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

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