Monday, August 30, 2010

Wind River Reflections

Christie Smith and I (Scotty McGee) set off for this southern Wind River Range smorgasbord of granite, just south of the renowned Cirque of the Towers, in search of some time in a pristine setting on stellar rock. Fulfilling a dream to find great climbing and camping was not as far-fetched as one might think...

Clear Lake Basecamp, August 25

Dinner down by the lake provided a spectacular sunset show on Haystack's west face. Steeple and East Temple Peaks over to the right.

Wolf's Head Alpine Start, August 26
After a first night at Clear Lake under 'perfect' weather conditions, we woke early catching early sun on Warbonnet on our way to Wolf's Head in the Cirque of the Towers.


Temple and Schiestler on Ford Lake in the quiet dawn

Walking the Rocks around Ford Lake

The Cirque comes into full view with Pingora casting her shadow on Wolf's Head's summit pinnacles.

Arrowhead Lake couldn't be better named.

The Cirque's gateway falls

Wolf's Head starting ramp, 1st pitch

...just a casual climber...

...puttin' vertical behind her...

...and smilin' all the way!

The "fortuitous horizontal foot traverse"...too bad about the weather, huh?

The way home, moonlit miles to go before we sleep.

August 28, attempt on Haystack

We head up in hopes of climbing one of the northern routes on Haystack, with growing views as we climb.

View from Haystack's north shoulder of E. Temple, with Deep Lake in front

Later on, a thunderstorm. Strike on Haystack! (at 33 seconds)
Our position was away from the lake and well below the ridge with much higher points all around, making us an unlikely target for lightning.

Despite turning bluebird after each ferocious crescendo of flash and rumble, the weather seemed to turn to fall in a matter of hours and many more leaves took on the red mantle of fall. The grouseberries were still popping but the sense that snow is on the way was hard to shake. Some climbing rescue, leading and rope practice rounded out our visit to Clear Lake. So much left unclimbed, we're bound to return.

Scott McGee coaches the PSIA Nordic Team (USA) and manages programs for Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School in Wyoming. Scott spends his summers guiding climbs in the Tetons (and other ranges) for Exum Mountain Guides.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grand Teton with Craig, Chris and Paul

This amazing crew of three topped out on the Grand Teton at 9:35 yesterday morning. We had climbed together in Exum Mountain Guides' Multi-pitch I school, and they climbed with guide Mike Abbey for their MP II day. Without a day off in between, they set off for the Grand Teton Sunday morning with a promising forecast and  a bright attitude.
...and dawn's early light on the Enclosure

Embarking on the Owen Spaulding Rout, we encountered a dry Belly Roll Pitch, while the crawl had islands of dry rock amid a lake of clear ice. Rockhopping with the abyss of the Black Ice couloir below at the head of the sweeping Valhalla Canyon, got your attention to say the least. The snow in the Double Chimneys was a surprise, which kept us stepping carefully to keep shoe rubber dry. Stemming and a few key chipped off holds got us up to the verglas in the last 15 feet of the Owen Chimney.  

The rest was a cruise and after Jim Williams' Exum party departed, we enjoyed the windless summit to ourselves and stunning views of ID, WY and MT and the Greater Yellowstone ranges.An amazing summit day was had and everyone performed at a top level - no falls, no injuries; we overcame the unexpected and relished in the gifts of the day. Not even rain marred the amazing weather, though we did get some awesome lightning, thunder and a big, thick rainbow.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rainier 2010 - Ultimate Software

The stalwart team of Ultimate Software leaders met in Seattle on July 30 for an attempt on Rainier. We had a great group and a great time, and though the summit eluded us, we reached our own high point and bring home great memories and new ways of working together, inspiring and supporting each other, and pushing individual and group limits to foster teamwork and leadership.
Helping hands are everywhere!
Tight is right!...helping each other succeed.

Walking down is important!...crampon technique is key.
Camp Schurman and the Emmons Glacier route - look for the line going straight up above the camp, that turns left between crevasses to reach 'The Corridor.' From there, as our summit team will attest, the route goes straight up on poorly established steps, until finally cutting right and easing off to reach the saddle between Liberty Cap (R) and the summit proper (L).
The view back toward the trailhead from the top of Steamboat Prow above Camp Schurman. the distant lake in the middle of the White River drainage is about a mile shy of the trailhead. Thank goodness for the Inter Glacier glissade!

Dawn comes in spectacularly!
Check out the red light reflecting off of the glare ice on the lower glacier - a rare sight!

Reaching our summit...7 am.
Bound for SeaTac and home again!