Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yoga Grandstand

I had the absolute pleasure of climbing the Grand with two of the FOXIEST women I know: Neesha Zollinger and Ciela Wynter. Ciela grew up here and strangely had not climbed it yet; very odd to me considering that every able bodied male climber in the Hole should have been falling over themselves for that opportunity. Same for Neesha: been here ten years and not one dirtbag climber offered to take her up.

Well, not being stupid, I jumped at the chance. I was impressed that they both spent some time training this summer; it's always a bummer to see good athletes underestimate the gnarl of the Grand and junkshow it on the way up or down (or both). These beautiful ladies just sailed through it like it was no big thing.

I enjoyed putting up the rope and hopefully I was a good host. I hope we can all bag another peak sometime soon. Thanks, Neesha and Ciela!

Neesha's peaking so much she'd have flown away had I not held her down

Neesha and Ciela taking a detour to bag Carmen's Pinnacle

Taking a rest on Carmen's. Sweet little micro summit

Neesha psyched, Middle Teton far below

and Ciela posed for the same effect

I want to say this is Natarajasana but I'm not sure. Your atypical summit shot but I like it.

Brief make-out session on top (okay, she is my girlfriend...).

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Grand Traverse

I've been in awe of the Grand Traverse for years. First, Alex shocked everyone with his monstrous time of 8:20 back in the mid-nineties. Back then the Traverse was not done very often - more of a concept than a regularly attempted objective. So to have Alex not only do it but in extreme style was a very humbling and exciting event. On his way down the trail after the difficulties he slipped and tore a huge hunk of skin out of his butt. Having climbed with him before and seen his antics, I knew it meant only one thing: this boy had to be running. And that made me shake my head in disbelief: how could you climb ten peaks in less than 8 hours and then have the energy to be sprinting down the trail? Who is this man? And then Rolo smashed his record by doing it in 6:40. I heard that the after effects of Rolo's effort were that he was pretty messed up body-wise afterwards, taking a long time to recover. I knew I would like to do it but couldn't fathom how anyone could put up times like that or punish their body.

For example, to do the traverse in under 7 hours means you probably have to climb Teewinot in less than an hour. All the other key linkages, peak-to-peak, feature-to-feature, must be done in a pretty specific time frame, and fast. Plus, you have to know the terrain. The GT has a few tricky sections that you want to nail correctly the first time or you could waste time recorrecting your steps.

To add insult to injury, a few years ago my Dad did the Grand Traverse, at 65 years old. So, I now had the added but friendly pressure of my Dad (officially the oldest person to ever complete the Traverse) telling me how great it was, how I should finally do it, etc. Argh!

With this history in mind I had a friend whose goal it was to do the Traverse in a respectable time and he was kind enough to ask me to come along. Since there is plenty of info on the Traverse itself, I thought it would be more interesting to post our actual point to point times along with a few photos. We didn't do it for speed, and took our time on each summit, but the lesson I learned here was how quickly one can move through complicated alpine terrain (great partner included).

The Grand Traverse:

3:18 am-----leave Lupine Meadows trailhead
5:00 am-----reach top of the Apex trail

5:34 am-----gearing up for the day at the start of Teewinot's technical difficulties

5:50 am-----start up Teewinot

7:19 am-----summit Teewinot

7:39 am-----begin traverse to Owen
9:33 am-----summit of East Prong

11:36am, traversing the second snowfield on Mt Owen

12:06 pm---summit of Mt. Owen

12:29 pm---headed for Gunsight Notch

1:30 pm-----climbing out of Gunsight Notch

2:40 pm-----base of the North Ridge, Grand Teton

5:30 pm-----summit of the Grand Teton. Yeah!

6:24 pm-----top of the Upper Saddle

7:08 pm-----Lower Saddle Hut. This man ate lip balm for dinner.

6:50 am-----left Hut for the Middle

7:22 am-----start of North Ridge of the Middle

8:24 am-----final steps to the summit of the Middle Teton

8:34 am-----start descent to South Teton Col

9:12 am-----arrive at Col

9:25 am-----head up the South Teton

10:02 am-----summit South Teton, the Grand in the background

10:36 am-----descend Middle and summit Ice Cream Cone in 34 minutes, psyched!

11:30 am-----summit Spalding Peak

11:56 am-----final moves to summit Gilkey Peak

12:28 pm-----7 minutes before the summit of Cloudveil

1:35 pm-----begin ascent of Nez Perce

2:15 pm-----summit Nez Perce

3:10 pm-----back at base of Nez Perce
6:42 pm-----At Lupine Meadows trailhead