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#21737 - 06/19/06 01:57 PM Re: What if.... [Re: crackers]
Chas Offline

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 1754
Loc: Flagstaff
I agree with Crackers. I've climbed at the Hogsback and if I remember right, I only remember one route worthwhile and it was a painfully crimpy .12b.

The Snaz is as easy an approach as anything in the Tetons except for things like Guides Wall or Baxter Pinnacle which are about the same.

#21738 - 06/19/06 04:22 PM Re: What if.... [Re: Chas]
rg@ofmc Offline

Registered: 12/25/99
Posts: 2472
Loc: Poughkeepsie, NY
Here's my take.

Ideally, you'd want to go for a super lowland rock climb like the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock in Yosemite or Crimson Chrysalis in Red Rocks, but in August both of these will be very hot. (Mind you, it is possible---I've done several long Yosemite climbs in August, but suffering from the heat is part of the bargain. I don't know about Red Rocks---I'd guess the heat there is a lot worse...)

So that means you have to go to higher elevations. But of course too much altitude, even if you are very lowland fit, can certainly ruin the day.

All things considered, I'd say the best choice would be the regular route on the North Face of Fairview Dome in Tuolumne. A North American classic at reasonable altitude with virtually no approach.

A second possibility, several grades easier but with wonderful climbing and views and an easy hour approach, another North American classic: the SE Buttress of Cathedral Peak in Tuolomne. This summit is still just under 11,000 feet.

Of course, considering their accessibility and the classic status, these climbs will be crowded. I'd plan to be on the rock at first light.

There are lots of other possibilities in the Sierras---Chas mentioned some and, no doubt, a good guide would know a ton.

The Petit Grepon is also a classic, but the approach is longer and the altitude higher. Lightning danger from thunderstorms is intense, and the descent, unlike the two previous climbs, requires multiple rappels. This is not a climb you start up in iffy weather with the intention of retreating if the situation deteriorates. All in all, I'd say the Culp-Bossier or the Jackson-Johnson on Hallets are a better bet.

Then there are all those Teton suggestions. I like the Tetons and have done a lot of climbs there, but I think they are particularly ill-suited to the type of lightning raid you have proposed. The Sierras are a much better bet. The Teton approaches are almost all long, and the altitude gains are thus greater. Plus, and now I surely reveal an old peak-baggers prejudice, I think it is dumb to go to a mountain area and then just climb a silly crag to nowhere. Baxter's Pinnace? Gimme a break---you might as well stay in the Gunks. Guide's Wall? Some nice climbing up to...nowhere. Ditto for Irene's. The Snaz? A very nice route on a canyon wall. (And by the way, did anyone mention the big uphill hike on the return from Death Canyon or the fact that it can get as hot as Yosemite in there in the summer?)

By far the best one-day outing you could have in the Tetons (given my scorn for cragging in a mountain area) would be the East Ridge of Teewinot (or the East Face, if you want to keep the rock-climbing difficulty low). A less cool second choice would be either the Durrance or the Jensen Ridges on Symmetry Spire, a minor summit with, however, some nice views of the north sides of the major peaks.

#21739 - 06/19/06 05:45 PM Re: What if.... [Re: JoeKayak]
fallenglass Offline

Registered: 08/01/03
Posts: 276
Loc: cornwall
how about devil's tower for a weekend trip?

#21740 - 06/19/06 05:52 PM Re: What if.... [Re: fallenglass]
Chas Offline

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 1754
Loc: Flagstaff
The only problem with Devils Tower is that it is in the middle of nowhere. You could fly into the Black Hills which would be changing planes 3x from the East Coast and in the end would probably be fairly expensive. Then you would need to rent a car, and its been a while since I did that drive (about 8 or 9 yrs) but its an hour or two.

#21741 - 06/19/06 06:08 PM Re: What if.... Tetons [Re: Chas]
Jannette Offline


Registered: 10/03/00
Posts: 2226
Loc: Gardiner, NY
A friend (who isn't registered on saw this thread and emailed me a detailed report of her experiences with climbing in the Tetons. She also highly recommended going to Idaho and climbing at City of Rocks. She gave me the OK to post her trip report here in case you do decide to go to the Tetons (and also for the benefit of browndog2 and gang). While it may not be the best solution for a weekend road trip, the beta is great for someone like me who will be there for a family vacation in Yellowstone & the Tetons who wants to squeeze in some climbing while I'm there. Many thanks to Monica for taking the time to compile all this beta...

I climbed there for three days with a guide about 6 or 7 years ago. Here's the scoop from my trip -

I climbed with Paul Horton from Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and he was great. I don't think he guides anymore but I still keep in touch with him and he could give you any info/advice you'd like and hook you up with one of their guides. I'm not sure exactly why I chose them over Exum, but I think my impression was that they are more low-key, less glitzy than Exum.

I am lousy at estimating time so I put ??? after all the estimates I am not sure about. It's a bit of a jumble of info from my trip 6 -7 years ago plus when Glenn and I were there last year.

I signed up for three days and we spent the first day at the local limestone cliff they told you about. It was a foggy day plus the guide wanted to get a sense for my abilities before striking out on harder routes. I think it is an informal "rule" that this particular local limestone cliff is for JHMG use and it isn't used by the other guides and I don't think it gets much publicity. When I was back in Jackson a year ago, Glenn and I went there to warm up for other things we had planned. There are a handful of nice, easy leads about 5.5 - 5.6, and a great 5.9 we toproped (bolted anchors). It looks like there's be a lot more climbing there but I've only done the handful of routes right at the first part of the cliff you get to from the trail. It's about 70 ft high?... A good, fun warmup area, may be not enough there to justify a full guided day. It would actually be a good place for climbing with your daughters - doing the easy leads or hiking around to set them up from above. Hike from the car is about 15 minutes?

The next day we did Baxter's Pinnacle. The hike is on the order of an hour or hour and 15 -20 minutes???? and the bulk of that meanders through fairly flat forested land along the lakeshore (beautiful). The last 20 minutes or so??? heads up hill and winds back and forth a bit before a relatively straight, steep shot to the base of Baxter's Pinnacle. The climbing is about 5 pitches, with some 5.6 moves/sections and a lot of easier terrain, until an exciting, steep last pitch. The top of the pinnacle is pretty small, when I did it (late September) we finished on a snow-covered shelf. You do one or two rappels into a scree-filled ravine behind the pinnacle, the descent back to the trail is short but pretty loose/junky. You hike out the same way you hiked in. Baxter's is set pretty low along the front of the Tetons, so it isn't exactly an "alpine" type setting or feel, but it is a beautiful pinnacle, fun to be on top, easy fun rock climbing and a fun day all around. It seems to be the easiest-access rock climb around.

Glenn and I went to do Baxter's when we were there last summer but the weather was iffy so we did a two-pitch route a short distance left of there - No Perches Required. If you headed for Baxter and had to bail due to weather it is a fun route but would be a bit of a let-down for a guided day (expensive for a two-pitch route!). We actually lead an easy pitch to the left of the first 5.9 pitch, lead the bolted second pitch (great), and then set up a toprope on the strenuous 5.9 first pitch (great). Fun day for us given the weather. We called the easier first pitch variation I lead No Pants Required, as I did the leading (the lady of the team), and Glenn had forgotten long pants which is one of the reasons we decided against trying Baxter's with potentially bad weather coming in.

The last day of my three-day guided trip years ago we did Guide's wall. You start in from the same trail as for Baxter's, but where the Baxter's trail veers uphill for the last hike up to the Pinnacle, you keep going a bit further and head up the next canyon instead. I'd guess the approach takes almost twice as long as Baxter's, with the canyon section consisting of more uphill but not arduous until the last bit to scramble up to the base of the Guide's wall (I completely forget how long that scramble is - 15 minutes? The guides would know). We did one of the classic routes on Guides wall, with a nice mix of 5.6 - 5.8 sustained climbing for 2 or 3 pitches, followed by a 5.9 finger crack that is great. Then we rappeled 2 - 3 times, scrambled down a ways back to the same descent as we'd hike up. This is a relatively short climb, just a few pitches - it may be four or five with a few short scrambles in there somewhere??? and ends well below any summit or "top" of the buttress, so it does not provide any alpine or big mountain feel. It's a nice all-around day though and the climbing is more sustained than on Baxter's. I was in good shape then, and I was pretty tired at the end of the third day.

This past summer, Glenn and I hired another JHMG guide to take us up the Snaz - a very sustained 5.9 in Death Canyon. That takes about 1 1/2 hour to hike in, nothing too strenuous until about the last 30 minutes up to the base. The hike in does take a big dip - there's a fairly good downhill section to a low point, but that is only a problem on the way out, not the way in. The route is about 7 pitches with sustained, great climbing. Some 5.8's but at least 4? pitches with sustained 5.9 crack climbing - mainly jam/layback type crack moves as opposed to finger locks. It follows an obvious dihedral the whole way. Great setting, views both up- and down-canyon from the top. It's got a roundabout hike down through fairly steep, loose terrain to the trail below the final hike up - our guide let us rest there while he scrambled to the base of the route a second time to get the things we'd stashed there while we climbed. The hike out goes down at first, and then finishes with that final big uphill, that was pretty darn tiring at the end of the day. We had three people climbing in all, so were slower than you'd be, but it took from about 5:00 a.m. (or 5:30?) to about 5:00 p.m. car to car.

I had researched numerous other possible alpine climbs for Glenn and I to do on our own while we were there, and they all had much longer approaches than any of these. Irene's Arrete was one of them but we opted for Baxter's on our own (turned into No Perches day) and the guided day on the Snaz. The rest of the time in Jackson we were biking.

If you can swing it, I'd highly recommend trying to get to City of Rocks in south-central Idaho. It's a beautiful high desert park in the middle of nowhere, with huge rock formations sticking up like all kinds of big potatoes. The climbing is AMAZING, you can camp at really neat campsites set around the base of the rocks (or stay in hotels the closest of which are about half an hour away). The rocks stick up so you can find shady faces any time of day to climb in the shade, and there are a full range of GREAT trad and bolted sport routes there that would be great for leading and having your daughters climb. City of Rocks is just about my favorite place on earth to climb. It's about 4 hours??? drive from Jackson though so you may not want to go that far. If you do though, I could suggest a ton of great routes to aim for.

Well this is a lot of information - hope it helps a bit.

#21742 - 06/19/06 07:23 PM Re: What if.... Tetons [Re: Jannette]
Chas Offline

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 1754
Loc: Flagstaff
City of Rocks is also a really nice place to climb, but a) it is strickly a cragging area. It is like a J-Tree (with the rock formations) with a Tuolumne rock texture and b) it is really out in the middle of nowhere. If I was going to do a weekend trip from the East Coast I would not do it since you would literally spend your entire time flying/driving. There are very good climbs there like Crack of Doom and Strategic Defense...

#21743 - 06/20/06 12:27 AM Re: What if... [Re: Chas]
Frank Florence Offline

Registered: 01/05/00
Posts: 529
Loc: moved to Bend
JoeK -

If you're still interested in other suggestions, you might think about the Washington Pass area in the North Cascades. The logistics aren't too bad: fly to Sea-Tac, rent a car, drive a few hours, and you're there. The elevation of the pass is approximately 5,000' and you're in stunning alpine country, surrounded by lofty granite spires. Lexington Tower, Concord, and Liberty Bell are all right there, with routes at a wide variety of grades. A longer approach will get you over to the Chianti Spire and the other wine spires where you can really feel like you're out on your own. There are multiple guiding services based out of Seattle and Bellingham that you can contact. Best weather is from July 15th through around the third week of August. Have fun.

#21744 - 06/20/06 03:39 PM Re: What if... [Re: Frank Florence]
JoeKayak Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/21/02
Posts: 970
Loc: Manhattan

Thanks Frank, RG, Jannette, Les, Chas, et al....I am still interested and am reading these closely. These are great suggestions and I'm looking forward to figuring out what the weekend will and then following up on many of these. And I will surely post before and after!


#21745 - 06/20/06 08:06 PM Re: What if... [Re: Frank Florence]
Chas Offline

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 1754
Loc: Flagstaff
Frank is right about the assessibility of the Cascades. You may also want to check out the Index area (not necessarily for the Index Wall but things like Dragonstail and such. Long Alpine climbing relatively close to the road, and close to Seatac Airport.

#21746 - 06/23/06 04:11 PM Re: What if... [Re: Chas]
nerdom Offline
Pooh-Bah *

Registered: 09/07/01
Posts: 2483
Loc: Davis Sq., MA

The Irene's approach is not that bad, and for a day trip, you're not carrying much weight. A fit person sans overnight pack could do the hike in 1 1/2 hours. Also, there's water practically all the way up, so no need to carry much on the approach.

The Snaz is a fantastic route as well, and the approach is about the same (except that, as RG noted, you hike down, then up on the way in and out; but again, you're not carrying much weight and much of the approach is shaded). Death Canyon is a beautifully scenic place, too. We did The Snaz on our first day, with zero acclimatization, and did just fine; we were back in town for dinner at a reasonable hour (and that was with a late start).

Of the two routes, I think The Snaz is the more difficult technically of the two, if only slightly.

edited to add: with all due respect to our resident legend, RG, the East Face of Teewinot is simply a 4th class scramble. Sure, you top out on a cool, tiny peak, with a stunning view of Mt. Owen, the North Ridge of the Grand Teton and other stuff, but the "climbing" such as it is, is nothing (and it tops out at better than 12,000 feet). "Summiting" Disappointment Peak via Irene's Arete, after ascending technically challenging, vertical, perfect granite, is far, far more rewarding, IMHO. If I had one route to do in a day car-to-car in the Tetons, it would be Irene's (and don't skip the 5.10 crux pitch - there's easier bypasses - because it's way cool and not that difficult; Teton grades are a little soft).

P.S. - see my Tetons TR in the TR section for Irene's and The Snaz (despite the weather related epic on Irene's, we manged to enjoy the climbing all the way to the top.)

Edited by nerdom (06/23/06 04:27 PM)
we're all living proof that nothing lasts

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