The Tetons

Summer is hot in Salt Lake City and fortunately I was able to escape the heat for a couple days with a quick trip to the Grand Tetons.  Doris and I left Salt Lake City on a Tuesday morning.  About five hours later, we arrived in the hopping town of Jackson.  There is more traffic in this little town than Salt Lake City!  We quickly found the brewpub and began scheming about our plans for the next day.

It rained hard that night and the forecast was predicting showers for our first climbing day.  So we picked an objective that was able to be rappelled.  We woke early and began hiking into Death Canyon.  The hike was uneventful except we diverged from the main trail too early and ended up scrambling through some loose terrain.  However, our path did bring us to the belay right below the first pitch.  I racked up and began leading up the first pitch of the Snaz.  The climbing was straightforward and a bit wondery and dirtier than I expected on such a well travelled route.  But I guess this is alpine climbing!  By the third pitch, the climbing had cleaned up and I led up a hard 5.9 off width capped by an exciting roof move!

Start of the 3rd pitch on the Snaz.  Photo: Doris Oberlander
The reminder of the pitches involved good rock climbing through a couple roofs, an awkward wide and flaring chimney and some easier ground.  After completing all eight pitches, we began the rappels to the  ground.  On the hike out, the skies opened up and it rained hard on our sweaty bodies.  The warm air and rain showers felt so refreshing!
Doris finishing up pitch 3 or 4 on The Snaz
Views of the hike out of Death Canyon
Feeling a bit tired and knowing that we had to drive back to Salt Lake City the next day, we picked an objective that hopefully wouldn’t take a full day.  Again we woke early and started to long approach to Disappointment Peak in hopes of climbing the Open Book.  Our legs were tired from the almost 2 hour approach yesterday but we both didn’t talk about that.  Instead we enjoyed the pleasant temperatures and clear blue skies that seemed to go on forever.  This time we easily found the approach trail and began hiking up through the talus to the base of the climb.  There was 100 – 200 feet of 4th class scrambling with a move or two of 5th class at the top of the scramble. The consequences were high so I opted to pull the rope out and keep it safe.  
The climb began with some classic 5.9 crack climbing and then continued through some wandering features for almost a full rope length.  Pitch two was fun 5.8/5.9 liebacking and stemming.  I combined pitch 3 and 4 into one longer pitch as pitch 3 was very short and the belay would have been completely hanging.  This turned pitch 3 into one very fun 5.9 crack climb!  I belayed at a large sloping ledge.  Pitch 4 began with a huge undercling and then through some crack systems trending right.  I thought this was going to take us to a place where we could unrope but there was one more easy 5th class pitch that brought us to the top of the route.  We were both super impressed with the quality of the climbing on this one.  I would say its been my favorite rock route in the Tetons out of the 3 I have done (Irene’s Arrete and the Snaz).  As a bonus, the descent was straightforward.  A simple scramble down the backside of the lower flanks of Disappointment Peak led us to a nice trail that skirted through beautiful alpine lakes and streams.  Lower down on the trail we saw a bear munching on the berries!  

Doris on Pitch 3.

Navigating the big undercling on pitch 4. Photo: Doris Oberlander.

Finally our tired bodies arrived at the car.  We stretched out our legs and began the long drive back to Salt Lake City.  While there is tons of climbing in Salt Lake, I have missed the mountains and the long days and adventures that come with alpine climbing.  It was nice to satisfy that need to travel through mountainous terrain, get high off the ground and have an adventure.  I’ll be back for more.

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