August 27, 2017

Grand Teton Direct Exum Ridge- August 25, 2017

21 years ago, a friend and I attempted the Lower Exum Ridge in a cool August morning. I had been climbing a whopping 1 year, had no idea what I was doing and I remember it took us probably 6 or 7 hours, got caught in a lightning storm, ax was buzzing and we bailed one pitch away from the top of the Lower Exum route! The first ascent party in 1936 completed the Lower Exum in 5 hours! In sneakers and driving pitons!

On Friday, August 25, 2017, Marc N, who had never climbed the Grand Teton and who had always wanted to and who is an excellent climber accepted my invite to go do the Direct Exum.  We left our car at Lupine Meadows at 2:20 AM on Friday, arrived at the base of the traverse to the first pitch of the Lower Exum at 5:40 AM, waited for light to come and then proceeded up the pitch at 6:30 AM. Once again the weather looked to be rough. We pitched out the 1st, 2nd and then linked pitches 3 and 4 together. Pitch 5, on the magnificent and steep Black Face, we did the direct Black Face Variation and then completed the 6th and final pitch of the Lower Exum in a crazy Teton micro-burst of snow and brutal winds, making for an epic morning. We completed the route at 8:30 AM. 

Now at the top of Wallstreet, beginning of the Upper Exum and at the base of the Golden Stair we hunkered down. Once the weather broke, we then stashed the ropes and soloed up the Golden Stair to the Wind Tunnel, where we hunkered down again for a more serious burst and realized it wasn't getting better so we needed to move if Marc was going to summit. We continued soloing up the Friction Pitch, V-Pitch and then roped for an icy last move heading to the final ridge. We summited at 10:40 AM, with sub-optimal conditions. Static electricity was building and my camera got fried. We took one summit pic and then moved quickly down to the rappels in freshly fallen snow, grateful to get off the mountain.  

Of course the weather got better as we descended. Reaching the car just after 4 PM in sunny, warm late-summer conditions with the great mountains surrounding our view. We had a most wonderful time.

Top of Pitch 4
Marc and the beautiful Black Face Pitch (5)
Top of Black Face and then off to final Lower Exum Pitch
Friction Pitch
Marc enjoying some brief sun on the Upper Exum
Another burst
Grand Teton
Awesome sky between storms
Complete Exum Ridge

August 3, 2017

Bugaboo Provincial Park, Canada

Last month, Jason Dorais and I spent several days climbing in the mystical Bugaboo Range in Canada. Really it's difficult to put into words the beauty and majesty of these most incredible granite spires.  The notoriously rapid changing and violent weather of the range held up to its reputation as we found ourselves dodging storms the entire time.  As weather windows would open for us, we would rush to our desired routes and get on them as quickly as possible.  

More than just the world-class climbing was the simple aspect of just being present among some of the greatest creations on earth (at least from what I have seen).  Hardened Bugaboo climbers are amazing alpinists. Being a newbie to the range, I was impressed by some of the folks camping at Applebee Dome and the routes they had climbed before the weather went south and what they were holding out to do.  This was Jason's third time to the range.  To see him absorb the energy of the environment was really neat to witness. We walked away with tremendous prizes but also a growing list of possibilities, which we look forward to returning to make a reality.  

When we got back into cell range, I got a text from my middle son, "Yo Dad how are the Bugaboos?" Hopefully he will get his own answer next year when he joins us.

Pigeon Spire

Snowpatch Spire
Wild and Icy morning- Bugaboo Spire
Background- South Howser 
Bugaboo Glacier
Bugaboo and Snowpatch Spires below
Sidewalk of Pigeon

Pitch 1 Bugaboo

Pitch 4 of McTech Arete- Crescent Spire- Courtesy Jason Dorais

Calm between storms
Eyeing a short-lived window
Jason on McTech Arete- Crescent Spire
2nd to last rappel of McTech

March 11, 2017

January and February's Deep Memories

A couple unreal months have settled into the past but the memories keep filling my mind as this winter in the Wasatch Range has been unbelievable. A few photos record some great moments with friends that have quickly like myself become powder snobs.

Lars topping out on Y

Jason Dorais Deep in Thought in Hogum

Jason and Andy, we skied line left of Hogum's Heroes

Lars early January

Me in Y Not, courtesy Bart G.

Bart Gillespie rapping Y Not

Jared Inouye Y Not

Jared Inouye, Top of Little Y

Jared and the rap in Y Not

Superior Morning- Courtesy Lars

Justin Wilson- late February

Me- Courtesy Justin Wilson - late February