The Grand Teton, September 13 2015 - Mark Rafferty
Climbing Joshua Tree 2015

The Grand Teton. One of the most excruciating approaches I've ever done. Starting your approach from the Lupine Meadows trail in the park your looking at a 7,500 vertical gain from the valley floor, 8 miles one way. We were told before we went up that its a "route finding nightmare." About 6 miles up we reached the second sections of camp sites called "The Moraine." Looking for a spot to came we ended up a mile off trail looking for the camp. Once we reached camp our bodies were exhausted. Barely having enough energy to cook up some dinner we crashed instantly. The following morning was summit day. Which the rest of the approach to the lower and upper saddle wasn't as hard, but still was a thigh burner. Finding the start of the Petzoldt Ridge was sort of a guessing game. Reading the description trying to vision what it look like made it hard because each of us had a different vision of what the ridge looked like. However we did manage to find it and stay on route. The second and and third pitches I believe would be the crux of the entire climb. The rest was basically a free solo. I think we roped up twice on the Upper Exum Ridge, could be because we were to lazy to get set up or it was super easy. Yes, throughout the entire climb we got off route about three or four times. Which made us even more tired. Coming down during a sunset was one of my favorite parts. Seeing all the way across to Idaho from a 13,000+ foot summit with the sun hitting the horizon, creating so many different color patterns while you are on a free hanging rappel to Owen Spalding. It was by far one of the best experiences in my entire life. As a climber, as soon as your summit goal is accomplished your always looking for more. Who knows what that might be.