We woke up early on Friday morning–3am–I think. I can’t remember. It was pretty early. That would be like 2am San Diego time. We had decided to stay at the American Alpine Club’s Climbers Ranch in Grand Teton National Park–just ten minutes drive from Lupine Meadows Trailhead. On this beautiful alpine summer morning out objective was Open Book (5.9), located on the South Face of Disappointment Peak. The air was fresh, and I am usually pretty silent on these early approaches. While I don’t mind mornings, and would consider myself a morning person, I am not all that sociable at that time of day. I don’t like headlamps all that much, and turned mine off long before the light crested the mountains in the East.
I was impatient, and considering what to do next after the climb and the Tetons. Should I go back to Lander? That idea seemed to be stuck in my head. I really really like Lander, Wyoming. Should I cruise west into Washington state and visit friends I haven’t seen in years? Maybe I could just go to Utah to my cousins house and rest for a couple of days and gather my wits and meet with friends and climb in Utah’s Wasatch Range. I also hadn’t checked my financial situation in over a week, so I was feeling a little anxious about how low my bank account was.
When my mind goes to these places the best thing you can do is get me on a wall. Have me tie in and link up the first two pitches, and that’ll usually snap me out of it. That did just the trick on Open Book. I tied in, racked up, and stepped up onto two of the most beautiful finger crack dihedral pitches I’ve ever climbed. The second pitch was world class moderate finger splitter, and while I was on it I could feel my heart thump in my chest with excitement. The burden of my angst lifted, and I was just able to be.
That’s what climbing does for me. It really just allows me to escape from myself and indulge in the harmony of a mental exercise that I execute physically. Emma led the next pitch, which was heads up 5.8, but it felt awfully 5.9 to me. Great lead by the way. The finger crack stem corner on that pitch was world class as well–unbelievably polished granite with a perfect finger crack on the left wall.
The approach took double the time of the climb. We climbed all five or six (depends who you ask) pitches in just over an hour at a leisurely pace. As we hiked down from the Amphitheater Lake area we were bombarded with crowds and heat. It was the most people I had seen on the trail that whole week, and I’d ran up and down it several times–4 of 5 days–that week. It was time to go. But where?
I made some acid coffee which I tried to push on Emma. She wasn’t a fan. It’s pretty disgusting. When I used to drink alcohol I didn’t drink for the taste, and that’s usually the same with my coffee. If battery acid gave me a better spring than coffee I’d probably drink that. We ate lunch, said our goodbyes, and she headed Northwest to Montana, and I went Southwest through Idaho and into Utah.
When I got to my Cousin Suzanne’s I was so grateful to sleep in a bed. There was a Large Pepperoni Pizza, and a selection of Craft Root Beer in the fridge. My idea of heaven. I’d just spent almost all of July living between my two person tent and the backseat of my Subaru Legacy. I decided to put my decisions until the morning, but sent off some texts to the people I know up around Lake Tahoe and Reno. I got some responses, but being the weekend I wasn’t all that psyched on trying to maneuver through the traffic, or try to find a place where I could camp in peace (for free). I thought about my family, and I missed them terribly. None of the texts from my friends in Salt Lake had come back, so I just headed southbound on I-15. By the time the texts were returned I was two hours south of Salt Lake and committed home.
Thousands and thousands of feet of alpine granite climbing in the Wind River Range, and Grand Tetons was a dream. I solo’d the Grand (Exum Ridge and came down Owen Spalding), Middle Teton (Dike Route to South East Ridge), and South Teton in a day. I climbed world class rock everyday but two my entire time in Wyoming. I had walked out of the Winds right into the International Climbers Festival and met Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell and Jonathan Siegrist, along with a handful of other professional climbers. I sport climbed amazing Sandstone and Limestone outside of Lander in Sinks Canyon and Wild Iris. I thought about it all, and was content with the trip.
Sometimes I try to make something that’s already perfect even better, and in doing so I just end up defeating the purpose of the adventure in the first place. Sometimes the adventure is over, and it presents an opportune time to go home and relax. In my case, an opportune time to go home and work compulsively until I make myself sick!
However, I also decided that I’d go home and work my ass off, because I’m going to leave again this weekend, and I don’t have to be back until August 24th. See you in a few days Tahoe, Yosemite, Sierra Eastside, and Needles!!!