Tuesday, 18 August 1998.
Climber's Ranch, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Back at the Climber's Ranch, Dave and Hilary arrived tired from their successful summit of the Grand (via the Upper Exum). We got stormed on during dinner, but the covered cooking area at the Climber's Ranch kept us dry.
Simon was feeling better, but fustrated at not having climbed anything yet. We got up early to stand in line for backcountry permits to attempt the Grand. Then we took the boat across Jenny Lake with the guides and their clients. The hike in to Guide's Wall is pretty easy compared to the stuff we had been doing -- only 1.8 miles of not too steep trail and a short talus section. We started climbing rather late at 10:30, but climbed quickly. We climbed the alternate (harder) versions of pitches to keep things interesting. I lead the first pitch, which was much easier than the rated 5.10a. We swung leads, and climbed quickly. The third pitch had a nice 5.8 finger crack followed by a roof. The roof was supposed to be 5.7, but I think you were supposed to climb around it, not through it like we did. At the fifth pitch there are three possibilites. The 5.9+ hand crack looked incredible, so I launched up it. At the started, Simon said it didn't look any easier than Reppy's Crack (5.8) on Cannon. Reppy's was my first real crack lead, last summer and I thought it was pretty hard and painful then. This crack was much better than Reppy's -- and harder too. Awesome crack climbing leads to a roof. You can either escape left, or launch straight out (5.10b/c). I decided to go for it. A great undercling hold at the base of the roof allowed me to streach my right hand out to the lip. Trying too release my bottom hand was too hard, being so streached out. Using an intermediate hold, I worked both hands out to the lip. At this point my left toe was in the undercling and I my shoulders were at the lip of the roof (a real Gunks roof). Reseting my hands I found the jugs over the lip. Letting my feet cut loose, I pulled up and over the lip. Wow! That was an awesome move! This was probably the best pitch of climbing I've done since leaving New England. Simon did an impressive job following the pitch wearing the pack (much lighter on this climb!). Simon was two thirds of the way up the last pitch, when I looked over my shoulder and saw nasty storm clounds headed this way. I warned Simon, who picked it up a bit and reached the belay just as it started to sprinkle. When Simon put me on belay he said I sould hurry since it was raining. I didn't need a second reminder and I flew up the pitch in the rain. Reaching the belay we threw on our rain gear, only to have the rain stop and the sun come out. Rappelling down, the second wave of rain hit us. In the midst of a real thunderstorm, we continued rappelling as the rain changed to hail. Upon reaching the ground, the rain stopped and the sun returned. For dinner we had a group meal of chicken fahitas. Andy, one of the SAR team members had invited us over to his cabin for a small party. Ian, Hilary and I went over, Mike joined us later. We had a great time telling jokes and war stories around a campfire.
Monday moring we awoke to driving rain during a thunderstorm. So much for our plans of heading up to the Grand. Our group was starting to trickle out. Dave Oka had flown out on Sunday afternoon. Simon changed his flights to leave today, so I drove him into town to catch the bus to Idaho Falls. After dropping off Simon, I went and visited Mark at the hospital. Mark was supposed to checkout today. Our group straggled in and helped Mark get ready to leave. Andy stopped by and wished Mark well. Ian dropped Hilary off at the airport and Mike and I got Mark checkout out.
I had last been in Jackson Hole, four years ago, and since then the National Museum of Wildlife Art opened. Ian and I spent the afternoon there, we ended up getting our passes comped, since Ian had meet Charlotte, who works at the museum a few days earlier.
We had a great meal of corn on the cob, salad, potatoes and barbeque chicken. Staying at the climbers ranch was a little tougher for Mark, but much more enjoyable. Mike and Mark left early for Boston. This morning the rain was comming down even heavier than the day before. Late the night before Bill Boyle and Steve Angelini arrived at the climbers ranch.
And here I sit waiting out the rain, trying to decide what to do.