Some of you may remember me mentioning Zahan Billamoria’s traverse of the Tetons via Table Mountain and a solo ascent of the Exum Ridge a few weeks ago. I finally caught up with Zee and he sent me some pics and a little write up about the trip.
Wray Landon solos the Upper Exum Ridge
It is shaping up to be the hottest summer on record in Teton Valley Idaho, so Andy Tyson, Wray Landon, Josh Parker and I made a plan to beat the heat: get up high in the mountains and stay there all day. We would cross the Teton Range from West to East, over Table Mountain (11’100′) and the Grand (13’770) and down to Dornans, the local watering hole on the eastern border of Teton Park for approximately 25 miles and 11’00 feet of excitement. With a pre-dawn departure on motorcycles from Driggs the sound of knocking knees and chattering teeth provided ample reminder of how well our plan was working; we were indeed beating the heat.
We parked the BMW’s at the Teton Canyon trailhead; the west side gateway to the Tetons. With the greeting of early light we emerged onto the alpine plateau on the west side of Table Mountain. I swapped a sweater for a singlet and picked up the pace as the first summit was in sight. Skirting the summit block we made our way into the headwaters of Cascade Canyon. Like with so many Teton outings the trick here is not just being fit but being able to keep moving over loose and unpredictable terrain. With a light pack over my shoulders I kept moving–eating, drinking and taking photos in mid-stride. These are days in the mountains that I live for; light, unencumbered, and in spectacular terrain shared with great partners.
By midday we had dispatched the scree filled Dartmouth couloir leading to the lower saddle between the Grand and the Middle. We rounded the corner from Wallstreet to the Golden Stair some 1500 feet below the summit of the Grand. Padding carefully around the spooky Wallstreet corner we followed the low traverse across the airy chasm onto the Upper Exum Ridge. Now locked on to ridge, we soloed confidently over 5.4 golden granite, enjoying the company of friends and mountains. I broke in my new Sportiva Exum Ridge’s smearing, jamming and edging without so much as a hot spot.
After a brief pause on the roof of the Tetons we quickly down climbed the 5.4 chimneys of the Owen Spalding on the west side of the mountain. Back on the trail morale was high and the pace quickened again. As we neared the valley floor, the remaining 7 miles of flat trail and road loomed so we didn’t hesitate to tear off the trail into Taggart Lake for momentary respite. When we hit the road the temperatures were raging on the black asphalt as we hammered the last miles to Dornans.
Special thanks goes to La Sportiva for their awesome shoes and to Black Diamond for their continued support and great gear.