big pack and his son about 15 or 16 years of age trailed behind. He told me proudly they were making a father and son attempt on the Grand. It impacted me and still does. 

Now, 2016, I am that older looking guy. I have spent more than 23 years in these mountains and have longed to experience what that dad did a couple decades ago. Lucky for me my son wanted to share it too.  After several months of climbing routes together this year and lots of great talks, August 10, 2016 finally arrived. Originally planning to camp on Wednesday and then summit via the Upper Exum Ridge on Thursday, the weather was quickly deteriorating for Thursday. So, it would have to be done all in one day. A tall order for anyone to fulfill, much less a 17 year-old fast food monster like my son. 

After leaving work late on the 9th and arriving at Lupine around 10:00 PM, we settled in the car and awoke at 2:05 AM and then departed with climbing packs at 2:30 AM. Alex took to the trail and the blackness of the morning like a true mountaineer. Upon entering Garnet Canyon, I encouraged him to douse his headlamp. Suddenly the massive black silhouettes of Nez Perce, South and Middle Tetons haunted the eyes of my son. He was overwhelmed and freaked by their brooding nature. We hammered up to the Moraine, passing guided groups on our right and left all who were doing routes other than ours.  At 5:45 AM we reached the Lower Saddle. The climb was on and so was the wind. The Lower Saddle seems to always have morning winds, we hoped they would die down.

Wall Street and the entire Upper Exum were as wonderful as always. We simul-climbed everything except the Golden Stair, Friction and V pitches, where at these we set belay stations. Alex was incredible and so was the wind. We topped out at 9:05 AM. Alone we were, on top of a mountain that has greatly impacted my life. To share the views and discussions of the many memories was magical for me. Thank you Alex!

The rappel, was problematic due to the 50 MPH wind. We were climbing with a Beal twin rope set up and each cord was so dang light,  as I tossed the rope it would fly back up around us. We worked it out and I descended first after rehearsing the details of the rappel, over with my young son. I also tied a back up prusik for some redundancy for him. He really wanted to rappel this on his own. At the bottom, on the upper Saddle of the Grand and the Enclosure Peak, amidst raging winds, I waited for him alone to descend. I held the rope (to aid in controlling his speed). All I could do was trust that all those days of learning would prove successful for him and bring him safely to me.  It did and he arrived completely blown away by the crazy wind and exposure.  

I thought of that seasoned guide and young dad who perished one week prior in that very spot where I stood.  I suppose he is now awaiting the arrival of his family too, standing alone, trusting that he taught them everything he could, in hopes their lives will prove to be safe and successful. 

We relished at the Lower Saddle, nestled between the Middle and Grand Tetons while hiding from the wind and reflecting on the morning. After some photos we then descended, arriving at our car just after 4 PM that same day.   

Wall Street and Exum Guide Silhouette

Morning light and the Golden Staircase



Friction Pitch and wind spinning the cords




V Pitch



  
Getting there


Summit! 


Alex 






Crescendo




August 7, 2016

Hailey Washakie Loop- Wind River Range

This past week, my sons and I, my brother and his boy and Mike and his sons made up our group of wandering travelers in the high Wind River Range. These mystical white granite mountains beckoned our suburban-ridden souls and delivered a memorable impression on each one of us. 

Each year my brother and I take our sons on a multi-day backpack trip. This year after studying maps and blog data, I created an itinerary that I felt our group of young ones would manage, albeit with some suffering. Fortunately, the stars aligned. We were able to get away from work and the demands of life and dive into this great and wild range.

Spanning over five days, these young men and their dads learned some important life lessons. The kids dug deep and pushed one another over nearly 40 miles, crossed over the Continental Divide twice and experienced peace and solitude only Nature can provide. Our boys range from 17 years of age down to only 9. They all did remarkably well.  We travelled from Big Sandy, going over Hailey Pass to Washakie Pass looping back to Big Sandy.

Day One  (10.5 Miles)

  
Cousins

  
Skull Lake - End of the Day
Day Two- (7 Miles)
Hailey Pass- 11,200


The man and mighty Mt. Hooker  
Beach on Grave Lake
Day Three (5 Miles)
Mike and the waking light on Grave

 
Washakie Basin
Lake Washakie

  
Washakie Trout
Day Four (9 miles)
Awakening
Macon Lake
Youthful longing for a couch
Washakie Pass-11,600

Shark's Nose, enroute to Dad's Lake
Day Five (6 miles)
Dad's Lake

Jeff 
One last look back

June 25, 2016

More LCC Granite

This week, Alex and I got out on a route I hadn't visited in far too long.

Alex leading us on the traverse to Sasquatch "Cain?"
Alex seconding past the roof
Topping Out

June 18, 2016

The rock remains the same

Last week my brother emailed me a picture he took of his nephew, my son probably a decade ago. Seen below, Alex has changed, but the crack on this Wasatch classic remains the same.  This morning I got to reflect on many good times together.  This route has been part of my life for 20 years. Many friends, family have spent hours with me here. 

Alex- 7 yrs old pretending to belay me- Credit Jeff Ambrose

Alex today
Alex seconding Green A
Couldn't resist this shot of unknown climber on Gordon's Hangover