Monday, September 7, 2015

Owen to Teewinot traverse

The final few steps to the summit of Owen. Teewinot on the background.
The day after climbing the Grand, Kyle and I headed out again, this time with a leisurely 10:30 start.  We pointed ourselves toward Owen with loose plans to do the traverse to Teewinot if we felt good. The entire approach was relaxed and chatty. It was good to get back to the Teton glacier - what a  spectacular spot. After surmounting the terminal moraine, we climbed the edge of the glacier before deviating up into the Koven couloir.  We soloed the Koven couloir, and aside from some sketchy snow and full value 4th class rock steps, it was casual. To our surprise, the fatigue from the previous day slowly melted away. We would both end up feeling more and more energetic throughout the day.
On the edge of the Teton Glaier.
Feeling small because Owen is a big mountain.  Feeling late because it was already noon.
We took our time kicking up steep snow in the upper Koven.
We continued up to the Koven snowfield, then climbed onto the upper East ridge via easy 5th class steps on the south side of the ridge. All of the rock climbing on the upper mountain was quite enjoyable. We roped up for the headwall pitch, and Kyle of course fired it off with ease.  We summited at a fasionably late hour of 4 pm. The descent back to East Prong was quick, and after some debate, we made the only-slightly-rash decision to continue to Teewinot.
Kyle making quick work of the 5.6 summit slab pitch on the East ridge of Owen.
Running down the lower Koven route with a light climbing pack.
Kyle lead us flawlessly up intimidating broken ledges to East Prong, and we worked in tandem routefinding to 10,880. I lead us around terribly loose but quick ledges on the north side, and soon we were on the high tundra below Teewinot.  We stopped for a few minutes, drank the last of our water, took note of the beautiful evening light, and pushed on to the summit. We began our descent just before sunset.  Kyle lead us easily down tricky terrain on the upper East Face, and before long we were jogging down the climbers trail.  We didn't quite escape the darkness, but soon enough we were out at the car.  At a solidly moderate pace with a single rope and light rack, we summited in 5.5 hours, did the traverse in around 3.5 hours, and descended in a little over 1.5 hours for a 10.5 hour day.
Kyle preparing to engage steep loose terrain on East Prong.
Kyle killing his water supply. 
Teewinot summit. Yeah Kyle.

Running the trail below the Worshiper and Idol.
We kept our helmets on to this point since the descent of the East face of Teewinot is exposed.
What a day.  I just love the challenge of moving efficiently through technical terrain, and it was a treat to share it with Kyle.
Teewinot summit at sunset. Ride 'em Cowboy.
Postscript -  Upon our return to the Cimber's Ranch, we learned that two climbers had fallen to their deaths on the East face of Teewinot (our descent route) the previous day. News release here. My condolences to family and friends of Tyler and Catherine. While I am confident we took enough time and care to descend safely, it is a poignant reminder to respect the mountain and remain vigilant in technically easy, exposed terrain.  

1 comment:

  1. Hello Brian! My Name is Rebecca and I am a student at paths University of Montana. I'm writing an article about hidden gems in the Mission Mountains. Really beautiful places to backpack, ski, hunt, ect. That most people don't know about. I would also love to hear more about your experiences in the Missions. You live a very cool lifestyle that a lot of students at the U want to live as well! Thanks!