Stettner-Ford on the Grand Teton

Tustin, Jodd, Phil and I set out to conquer the Grand Teton in Wyoming. Prepared for any number of routes up the Grand, we had a lot of gear packed into the Suby. We arrived, spoke with a ranger, who confirmed our Stettner-to-Ford couloir route was a good one at this point in the season, and pitched camp at Jenny Lake for the evening. The four of us crammed cosily into Justin and Todd’s 3-man tent for the night. The next morning we woke casually, ate some polenta, packed our packs, drove to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, and started hiking.

The switchbacks were pretty brutal… until we reached the meadows, where the real fun started. Ascending about one mile of 25-40 degree snow slopes, we finally approached the lower saddle. Justin, Phil and I chopped and shovelled our home out behind a big boulder while Todd cooked instant mashed potatoes for dinner. After dinner, we sorted gear and prepared our packs for the next day’s early summit attempt.

The switchbacks were pretty brutal… until we reached the meadows, where the real fun started. Ascending about one mile of 25-40 degree snow slopes, we finally approached the lower saddle. Justin, Phil and I chopped and shovelled our home out behind a big boulder while Todd cooked instant mashed potatoes for dinner. After dinner, we sorted gear and prepared our packs for the next day’s early summit attempt.

As on our last attempt on Longs Peak, wind kept us up all night until our alarm rang at 3 am. We got up and moving quickly and Justin led us across a steep traversing snow slope. Despite my not being happy about the steep traverse, I kept moving.

We scrambled up some scree and roped up at the base of the Stettner couloir. Because I am the slowest in our group at hiking up steep snow with a pack on, we decide that I would lead so that I could set the pace.

About 200 feet of great snow brought me to the first ice bulge, where I placed a screw and happily climbed over using just a walking axe. The next bulge was a little more difficult and Phil gave me a technical tool for it. WI2 at the hardest. At the base of the Chevy couloir, the snow/ice gully that connects the Stettner to the Ford, the wind became noticeable, whipping up spin-drift and blowing icy crystals into our faces. I set up a belay at one of the fixed anchors and brought everyone up. Phil led up the rest of the Chevy, finding more spin-drift and thick (water-ice) in slightly longer, thicker sections than that which was in the Stettner. Phil stopped just above a 15 foot rock slab and we climbed up to meet him.

Phil looked at his watch and by its estimation, we only had about 300 vertical feet before the summit; however, the picture of the route had us about 800 vert feet from the summit. It didn’t really matter how far we actually were but I expected 800 feet figuring better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed. Justin picked up the lead, plowing up the 50 degree snow slopes like the steam train that he is. I took advantage of every pause, laying my head against the snow for a microsleep.

The Ford got steep and exposed, dropping off on both sides. We summitted about 1pm.

Descended the Owen-Spalding. Turtle finally got to use the facilities (wag bag). It took me a long time to descend. When we were all finally back at camp, we snacked instead of cooking dinner. Went to sleep despite the howling wind.

Woke up to the howling wind and a voice wondering, “Yoo-hoo, is anyone home?” It was about 8am, the wind was crazy, it was snowing intermittently, and this party of 5 was contemplating heading up the Grand. We gave them some betta on the Stettner-Ford and the Middle Teton, zipped back into our tent, and braced the poles with each huge gust… and snacked more. Much Ovaltine was consumed.

Around 11:30am, we were packed up and headed down from lower saddle. We glissaded much of the snow slopes that we brutally ascended two days ago. The weather was pretty nasty – snowy rain, wind. We hiked out quickly and piled into the Suby.

We found a weather report and it sounded like Jenny Lake and the Tetons were going to continue to get dumped on for the next few days. We decided to detour down to the Flaming Gorge to camp for the night, driving for miles through the MOFN (middle of freakin’ nowhere). Around midnight we were still driving, nearing the Flaming Gorge, and getting pretty desperate for a campsite. We pulled a U-ey, swinging back around and turning down a dirt road that apparently led to “Lost Dog”. About 1.5 miles back, we found another dirt road branching off and took it. Another half mile back and we pulled over and popped up the tent. Phil and I slept in the car and Turtle and Justin in the tent. A car actually drove by shortly after we got set up. What could other people possibly be doing back here?

In the morning, Phil made pancakes and we dried our gear and clothes a bit. Justin was a bit disoriented from his mildly traumatic, completely unplanned stay at Lost Dog. Driving out we found the namesakes – two black muts about the size of a black lab but with longer, matted fur and redish tinted eyes. Around the mongrols’ necks were heavy chain-links, the type you would find on a gate to a junk yard. Scattered in the near area were a pair of tattered jeans, a dirty t-shirt, and two pairs of work gloves. There were no cars within 2 miles of the dogs. No owners. Just two canines. Two lost dogs.

We escaped Lost Dog with a few photos for proof and did a drive-through tour of Flaming Gorge. We feasted at the Mongolian BBQ and drove back to Estes.

fleshshredding
IMG_3906
IMG_3907
IMG_3909
IMG_3910
IMG_3926
IMG_3927
IMG_3928
IMG_3929
IMG_3930
IMG_3931
IMG_3932
IMG_3934
IMG_3935
IMG_3936
IMG_3939
IMG_3942
IMG_3946
IMG_3947
IMG_3948
IMG_3950
IMG_3954
IMG_3955
IMG_3957
IMG_3959
IMG_3964
IMG_3968
IMG_3969

0 comments

There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Sea kayaking paddling the inside passage expedition kayaking expedition inside passage inside passage 2009 sea kayaks how to choose an expedition kayak touring kayak touring kayaking Image 01 Image 02