Wyoming Climbing

May 2003: So it’s not quite “Seven Years in Tibet”, but for now a long trip out west is just what I need to push the limits a bit farther.  Sean Yaw and I will be leaving in late June and returning in August.  Goals for the trip are seriously ambitious, and we will probably get ourselves in way over our heads.  We’ll be living by the mantra: great things have been done by people without enough experience to know that they were impossible.

Tentative schedule, hopes, and dreams:

  • End of June: Depart for the Wind River Range
  • Climb moderate alpine routes in the Winds for a week or two
  • Head to the Tetons, climbing until we are satisfied
    • Complete Exum Ridge
    • North Ridge of the Grand
    • Grand Traverse
    • Anything else that looks appealing
  • Take whatever time is left and head to Long’s Peak
    • Lamb’s Slide
    • Stettner’s Ledges
    • The Casual Route

If we don’t kill ourselves, it could end up being an amazing summer.  Even if we barely scrape our way up Teewinot, I’ll be pretty satisfied and have a huge amount of new experience to put towards projects and goals for the future.

Sean’s Trip Report

Written in late August 2003

This past summer I went to Wyoming with Phil Magistro for a mountaineering vacation for five and a half weeks. We had a great time and learned a TON of stuff about mountaineering, rock climbing, cooking, living and ourselves. It started out with a marathon one and a half day drive out to Pinedale, Wyoming (base of the Wind Rivers). Phil drove the entire way because I still do not have a driver’s license. The plan was to go into Titcomb Basin and climb Gannet Peak (the highest point in Wyoming) and then do some cool 5.6 rock routes around there. The hike in really hurt and I got us lost once but eventually we got into the basin. The next day we decided to go over the pass and camp on the glacier at the base of Gannet Peak because we were planning on doing two different routes on it. We reached the summit by way of the Gooseneck route on the 4th of July. The next day we did the considerably harder north face and got our first taste of loose, trashy alpine rock.

After that stuff we went back over the pass and had a great nights sleep. The next day we climbed the 3rd class southwest slope of Freemont. That was a very relaxing climb. After that we decided to go back to the car because we were too intimidated to try any of the big rock routes. The big lesson from this trip was to never, ever forget your sunscreen. We were burnt alive. Once we got back to the car, we decided to flee to the Tetons and learn to climb alpine rock.

We started out by just doing the Upper Exum Ridge on the Grand. That was a fun climb that gave us the confidence to do some cool stuff. The next several days we did some hard rock climbs that did not summit any major peaks so that we could get comfortable in the mountains. Once we thought that we were ready for big stuff, we went and climbed the North Ridge Italian Cracks variation on the Grand. This was a two day climb that taught us how to climb wet, loose rock for many, many hours and how to suffer. On the way down from the Grand we ran into Rollo Garboti, the guy who did the Grand Traverse in 6 and a half hours or some other ridiculously short time; he is a really nice guy. Once we got that done we were pretty content with what we had done in the Tetons and felt confident enough to give the Winds another try.

This time we decided to go to Deep Lake and the Cirque of the Towers. The hike in was a breeze compared to the Gannet death march. In Deep Lake we climbed the North Tower, Minor Dihedral on Haystack Mountain. I do not remember exactly how many pitches it was but it was more than 10 and less than 15. It was the most amazing rock that we had been on at that point. It was very slabby for almost the entire time so it turned us into slab climbing machines. The next day we hiked over to the Cirque of the Towers and saw Peter Croft but we did not talk to him like we talked to Rollo. The next day we climbed the classic Northeast Face of Pingora. This route was even better than the one on Haystack. This was by far the best quality rock of the trip. It is a classic for good reason. We left the next day due to lightning and went to the Tetons.

From the safety of Jenny Lake, we saw a rescue in progress on the Upper Exum Ridge of the Grand, where a lady died from lightning and many others were seriously injured. That night we talked to some college kids who were right in front of them. These kids said that while they were climbing they saw the clouds move in and then heard their ice axes buzz…and they kept climbing up. Anyways, the next day we ran up the 4th class east face of Teewinot. The next day was the start of what became the biggest, most fulfilling climb of the trip. We were going to try the Serendipity Arête on Mount Owen. The first day we hiked up and went to bed early after some alpine bouldering. The next day we climbed for 17 hours hiked out for 3 and went to bed 23 hours after we woke up. I don’t know how Twight does that for 60 hours. A couple days later we did the lower Exum ridge car to car in 14 hours.

After that we drove through Yellowstone and went to Devils Tower. We climbed a route there called Soler (same guy from Seneca). It was a great, two pitch corner with a crack. It was very sustained, extremely hot and the friction was terrible. After that we spent a day in the Needles of South Dakota and came home.

It was a great trip and we learned so much about the mountains and learned how much we do not know. We got in ridiculously good shape and beat our gear to shreds. We met some really cool people who did everything from give us some real good laughs to informing us that diesel engines can run on vegetable oil to discussing philosophy. We did this entire trip for dirt cheap and still had plenty of food to eat and a comfortable place to sleep. To all you ECP people: Thanks for teaching me so much and I owe you. The Mountaineering school has really opened doors for me and made things that never seemed possible, possible. At the bottom is an official list of everything that we climbed.

-Sean Yaw

320 Sean Belaying in the Needles
260 Phil on Owen Summit
270 Phil after climbing Lower Exum
050 Gannet Summit
190 Resting on Pingora
240 Sean Alpine Bouldering in Valhalla
300 Sean on Devils Tower Summit
160 Sean after climbing North Ridge
100 Grand Teton Summit
250 Phil at Belay on Owen
090 High on the Upper Exum
130 Grand Teton North Ridge
210 Sean on Pingora Summit
280 Sean climbing Soler on Devils Tower
220 Phil and Sean on Teewinot Summit
060 Grand Teton Exum Ridge
110 Grand Teton Summit
230 The Grand and Owen from Teewinot
290 Phil on Devils Tower Summit
170 Looking down to the Saddle
180 Looking up at the Grand
040 Gannet North Face
020 Climbing Gannett via the Gooseneck
010 Gannet Peak
150 Stormy Grand Teton Summit
330 The Badlands of South Dakota
140 Teewinot from the Grand
070 Higher on the Exum
200 Phil on Pingora Summit
310 Phil Belaying in the Needles
030 Gannet Summit Ridge
080 Base of the Upper Exum

The Official List of Everything that We Climbed

  • Gannet Peak (13,804)
    • Gooseneck (I, Snow 4)
    • North Face (III, Snow/Ice 5)
  • Freemont (13,745)
    • Southwest Slope (I, 3)
  • Grand Teton (13,770)
    • Upper Exum Ridge (II, 5.5)
    • Lower Exum Ridge (III, 5.7)
    • North Ridge Italian Cracks var. (IV, 5.7)
  • Cube Point (9,600) East Ridge (II, 5.4)
  • Guides Wall var. (II, 5.9)
  • Disappointment Peak (11,618) Irene’s Arête var. (III, 5.9)
  • Baxter’s Pinnacle (8000)
    • South Ridge (II, 5.6)
    • Upper South Face (II, 5.9)
  • Haystack Mountain (11,978) – North Tower, Minor Dihedral (III, 5.9)
  • Pingora (11,884) – Northeast Face var. (IV, 5.9)
  • Teewinot (12,325) East Face (II, 4)
  • Mount Owen (12,928) – Serendipity Arête (IV, 5.7)
  • Devils Tower – Soler (5.9-)
  • Needles climbs
    • Tent Peg (5.7)
    • Tricouni Nail (5.9)
    • Queen Pin (5.10-) sport


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