Grand Teton Diary:
Introduction to the Climb

After having been weathered off mountains on my two previous climbs, I opted for a climate region of the country where there was a better chance of dry weather for the summer of 2001. Plus, I wanted more than a mere scramble. I wanted the experience of exposed, multi-pitch, roped climbing. But not on a crag. I wanted a big mountain. And I wanted it to be a "classic". That left only one choice: the Grand Teton. And so, I set off on July 14, 2001, for Jackson, Wyoming. The goal: to discover once and for all if I enjoy climbing mountains more than having climbed mountains, if you get the distinction.

In the months leading up to the Teton climb I had settled into a routine of training: alternating days of running 3-5 miles with the days in between spent weight training and climbing on stairs with a 70 lb. pack. I felt that this should be adequate training for most summer climbing in the lower 48. It had to be adequate. Either I could do technical climbs with this level of preparation or I wouldn't climb at all, as I had (and still have) no intention of increasing the rigor of my training regimen.

The two day solo drive from Michigan to the northwest corner of Wyoming went as expected: hellaciously boring and mind-numbing. But also uneventful, thank you. As I approached Jackson, Wyoming, I anxiously peered ahead through the windshield straining for a glimpse of the magnificent Teton Range. I wanted to see the spectacle of an alpine giant, the Grand Teton, suddenly appear as I rounded the twisting mountain road. But no such visage was to be seen. I arrived in Jackson in the late afternoon on Sunday, July 15, to discover that even though Jackson was the center of civilization in the Teton area, the Teton Range, itself, was not visible because of the obscuration of nearby hills. "Patience" I told myself. I settled in for a relaxing Sunday night at the Jackson Hole Lodge knowing that I had yet another full day before the commencement of the climb on Tuesday, the 17th.

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