Trip Report: Grand Teton in a day

This is my third trip this season up to Grand Teton National Park. I’ve made four other attempts up there, the first when I was new to trad climbing about 8 years ago with Katie. We made a half hearted attempt and turned around at Wall Street when our ropes were going sideways.

Last year, Katie, Bart and I made an attempt at the end of the season via Petzoldt Ridge. We ended up bailing due to route finding issues and didn’t feel confident in our timing for a safe descent if we pushed forward.

This year, Adam and I climbed Petzoldt Ridge successfully but had to bail once we connected with Upper Exum so Adam could get back to work on time.

Alpine (rock) climbing is a game of patience. And I have really embraced this mentality of what could be done in a day. Bart and I decided to give Upper Exum one more go before the season ended. Last minute, we were able to get Katie to jump on. We ended up finishing in 25.5 hours car to car. No world record by any means. But a big breakthrough in pushing ourselves in what we think is possible to do in a day. We didn’t solo much but we certainly could have done some more to speed things up.

I also had stomach problem that put us behind some groups. It definitely hurt us in the long run having to cut pitches short and wait for the rock above to clear. On the way back, we also found a small cave by a large boulder to sleep for an hour. It was a much needed break.

Gear we brought:

  • BD UL Cams and Z4s from .2-3
  • A set of DMM Walnuts (per Bart’s request)
  • 8 shoulder length slings
  • 2 double length shoulder slings
  • Belay gear and a GriGri
  • Cordelette and 180 cm sling for belay stations
  • A guide draw that I made
  • Prussik and knife
  • 20 feet of webbing and couple biners in case we needed to bail
  • 2 40 meter ropes – our intention was to bring one and use a Beal Escaper until Katie jumped on.
  • Med Kit with Garmin Spot, meds, chap stick, sunscreen, climbers tape, bivy blanket, spare batteries and Goal Zero phone charger
  • Headlamp
  • Rocky Talkies
  • Crampons and ice axe

We used everything except the crampons and ice axe. It was about 3 pounds in slings and pro and another 2 of personal gear. Everything fit snug in my 25L pack. I didn’t bring climbing shoes and would have wanted them to lead the friction pitch (I’m not much of a slab climber). Fortunately, Bart led that pitch for us. I felt fine the rest of the climb with approach shoes and lead probably 65% of the climb (Golden staircase, Wind Tunnel, some of the Jern, everything above the Friction except the V-pitch).


  • Patagonia Capilene Base Layer Expedition bottoms and top
  • Patagonia Softshell Pants
  • Patagonia Airshed Pullover
  • Patagonia Houdini Jacket
  • Patagonia Micro Puff
  • Patagonia Nano Air Vest
  • Patagonia Expedition Balaclava
  • Random headband
  • Petzl Belay Gloves and Showa Temres Gloves
  • Two pairs of socks (I like to switch out for the descent to avoid blisters)

Again I used everything. And I was rarely cold at the belays and was able to shed properly as the day warmed up for us. I probably could have switched out the pants for Patagonia Houdini Pants and probably some lightweight hiking shorts for the approach. But overall, it was a fantastic setup.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Colin Haley’s words on clothing, it definitely changed how I view clothing systems in the alpine. I essentially ripped off everything he recommends.