The Tetons – 7/18-7/19

Taryn and I had planned a mid-July roadtrip to the PNW to bike, run, climb and see some friends. A last minute positive Covid-19 test in the Seattle friend group left us with no plans and itching for adventure. With Salt Lake City literally hotter than the sun, we decided to at least escape to the Tetons for the weekend.

The Saturday plan was to climb The Snaz in Death Canyon, but after arriving at the base and seeing (what we believed to be) two parties ahead of us, we decided to climb the next-door Caveat Emptor. It turned out the party directly ahead of us was also climbing Caveat Emptor and we quickly caught them at the first belay. The climbing after the first pitch was absolutely brilliant. Pitch after pitch of shockingly splitter rock. All four 5.10 pitches were brilliant with solid jams and good gear on the challenging sections and occasional easy-but-heads-up face climbing mixed in. Who knew the Tetons had so much jamming! I definitely would not have complained having a few extra hand-sized pieces.

We were planning on walking off, having only brought in a single rope with the intention of climbing The Snaz. The party ahead of us, however, brought a tag line and left their shoes on the ground with the intention of rapping over to The Snaz and down. We were all surprised to find no fixed anchors on top of pitch 6. Taryn and I offered to let them rap off our gear which they readily agreed too. With some freshly restocked mountain karma, Taryn and I headed up the 7th pitch and then unroped and scrambled the final couple hundred feet to the top. The walk-off was loose but straightforward. All around a fun and pleasant introduction to Teton “cragging”.

The next day we decided to run up Garnet Canyon with the goal of summiting Middle Teton. Running up the switchbacks at 9am with light packs was a definite improvement over the 5am slog I’ve gotten used to the last few times climbing the Grand. We weren’t sure what sort of snow travel we would encounter, so we each brought an ice ax but no crampons or microspikes. We kept a relatively mellow pace going up Garnet with a few brief stops to filter water and chat with some friends we ran into on the trail. The couloir up the Middle Teton wasn’t too bad and we found ourselves on the summit in just under 3 hours after leaving the car. I’m super psyched at how reasonable that pace felt.

Still feeling fresh, Taryn and I were hungry for more. We headed back down to the saddle, refilled some water and headed up the South Teton. We summited around four and a half hours into the day and hung out on the top for a while. We were both still feeling great, and we briefly floated the idea of continuing along the ridge and then more seriously considered the idea of heading out Avalanche Canyone. In the end, we decided it would be nice to get back to the car on the earlier side so we could start the drive back to Salt Lake City. The run out was awesome, with some great sections of boot skiing and we cruised back down the switchbacks, getting to back to the car in just under seven hours round trip.

All in all one of the more magical days I’ve had running in the mountains. The weather was perfectly stable, the route-finding was easy, and we both felt great the entire day. I’m thrilled that a ~17 mile, 7,000 ft day was so painless and feeling very motivated to see how my fitness holds up on some longer days.