Three years ago I hiked the to the Summit of the Grand Teton (13,770 feet) with my Uncle and Brother. We noticed a lot of untouched boulders along the trails and wondered if it would ever be possible to develop them. After one year of dreaming and planning, a great friend of mine Vince and I set out on a 4 days/3 night recon mission into the Garnet Canyon. We had very little expectations on what might happen and what we would actually be doing if there were no good boulders worth the hike...
What we found was "world class" Granite in a beautiful hidden valley, 9'000ft elevation and truly a playground of boulders. We hiked, cleaned, climbed and documented 7 problems from the short trip. I couldn't stop thinking about the area and potential for months and months when we returned to Boston. I reached out to the Teton Park Rangers and got the guidelines on boulder development and access. They mentioned to me that no one is developing up in the mountains or even along the base. Old John Gill blocs are found scattered around a few lakes up and some spot climbing. They gave me the green light to start the development; meaning, just go climb so rock. Before I knew it, my return trip back to the Tetons was booked and this time for 3 weeks.
The Return trip...
BOOM! It happened, I arrived in Jackson Hole and started to hike back into the mountains within hours of landing. I waited a year and I wasn't about to wait any longer. As I flew into Jackson I happened to sit on the right side of the plane, the window seat.. Without really thinking about it, it turned out to be the best landing I had ever witnessed. You fly along the Grand Teton range just about the same hight as the peaks (Screen shot from my seat below).
Within a few days from landing I loaded up for 4 days in the back country. My plan was to explore 3 alpine lakes; Amphitheater, Surprise and Delta Lakes. All are fairly close to one another other than Delta which is a intense hike of 1000' elevation gain/descent in less than a quarter mile. Steep!
I went with a few friends that happen to be living/visiting in Drigs, Idaho. Emmett and Charlie; these guys were psyched to join in on the adventure, hike up, live in the back country and put up some of their own lines that inspired them. Two days of hiking around the lakes and we found a good amount of blocs. One boulder stood out to me as one of the best boulders I've found in the Tetons, so far. (Pictured below)
After two days around the lakes we established 4 new lines. (Check the interactive map at the bottom of the page for the details)
After 2 nights around the lakes we packed up camp and hiked to Garnet Canyon (where Vince and I spent our 4 days exploring) and set up camp at the Platforms. I retraced my steps with some hand written maps and logged our climbs throughout the weeks. The handwriting is atrocious and misspelled words but at the moment I didn't care at all, chicken scratch and bad grammar is what I was going for. Here are a few photos from my.....mountain man journal.
During my 3 weeks stay many friends joined in on the adventure. It was amazing that my friends and family wanted to be part this experience and enjoy the outdoors with me. So many different perspectives and visions went into the bouldering and this makes for well rounded future area.
By the end of the trip, I was very surprised and happy with what we had accomplished. Here's a quick tick list of details:
- I hiked just over 60 Miles, mostly up and down elevation and always looking for blocs
- We established around 33 boulder problems ranging from V1-V12
- The distance to the blocs with a crash pad and day pack range from 45min (The Cube), 1.5hr (The Medows/Garnet) and 2hr (Amphitheater Lake).
- We saw (up close) Black Bears eating huckleberries, Elk chillin' out in the fields, Bald Eagles fighting each other in the sky and even Marmots sitting on top of the boulders looking at you when you top out.
- Discovered two new sectors to develop with potential for 50+ boulder problems.
- Created a fun 8 bloc circuit in Garnet Canyon that starts at V4 and ends on V11. (The Downtown Circuit)
I found this cool web site called "Scribble Maps" that allowed me to mark each bloc and share a short description of them. Some have photos attached to give you an idea of what the lines look like. Zoom out so you can see all of the sectors! Enjoy cruising through the map of all the blocs we have established!
"SO, WHAT'S YOUR PLAN WITH UNCOVERING THE TETONS?"
I've been asked this question by many, why the Tetons? Why all the hiking, cleaning, climbing and documenting? Why don't you find boulders closer to the road?! Why don't you climb in more established areas?
All great points and questions, here's my reasons and thoughts.
I love climbing, but to me climbing doesn't have to only be rolling up to an established area with a guide book, tackle the project, do the classic circuit and then bounce. I believe that finding your "own path" is a way of life and a way to explore climbing. We all choose our own life, we take guidance from parents and friends but we ultimately choose who we become.
Choosing to do what I love and the experience during it, is how I want to live my life, in the Present.
I enjoy finding new areas and lines and creating my own path to share with the world and to leave a part of me here on planet earth. My dream before I vanish off this giant rock we live on is to write a book, but not a novel, a climbing guide book, to share.
Here is the video from LAST YEARS trip into the Tetons: https://vimeo.com/128999297