| Got milk?
This isn't a 14er, but whatever it's still awesome.
Days like these, are the sole reason I peaced out of Pennsylvania for college.
I talked to Nick, (Bigmac) on wednesday about climbing Castle and Conundrum this upcoming wknd, and he was like yah sure whatever, you wanna do the Exxum this weekend? On Friday, I rally'ed my roommate Lucas to come. We left Laramie early Saturday morning and six hours later I got my first view of the Tetons. I brought a point and shoot camera so the pics aren't great, but try to enjoy...
We went to Jenny Lake Ranger station to try n get a backcountry permit. I assumed there was no way any would be left because of the holiday weekend, but there was. Apparently there's no fee either. Ranger Bob was extremely nice. This totally changed my view of the NPS, after a whole almost getting arrested fiasco in the Grand Canyon. We got our permits and got ready to start the approach.
You enter Garnet Canyon, and the Middle Teton dominates the view
The approach is fairly easy, except our packs weighed around 70lbs. Think Quandary up to treeline. Once you get to the canyon, you have to do some boulder hopping. We thought we were camping right around here, but still had to gain another ~1500'
Working our way up
We found a camp spot in the Moraine. Bigmac cooked up some chicken enchiladas while I went and filtered some water. It was the best dinner ever. Bigmac and I shared a tent while Lucas slept under a tarp. The moon came out and lit up the entire alpine valley. No pics.
We slept in and woke around 7. Our plan was the complete Exxum, but we really just wanted the summit. We chose Owen Spalding instead to increase our chances.
We and alot of other groups paused here because the weather was "questionable". I thought it was beautiful. "It's not cheerleading, it's mountaineering."
So up we went
Yes those are pajama pants.
Un-roped scrambling up to here
A little while later we met a solo climber. He asks us where we were going and was like yeah my partners wanted to turn around but I still want to go up. So we invited him to join our group. I'm thinking he looks familiar, he starts talking about 14ers and skiing them. It turns out he was skier25(Wes). I don't tell him my username. As we climb I tell him about stuff I've skiied and he just guessed Mrwaffles. haha. It was awesome meeting someone from this site. The conversations were all about mountaineering the rest of the way.
We got to the upper saddle and the winds hit us. We put our harnesses on here.
This is where everything got exciting.
You have to climb around this rock thing. If you slip, it's about a 1000' ride.
"The feeling" just rushed upon me and I climbed over. I ended up not using ropes for the entire ascent. Bigmac brought a rope over but ended up not setting an anchor so Skier25 and Lucas did it ropeless.
Skier25 doing work
This is the "Belly Crawl" or something. I kinda straddled my way across it. Bigmac came over set and anchor and went back and did something else.
Once past the Belly Crawl, you hit the 5.4 climbing, there was a large line of climbers waiting for the route to clear out.
I free'd the mind and went up solo around everyone. This was the most enjoyable/thrilling climbing I've ever done. The experience was "sublime".
I don't really have any pictures of the actual climbing.
The final push to the summit, I was estatic.
I had the summit to myself at around 1130ish.
I called the old man and took in the views for a while until another group from boulder summited.
I rushed back down to the last technical pitch to check on my group's progress. Here I ran into Alan. We were talking about mountains and he said something about skiing Quandary and how his binding broke. I remebered reading that TR and asked him what his 14ers.com name was. ClemsonMntnr or something. We chatted for a while, then my party came up.
Skier25 and Bigmac ready for the final push
We all pretty much arrived on the summit at the same time. Everyone was thrilled. Best group ever to share the summit with.
Chillin on the summit areola
We all took pics of each other.
Skier25, ClemsonMntnr, Mrwaffles989
Some dark clouds were off in the distance so we all took off. Bigmac took off earlier than everyone to set up the rappel ropes.
He set up the rap for everyone coming down.
We got to the second rap. Every minute or so, everyone would be yelling, ROCK!ROCK!. It was scary. When I was unclipping at the bottom, I got nailed in the head. Ouch. It was like a war zone.
We all got down safely and it felt good because it was cold and windy waiting for our turn to rappel. We motored down the mountain. At one point it started hailing or graupel or whatever. This is when some Exxum guide was passing and he said lightning was coming. We motored a little faster.
The lower saddle.
We got down to camp and I really just wanted to pass out. The collective decision was to go down to the car. As we were packing up, there was a loud crack of thunder that echoed off the rock walls. It was scary. There was only one boom and it passed over. We hiked out to the bottom, and the trail just did not want to end. It was somewhat brutal for me.
One last view
We got back to the car when it was dark. Even during the drive out of the park, you could see the Tetons towering in the distance. It's insane. There just like a wall of rock. We drove a few hours and passed out in some construction area thing outside of Pinedale.
It's been just about a year since I climbed a mountain just to climb it. I've been hauling my skis up too much. (Next time I'm up on the Grand, there will probally be skis on my pack though.) This has been my favorite trip so far. I hadn't planned on "free-soloing" the route, but this shit is like a drug. You build up a tolerance and just need more and more. Can't wait for Hood, Rainier, Orizaba, Denali, etc......
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):