I left Seattle after lunch on Wednesday afternoon. Around 500 miles later I pulled into a dimly lit parking lot between a Chevron and a Travelodge. Crawling into my sleeping bag with the alarm set for 6am, I drifted into a blissful stealth-camping-in-a-motel-parking-lot-sleep outside of Butte, Montana.
A few hours later I was back on the road, truckstop coffee in hand. I swung by the airport in Jackson, WY to pick up my climbing partner and we arrived at Grand Teton National Park around two in the afternoon.
After lucking out at the ranger station with camping permits for that same night, we hightailed it to the trailhead. I packed my gear, checked it twice and we set off on the long hike to the base of the tallest mountain in the range, Grand Teton.
Five hours in and 2,000ft from the base of our climb, we setup camp as the sun disappeared behind a ridge. I burned my mouth eating jet boiled rice and refilled my water supply from an ice cold stream. From my bivy sack nestled in a small cave, I quickly fell asleep and avoided most of the wind that night.
The 4am alarm came early. I brewed coffee and oatmeal and stashed my backpack between some boulders. We set off by headlamp to pick our way up switchbacks and through boulder fields. I realized I’d forgotten my gloves in the car around the same time the wind picked up.
We climbed the upper exum ridge over the next few hours with no one else in sight. We reached the 13,775ft summit around 3pm and enjoyed the breathtaking views for about 10 minutes, before embarking on the long decent to our stashed gear some 4,000ft below.
Two rappels, steep fields of talus, and whole lot of wind later we arrived at our bags. From there we decended the remaining switchbacks to a snowfield another 1,000ft below to camp for the night. With headlamp and elation I inhaled my mac and cheese and abruptly fell asleep.
The next morning I awoke to brilliant sunlight reflecting off the snow and my breath hung in the air. We hiked 5 miles back to the truck and drove to Jackson for dinner. The next morning I drove straight through to Seattle.