Monday, July 16, 2012

Grand Teton Multi Pitch Level 1 Class with Exum

We are training to climb the Grand Teton!!!

The level 1 class with Exum was exciting, enlightening, adventurous, and absolutely perfect!  My friends and family are well aware of my obsession with Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).  Today increased my passion for this absolutely stunning area.
I cannot believe how close I am to climbing the Grand Teton!  I posted about this exciting adventure here, and there are only 4 more days until this dream is a reality and we summit the Grand!  I am so glad we chose Exum Mountain Guides to help make this happen.
 Greg is pointing to the top of Teewinot, just below where we will be climibing in a few days!

We bouldered, belayed, climbed, hiked, and repelled all around the Jenny Lake area near Hidden Falls in GTNP.  This was such an exciting 8 hour day!  There was never a dull moment.

We started off getting our bags situated.  Our guide, Bill Anderson let us know we had overkill, so I consolidated some items.  By the end of me taking out rain pants, long pants, a fleece, and warm gloves, I was left with trail mix, rain jacket, 2 liters of water, as well as the helmet, harness & approach shoes provided by Exum.

Bill taught us to cautiously boulder by starting a series of bouldering.  First he watched us without any instructions and then taught us to hover our foot for a few seconds over where we wanted to step.  This helped us to balance, watch our foot placement, to find a hold that’s not too high, and to slow the pace for when we are being belayed.  We passed with flying colors!  Then we played “hot lava” to our next location.  Hot lava is when you can only put your foot on rocks or fallen wood.  This was also for coordination and balance. 

We then practiced leaning slightly forward while down hiking so that your head is in a position that if you were to drool, the drool would be in front of you.  This keeps your knees safer, taking smaller steps, and getting your weight in the right area.

Bill taught us our basic knots for climbing:  bowline, figure eight, and the overhand knot.  From there, we practiced belaying with both hands so that we could be ambidextrous on the mountain. We did this seated with our feet bolted down on a rock to stay put, keeping the most strength on the foot with the same side of your climber.  The rope goes behind your back for strength and friction.  Your body acts like a clip in the mountain.

Neal belaying Dad
We all were then hooked together with the ropes and practiced some more hot lava over to Hidden Falls.  During this, we put our excess rope around us in a Kiwi Coil so as not to have the rope tangled in our hands.  At Hidden Falls, we broke for lunch to enjoy our turkey sandwiches, chips, & homemade rice crispy treats.

That's Neal, Greg, Kim and Dad all getting thier Kiwi Coils ready so we can walk in our line. 
Post lunch, we did 5 pitches of climbing and belaying in our group formation.  This was semi-challenging and really enjoyable.  Though I was on the climbing team in high school, I have never climbed real rock, only the man made climbs at climbing gyms.

Bill said we were far ahead of schedule since we all caught on really well to the lessons, so he decided we would cover repelling.  This was the most intimidating part for me.  We belayed ourselves a little over 100 feet.  We each did this two times before heading back to the Exum station, using our down climbing skills we learned earlier.
Kim repelling

Dad repelling

The view from where we were repelling was incredible!  That's Jenny Lake.

The middle peak is the one we are climbing, the Grand Teton.  To the right is Mount Owen and to the left of the Grand sits Teewinot.  Mount Owen has more snow becaus it's not as steep as the Grand...yikes!
This class was very insightful!  I am so glad we had Bill as our guide!  He would have us each teach each other the knots, belaying or repelling techniques as he was setting up the next exercise or simply watching us instruct. 

Bill also told us we should eat all that we want and as much as we want!  Yay!  Tonight, I feasted on an amazing spinach salad with rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, olives, feta, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and a dressing of balsamic and truffle olive oil.  Right before that, Neal and I downed a free muffin from Pearl Street Bagels.  I love Pearl Street Bagels, so I picked up a half dozen for breakfast tomorrow!  Post dinner, I devoured a Chocolate Cabernet Sauvignon homemade ice cream in a waffle cone from Moo’s on the Northeast corner of the town square!  It was PERFECT! 
We are off to another class that starts at 7:45 am!  Have a great Monday!!!


  1. wow!!! what beautiful scenery!!! and I love the blog.. sounds like yall are learning a ton!! will look for your next update!!! love you :-)

    1. Thanks KB! We loved the adventure! Love you too :)