Emma showed up to camp at midnight, and before we crashed we had decided to do a casual start to the next day. I was pretty desperate for a casual day. And by casual I mean eleven or twelve miles of hiking with a like four-five thousand feet of gain. As I had hoped, I woke up feeling really energetic and revitalized, and ready to break camp. I had looked for a good climb that was alpine, but mellow and not technically strenuous. I found a 5-6 pitch route up the East Ridge of Disappointment Peak which had plenty of options to bail in the case of a storm, but with plenty of low to mid fifth class. Low-mid is pretty accessible to pretty much anybody who wants to climb, and serves as a perfect introduction for most climbers. This is what I refer to as the Guides World.
My experience in the Tetons up to this point had shown me that it would be wise to move fast and be on my way out of the mountains by 2pm at the latest. So we started late, at like 10am or something, and then I had some minor hiccups finding the route. However, by the time we got to the route it looked like a really fun low commitment scramble, so we left the rope in the back and did half the climb in our approach shoes. Somewhere around what was supposed to be pitch three I put on my climbing shoes. I can’t expect everyone to be as comfortable soloing, especially onsight soloing, so we ended up roping up on the last pitch.
When I finished that pitch I looked up and saw that the summit was not the top out, so what kind of introduction to alpine climb would it be if we didn’t gain an actual summit? The scramble is mellow 3rd class and gaining the summit proper requires a 4th class move or two. From the top of Disappointment Peak you will see all of the Tetons, with the Grand towering behind. The landscape of the park from this vantage point is unparalleled.
Getting There: The start of the hike is from Lupine Meadows Trail Head, as is the Grand, Middle, and South Teton. There are also several lakes which make excellent rest day activities. In fact, when we took the 4th class ridge route to descend back we stopped at Amphitheater Lake and went for an icy swim! I highly recommend this variation to the descent!
You follow the trail until the Garnet trail splits to the left, but you continue straight on the trail at the junction towards Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. This junction is well marked. Pass Surprise Lake and continue for a relatively short distance–no longer than a mile–to Amphitheater Lake and keep on hiking along the Amphitheater’ s East Side. The East Ridge is a striking feature that looks pretty improbable for the 5.6 grade. The trail quickly deteriorates into a classic climbers trail up to the start of the climb. I’d suggest fourth classing the first two pitches as they are not technical pitches.
Overall this is a great climb, and I really had a good time. It is adequate for a first alpine climb, or an easy day to acclimate when getting into the mountains, or as a solo jaunt. On routes like these I think it’s best to just leave the topo in the car at the trail head, because there is just so much more you can do. Don’t let some route topo limit you. We found a 5.8+ variation out left of the great roof on the final pitch. Anyways, don’t listen to me, go out and choose your own adventure and see for yourself!