Trip Report: Irene’s Arete, GTNP

My buddy Adam and I left Salt Lake at 10:00 pm Saturday, July 16 without even a definitive plan what we were going to climb.

We settled on Irene’s Arete in GTNP. This is a bit out of my range right now with still easing back into climbing and returning from repeated shoulder injuries. We wanted an adventure and we got one.

We started the trail at 9:15 am Sunday morning in fast and light style (lol). Had a great pace through Garnett Canyon. Lost some time the last couple hundred yards looking for the start. By 2:00 pm (can’t remember exactly) we were off to the races. Adam ended up leading the whole 1,100 feet to keep us going. Super impressive.

The Tetons are definitely warmer than usual. By Pitch 4 we ran out of water. Route finding had its challenges but the last pitch threw us a ringer. We couldn’t locate the last 5.7 pitch and we ended crawling our way through a stout 5.10. We lost all our time we had on that last pitch and now had to descend down Disappointment Peak trail in the dark with no point of reference and vague beta.

Neither one of us have ever been so dehydrated. After getting lost several times, we found a path down with Google Maps that took us to a quick rap to a climbers trail down the lake. Stagnant lake water never tasted so good. Then we had 5 more miles out to the car. We reached the car at 4:30 am Monday morning. 19 hours car to car. A heaven and hell type of adventure. Some of the best quality rock climbing I have ever touched. The aesthetics, exposure, everything was just incredible.

We had two choices to turn around. Right at the beginning and again at Pitch 3. After that, it was the point of no return. You needed to finish. It was tempting to turn around but the thought kept running through my head, “You don’t real know where the limit is until you test yourself.”

Pitch 5
Pitch 4
Pitch 1

Disappointment doesn’t last forever

Disappointment seeps in when our desires don’t match the outcomes.

When we learn to separate the two and see that despite our best efforts sometimes we don’t get what we wanted.

Just go give good effort. If you can do that on a consistent basis at some point something is going to fall your way.

Disappointment disappears quicker when we can throw ourselves into the next project.

Having a greatest hits to pull from

When Jimmy Buffett steps on stage to play Margaritaville for the millionth time, it will probably delight his casual fans.

But that isn’t his art.

He knows he can play the Big 8 and people will applaud.

But when he plays deep cuts, plays a song that he never played live before…now we are dancing on the edge of failure.

Walking on the line of, “This might work” and “This might not work”–that is where art begins.

Opinionated doesn’t necessarily mean informed

The internet has given people a chance to have a microphone. It’s magical moment in time to give a voice to the voiceless. But there is a lot of cruft you have to sort through. Because while everyone has an opinion not everyone is informed.

That gap is causing a greater divide between people more than ever before. As we sort ourselves into people like us, we also create outsiders.

“How can anyone think like that?”

Well, they are not seeing what you are seeing and you are not seeing what they are seeing. The dark patterns of the internet continue and don’t appear to be slowing down. So, let’s be clear…

Our opinions aren’t facts. A quick Google search is available to amplify a story we are already telling ourselves about the world around us. If you haven’t changed your mind on something in a while, how do you know the axiom you started with is the right one?


With every point of view and with every point of reference there is a counter with what we don’t know and what we can’t discover.

These are the blind spots that plague us as humans. And as William Goldman has said, “Nobody knows anything.”

Spur of the moment

Many of us dream of hitting the open road. Escaping the stresses of the world for just a bit.

But instead of dreaming of escaping, what if we spend our time building a world that we didn’t feel like we had to flee every couple of months?

Invest a system that allows for spontaneity.

We don’t know what we are capable of doing until we start.

With every spontaneous act, we commit to stepping out of our comfort zone.

When the walls come down, there is really a lot more to see.

Lucky jar

When we get our named pull, we call it lucky.

When we don’t, we blame it on external forces. “The odds were against us.”

Yet, nothing about the jar changed. Nothing about the chances altered. It’s just the story we are telling ourselves that changes how we feel.

Our narration is there to insulate us.

The enemy of fear

In our post industrial world, what we fear more than anything is emotional exposure, risk and uncertainty. Having the spotlight on us continues to be our greatest fear.

These fears will never go away. It’s part of who we are. (And in many ways, has kept us alive.)

But fear has an enemy. It’s afraid of imagination, creativity and connection.

The only way to dance with these fears is to act. Showing up, standing up, and standing out is what makes us feel most alive.

The sound of justification

Take a step outside tonight and chances are you will be hearing a lot of fireworks going off from your neighbors.

This is the sound of when a couple people don’t follow the recommendation to light fireworks during an extreme drought.

Each one a justification:

“We do this every year.”

“It’s a tradition.”

“It’s just a couple of fireworks.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

As a thought exercise, imagine that this is only 2% of the population lighting-off fireworks. (I actually have no idea what the statistics are.)

It’s pretty loud out there.

The tragedy of the commons. When one person puts there needs above the rest.

Opportunity meets preparation

At the hight of his fame, Steve Martin was selling stadiums.

But little did people know, Martin traveled across the country for over ten years before anyone came to see his act.

Overnight successes doesn’t happen overnight.

With further examination, you will see difference makers behind the scenes showing up for years before anyone notices.

The secret then?

Keep showing up. Every day. Even if there is no spotlight. Especially when no one is watching.

Opportunities are everywhere but not everyone has put the miles in to find them.

Critics lack imagination

Depending on the reports you read, to solve climate change it would cost $300 billion to $50 trillion dollars over the next 20 years. For some critics, they point to this number and say, “Impossible. We can’t pay for this.”

Perhaps then, we look at the problem from a different prospective. 100 companies are contributing to 71% of the world’s green house gasses. But, “If we don’t do it, someone else would.”

Another way: Agriculture contributes a significant share in green house gasses. Somewhere between 24 and 31%. If everyone switched to a plant based diet then you could significantly reduce our impact. Yet again the critic in the back says, “I like hamburgers.”

And there are lots more solutions. But the critic doesn’t see a path where they can maintain the same behavior and have everyone else change.

So, how do you solve the problem then? Do we lean on personal choices or look at the system in play? Or both? Either way, it is important to understand that change is incredibly uncomfortable. It requires envisioning a world that doesn’t exist. A feeling of incompetence not know what is going to happen next.

We have to act. The environment is compelling us to make changes. Reacting is always more painful than anticipating.