On our last day in Jackson, I did the Owen Spaulding route on the Grand for time. Since we were at the Climber's ranch, I rolled out of bed at first light and set my watch where the trail starts up Burnt Wagon gulch, estimating that was about the same as the Lupine trailhead. Having suffered through cramps just a week prior, and not having any climbing head anymore, the goal was to go hard but also have fun and stay safe. There were intermittent concerning clouds in the morning, but fortunately nothing came out of the sky until the afternoon when I was happily back in the valley.
|Your run of the mill Grand summit photo.|
I pushed at something like 50k race pace up to the normal trail and up through the switchbacks, then moved easily through the Meadows. I did OK above the Meadows, but probably should have pushed a little harder to the lower saddle (2.10). Still feeling good, I pushed a bit harder on the long scramble to the Upper saddle, with just one stop to stash my handheld water bottle. As expected, a stiff breeze necessitated a coat stop at the upper saddle, then it was off on a new (to me) route. Fortunately, the route was obvious, although I must admit the climbing through the chimneys above the belly crawl was harder than I had expected. Roped parties in the Sargent's chimney were super friendly, and I was able to pass without stopping. I summited not too tired in 3.15. My lack of climbing head showed a lot on the downclimb. I took it easy and safe, but it took a lot of time. I also managed to slightly botch the route below the Upper saddle, but corrected easily and was soon at the Lower Saddle. I had a lot of fun running out. I could have pushed harder down to the Meadows, but it was nice to run in control. The run out to the valley was a blast, and I arrived back at 5.42.
What a delightful morning, and always a great day to summit the Grand. By my count, this was my tenth summit and eighth route on the Grand. Without taking any more climbing risk for speed, it would be feasible to gain about 10 minutes to the Upper saddle and 15 minutes on the descent, but for me ,a sub-5 hour outing would be difficult. For gear, I took a handheld water bottle (refills on the switchbacks and at lower saddle) and a pack with a wind shirt and pants and calories. That seemed to work well, with just enough of a food and clothing buffer to feel safe.