I took off to Jackson Hole last Saturday to meet up with a crew of girls to go climb the Grand Teton. I had only heard of the trip that week and was excited to have the chance to get in last minute on something that plans had been underway all summer. Jess Kunzer and I had an entertaining drive up from Salt Lake, boom box and roadside buffalo jerky included, and arrived with plenty of time to wander around Jackson and hit up the yard sale of Julia and her buddies. The girls casually started showing up and soon enough we had a total of 9 girls, laughing and rummaging through the gear strewn about the yard and taking turns on Vanessa’s giant pogo two-thousand that gets you seriously 7 feet in the air. Someone finally mentions something about the fact that we are here to actually climb the grand and we decide to get a move on. After a not-so-quick trip to Albertsons for food we get to the parking lot and start gearing up. After juggling ropes, tents, gear, and food, and after we talked Vanessa into not bringing the pogo stick, (the hula hoop stays, however) we finally take off, a little later than we had planned but it’s cool.
Hiking, hiking, hiking. The conversation is good and everyone is going strong. The first few miles lead a lot of us to believe that this is going to be a breeze, what’s all the hype about this place anyway? But then it gets steeper, rockier, but the views were just getting better and better. After lots of scrambling and sweating, we finally reach high camp (about 7 miles in) just as it is getting dark. Exhausted, we ate a gourmet dinner of pita bread, salami, cheese, and hummis- passed around the chocolate then bundled up and settled down. It felt really good to be cold, like- really cold. And the views were unbelievable. Camping out up there was actually my favorite part of the trip. Living in Salt Lake I sometimes forget how amazing a night sky can be. The sky that night was absolutely insane, surrounded by towering mountains, foreboding and looming above our heads. I woke up in the middle of the night to a full moon in my eyes, I got up and walked around for a little while, caught in a profound admiration of the beauty and enormity of these mountains.
The next morning we hazily dragged ourselves out of our sleeping bags and all crammed into the cook tent for coffee, hot chocolate, and energy bars. We departed and quickly got to a cave where we ditched anything and everything we didn’t need for the summit. The mountain caught on fire as the sun came up and everything was radiating a bright orange glow. Moving quickly we steadily made our way up. It was much colder now and the sweat-factor wasn’t really an issue anymore. As it started to get more technical and exposed we roped up, which was interesting with 9 people. But we got a pretty impressive train going on. Then by the time we were full on climbing pitches we had a great system going. At about 11:30 we finally reached the summit. The weather was perfect and we were stoked! The hula hoop was busted out and we got some strange looks from the Exum party that was already on top, but they joined in soon enough.
I won’t lie, the decent sucked massively. I have never been a fan of walking down- I like to ski, bike, or jump off the mountain I just hiked. Descending on foot is painful, and I am definitely still recovering from the 6 hour, 7000 foot scramble down. But all in all, it was an amazing trip. I was a little hesitant at first, going on a trip like this with a big group of girls. But things turned out perfectly, every single girl that was in our group was nothing less than inspiring. Each girl was so tremendously talented and accomplished in so many different ways along with everyone being extremely competent mountaineers and great climbers. I can’t not mention Julia Niles, our guide on the whole trip, is one of the raddest girls I have ever had the pleasure to hang out with, truly inspiring with her achievements and determination, and obvious passion for life and the mountains. Sometimes I start to lose a little faith in the general female population, but women like these remind me how powerful we can be.
By the way… check out www.shejumps.com to check out the idea behind this trip any many others, as well as a collaboration of truly amazing women doing amazing things.