Grand Teton: Upper Exum Ridge
Approach: 6-7 Hours
Rating: 5.5 III 1000'
I had just came back from a course in the Palisades Mountains and jokingly mentioned climbing the Grand over the weekend. Chris missed the sarcasm, and a few days later said, very seriously, "We should really go rent some crampons and axes for the climb. Its probably still icy up there." I was momentarily confused, but just went with it.
It was hot and Friday. Friends were planning a themed party that neither of us were particularly bought into. We waded through the sea of tourists toward Teton Mountaineering and rented some icy gear: crampons and axes. Chris was in a spending mood and bought an axes instead of renting one. He also bought a few more cams, which we needed since my entire climbing rack had been stolen in San Francisco a few months prior. He and Laine, a couple, had committed to splitting a bunch of climbing gear under the agreement that when and if the break up they'd just split the gear down the middle. Climbing gear can be a stressor in romantic relationships. Its ruined more than a few.
We bought some beer and went to the party. It was hot, and Friday.
We played some ball sports and drank PBR and other alcohols. A bunch of old friends of the Teton Science Schools were there. We caught up with them and then left at about 8:30pm. From 9:00 until 10:00 we packed. From 10:00 until 11:00 we sat on the couch in Chris' apartment and then both agreed that we were extremely bored and weren't going to sleep so we then just grabbed our bags and got in Chris' car aimed for Lupine Meadows Trailhead. We parked and talked to a nice guy from Colorado in the parking lot. He asked what we were climbing. We said Upper Exum. He said some things that we didn't listen to. Neither of us remember his name or face or why he was there at Lupine Meadows at midnight on a Friday. At midnight exactly we started on the trail.
We talked about some things: Our friends Liza and Taylor hooking up, NOLS, the Fall, Chris' decision to leave the Teton Science Schools after being their venerable golden child for a few years. The golden child that got away. Their loss.
Tofu listened to our conversation with his typical quiet wise.
Lupine Meadows trail, the split toward Garnet Canyon, past the Meadows, up to the Lower Saddle between the Grand and Middle Tetons. We drank water at the saddle. I ate Sour Patch Kids.
We headed up and through the Eye of the Needle, which was a winter caving adventure, toward Wall Street. It was icy. We hiked too high and had to down climb some sketch rock and across two snowfields before finding ourselves at that famous start: Wall Street. It was beautiful. The sun was just cresting the Gros Ventre on the other side of The Valley. It was special, every part of it. Here's a video of the rest of it. Kanye's unreleased "I Feel Like That" accompanies it. The juxtaposition of music and awkwardly lengthed shots are great. Its awkward but beautiful.