Submitted by Angela Hawse on Fri, 2009-08-14 10:35.
The lantern going on is harsh for our 3:00 a.m. wake up call at 11,600 feet on the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton. Bodies bumble about the Exum hut trying to choke down some food, get harnesses on and out the door by 4:00. We’ll scramble for an hour and a half on 3rd and 4th class terrain before the sun hits the Middle Teton and the rest of the world begins to wake up in the valley below.
It’s July 4th and Chicks with Picks alum, Caroline Doucett is about to get a dose of the Grand Teton in full alpine conditions; rare for this time of year and feared by most. I’m psyched and Caroline is seasoned and prepared for the mixed climbing we’ll encounter on the Owen Spalding route. With Chicks with Picks under her belt and ample time at altitude on snow in other ranges I know she’ll send it. The rock game is fairly new to her but she clearly demonstrated her prowess down in the valley the day before. She’s about to put all her skills together and take it to the top of this one.
As we near the Upper Saddle the first light hits the Middle Teton and illuminates our little world. We’ve been moving for almost two hours, over rock and snow, kicking steps and plunging our axes up steep snowfields. The business begins on the first two pitches, as we traverse out over the vast West Face with nothing but cold air and exposure under our dairyaires as we tip toe across the Belly Roll and Crawl Pitches, avoiding verglass and snow. It’s bitter cold and the air is thin. We gain the Double Chimney Pitch and scratch our way up the crux Owen Chimney, which in dry conditions goes at 5.5. In mountain boots with crampons and an ice axe it feels at least 2 grades harder and full on. Caroline confidently climbs it in fine style, impressing the guide below. Some more steep snow, easy 5th class chimneys and scrambling, we reach the 13,770 ft. summit on a gorgeous day. A proud ascent for Caroline and my first of the season on my favorite mountain in the world. Thanks Caroline… you Rock!
AMGA Certified Alpine and Rock Guide