Cathedral Traverse

Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.

The Tetons have always been one of those ranges that I couldn't quite explain why I'd never been. They're relatively close to Missoula. The peaks are the definition of iconic, and the approaches, while tall, are amazingly close to the road. With some time to kill this summer, I pointed Ruth's Astro (AKA Sebastian) Jackson ways with no plans and no partners. Soloing terrain, as anticipated, was plentiful. After a false start with a poorly matched MountainProject.com partner, I found more than competent friends in Clark and Simone to rope up with. Ryan and Melissa were super generous with their couch in Jackson and were a reliable source of quality entertainment. Looking forward to living in their extra room as soon as I can figure out a way to pay rent!

Before leaving the range, I wanted to try running around as many peaks in the central Tetons as I could in a day. Clark, an intern at the American Alpine Club's Grand Teton Climbers Ranch, and I started up Teewinot at 3:30 in the morning, climbed it, a series of rad sub-peaks, Mt. Owen, and then summited the Grand Teton via the north ridge by 4 pm. It was Clark's first trip up the Grand, and we spent a healthy amount of time feasting our senses on the experience.

The bottom picture in this post a good illustration of our day. In it, Clark scopes the descent from the top of Teewinot. From there, we traversed to Owen, on the right side of the frame, before climbing the obvious right skyline of the Grand, back and center. We descended to the lower saddle with plenty of time. With good spirits and comfortable seats in the talus, we watched the sun dip towards Idaho before beginning our own descent the other direction towards the trailhead.

The common name for our ascent is the Cathedral Traverse, I'd assume for the parapets poking up from the flanks of the three mountains when looking at them from the north. The obvious goal in the central Tetons, though, is the Grand Traverse, which climbs the Cathedral, and continues on to climb six more peaks before finally descending from altitude. However, we started our day with no goals (and more importantly, no bivy gear), and were therefore free from an ego-busting failure for not finishing something. It was a liberating and enjoyable way to climb.

The next morning I skedaddled out of Jackson, heading to Missoula feeling rich.


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