Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anniversary Number Twenty Seven

Debbie and I celebrated our 27Th anniversary this week. And we were married on the 27Th of August 1983. No exotic trip for us this year. However, we had a lot of fun. We started out with a trip to the Shakespearean Festival to attend two of the plays. The first play was "The 39 Steps" a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock's movies and quite funny. Then the evening play in the outdoor theatre of "Much Ado About Nothing". Fun and entertaining! The next morning we drove over to Zion and hiked the Subway. It was a hot sunny day before the afternoon thunderstorms flashed all around us. We had good luck on our side and avoided any storm. It was a blast to swim through the narrows and rappel the short drops with only the two of us to worry about. It made for a quick (6 hours), yet enjoyable trip through one of the most beautiful canyons in the world. Deb and I then stopped in at Oscars and had the famous "Murder Burger" with sweet potato fries to satisfy our hunger. We talked about our next 27 years and how I will be 76 years old then and how we hoped to be able to do the same hike and activities all over again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mount Moran

Eric and I climbed Mt. Moran in the Tetons. I wanted to get in one more trip with Eric before he started school. He will be in the 8th grade this year. School starts incredibly early this year (August 11th)! Our trip began with a morning session of climbing in Cedar Canyon at the Graveside Matter crag. We met John Tully there and we had a good morning of climbing stout sport climbs. Eric and I then drove to Midway and spent the night at my parents home. It was a nice yet brief visit in Midway. We got up fairly early the next morning and traveled to southwestern Idaho. On the way we stopped in Farr West and North Ogden and I showed Eric where the Chugg farm and Larsen homesteads were located. We also filled up our water containers at the old Stump Spring in North Ogden. Soon we arrived at the City of Rocks National Reserve and camped for the next 2 nights. The climbing at the "City" is similar to climbing at Joshua Tree. Tully again joined us for a day of climbing before he traveled on to Jackson to meet his brother. Eric and I did climb the Lost Arrow Tower which is a particularly stunning 2 pitch climb at the City. We would have been satisfied to stay and climb for several more days at the City, but we had plans to continue on to Grand Teton National Park. One of the first things we did in Jackson was to raft down the Alpine section of the Snake River. We enjoyed some class III rapids on a sunny afternoon with Mad River Expeditions. That evening we stayed with a park ranger in his home on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park with stunning views of the mountains and roaming buffalo. Once again we got an early start and obtained our back country permits and rented canoes for our attempt on Mt. Moran. We canoed across String Lake and then portaged to Leigh Lake and paddled across to the base of Mt. Moran. The view of our route up the mountain was visible during the trip across the lake. It looked intimidating and steep. We stashed the canoe in some bushes on the lake shore and shouldered our packs. They were very heavy with all of our gear and the hike up the steep mountainside was strenuous indeed. It took us 4 hours to reach our camp. A wooded knoll of pines near a small clear stream. The dramatic peaks of the Teton range were clearly visible to the south, including the Grand. There was more snow than usual this year on the upper flanks of the peaks giving them a more fearsome appearance. We went to bed early that night after scouting out the route above and prepared our packs for the climb. It was 3:30 a.m. when we began to stir and get out of our tents. The oatmeal seemed quite bland that morning, but the hot chocolate was warming to our bodies. At 4:30 a.m. we began our hike up the ever steeping mountain. It was tricky negotiating the ledges and rocky gullies as we approached the base of the CMC route on the east side of Mt. Moran. At first light we made it to the top of "Drizzlepuss" the formation named by the men who first climbed it over 50 years ago. It proved to be the crux of our climb. It was cold and windy just like usual high in the mountains of the Teton range early in the morning. Soon enough though we had negotiated the tricky down climb and rappel into the notch between Drizzlepuss and the main wall where the CMC route was found. As we climbed the moderately difficult face the sun warmed us up and the climbing was enjoyable. For the next several hours Tully and I swapped leads and did some simultaneous climbing to progress faster up the side of the mountain. Eric stayed between us being tied into both climbing ropes. We made the summit before noon just in time for a brief hail storm to brush by us. There were many clouds and the visibility was limited. We ate some lunch and made a phone call home but didn't spend much time on the summit as we were mindful of the potential for bad weather. The first part of the descent consisted of down climbing and we were making good progress. Soon we came to the first of several rappels. Upon pulling the rope we got it stuck and Tully had to re-climb the pitch and free the rope. This delayed us for about an hour and caused us some grief. While negotiating the next rappel a strong thunderstorm bore down on us. It dropped lots of hail on us and soon it was coating everything with about an inch of hail-snow and made the rock wet. This slowed us down and brought us to a chill. With wet ropes and gear we proceeded downward (as there was no other choice). It took us a few more hours to get back to the notch below Drizzlepuss. I lead the pitch of climbing out of Drizzlepuss on wet hail-covered ledges and vertical rock for about a 100 feet. This proved to be quite challenging for me and I was very relieved to have completed it safely! Another round of hail and rain came down on us as we scrambled back down to camp. We arrived there around 7 p.m. almost 15 hours after starting out that morning. A quick dinner and we jumped into our sleeping bags in our tent and slept for 11 straight hours waking up to sunny skies and a beautiful day in the mountains. Eric and I quickly packed up and hiked down to the canoes. The lake was glass and the winds calm as we paddled back to the trailhead where the truck awaited us. We took in one last look at the Tetons before we pointed the truck southward and began a long drive home in order to get Eric back home in time for the first day of school.