Monday, August 12, 2013

Tetons - Jim's Big Day climb, Middle Teton run

I travelled to the Tetons in late August for a semi-spontaneous climbing and peak scrambling trip with Leah and Ben.  Our main objective was Jim's Big Day (III, 10a) on the Enclosure, and anything else was just a bonus.  The trip started off with an enjoyable romp up Irene's Arete.  It was my first time on the route, and the climb was excellent.

Leah and Ben on Irene's arete.
Enclosure - Jim's Big Day
From a camp in the Meadows, we were able to sleep until a civilized hour and brew up a good breakfast before heading out at dawn.  We started climbing around 9 am, just as the first parties started parading down between the Upper and Lower saddles from the Grand.  I had some trouble locating the second and third pitches, and we spent the first half of the route climbing mediocre rock interspersed with good sections, wondering if we were lost.  Fortunately, Leah took the lead and got us back on route at the base of the spectacular crux pitch.  I took my time jamming and underclinging for 100 feet of enjoyable Teton climbing before belaying on a beautiful exposed ledge.  From there, we climbed one long easy pitch and simul climbed to the summit of the Enclosure.  The descent went smoothly, but we still didn't arrive back at the trailhead until well after dark.

Getting psyched for the spectacular crux pitch of Jim's Big day.
Middle Teton - North Ridge run
We slept in on our last day and cooked up a huge pasta breakfast at the climber's ranch before heading our respective ways.  Having bailed on Middle Teton's North ridge with skis just three month's prior, I was excited to make a return trip.  The old legs didn't have much pep, so I jogged and walked to the meadows (1 hr 2 min) and lower saddle (1 hr 58 min) before scrambling to the base of the Pinnochio pillar and the start of the route.  The traverse around Pinnochio and around to the Northwest couloir was fairly complex but safe and easy, and I was soon scrambling 4th class rock to the dike gash.  After some scree slogging in the gash, I climbed out on a 5.4ish step well below the top of the gully.  I tried to climb directly up to the North ridge, but got cliffed out and had to downclimb quite a ways before gaining the northwest shoulder of the peak and scrambling easily to the summit (2.55).  With thunderstorms brewing and friends waiting down in the valley, I scrambled quickly down the Southwest gully before enduring endless boulder hopping down the South fork.  From the meadows (4.10) I ran hard down the trail through the switchbacks before taking the faint trail directly back to the climber's ranch (5.05).  The climbing portion of the day should go faster with fresher legs.  I fully enjoyed the opportunity to unlock the trickeries of the North ridge route.  The routefinding is fairly complex, but with patience, the way is fairly obvious, and the climbing is more moderate than the consensus 5.6 rating (in my opinion).  Hopefully the knowledge will come in handy during a ski traverse some day.
The North ridge of Middle Teton last April from the Lower saddle.
It was nice to returrn and finally climb the thing.

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