Andy in the Rockies

Trip reports, videos, and photos from hiking, climbing,
and mountaineering adventures in Colorado and beyond.

Mount Moran - CMC Route
September 4, 2005 - September 6, 2005

Bookmark and Share

Photos [hide]

Alpine glow bathed Teewinot, Grand Teton, and Mount Owen as we prepared for...Alan and Eric paddle across String Lake....Mount Moran looms big as we paddle across Leigh Lake....The 3000' climb to CMC Camp from Leigh Lake was a real grunt....The West Horn, Falling Ice Glacier, and the East Horn towered over us as we...We were just able to squeeze our tents into relatively rock-free spaces at ...We left camp for our summit bid at 03:45....It turns out we started a bit early because when we got to the top of Drizz...Eric downclimbs toward the notch. Barry (red jacket) is standing at the rap...Me rapping into the notch....Alpine glow on the CMC Route....Me traversing below Unsoeld's Needle....Alan and Eric passing Unsoeld's Needle....Barry runs out of protection and belays me up to him....Me leading the second pitch....Alan leads the second pitch....Barry follows across the easy slabs before entering the gully....Me leading the third pitch up into the gully....Eric climbs to climber's right of the gully....Barry leads the fifth and final pitch out of the gully and onto easier terr...Barry scrambles across easy slabs at the top of the CMC Route. Teewinot and...Looking down at Alan and Eric as they begin the last bit of scrambling to t...Eric, Barry, Alan, and me on the summit of Mount Moran....Looking down at the upper section of CMC Route from atop the Black Dike....Beginning the downclimb of the CMC Route....Eric scrambles across a trickier section of the downclimb....Barry performs the first rappel....Alan on the second rappel....Alan follows Eric's lead out of the notch and up Drizzlepuss....Barry packs up the rope after the climb out of the notch and up Drizzlepuss...Hiking back down to camp from Drizzlepuss. It ended up taking us sixteen ho...Me close to the end of our descent from CMC Camp down to the canoes....
Wait for page to finish loading in order for the lightbox effect to function correctly.

Video [hide]

Trip Report [hide]


When I climbed Marble Mountain with Alan and Barry in November 2004 they mentioned their plan to climb Mount Moran the following summer. They had a third partner lined up - Eric - and were looking for a fourth. At the time I had just started rock climbing and could only dream of tackling such a challenging multi-pitch climb. I expressed my interest nonetheless. Alan and Barry took me seriously and I was in.

For the next three quarters of a year I did my best to prepare myself - doing a lot of gym climbing, some sport climbing, a little outdoor rock climbing, and some more difficult scrambling. When September rolled around I was as prepared as I was going to get. I had enough confidence that I wasn't going to totally embarrass myself, but at the same time I was glad I was going with much more experienced climbers. I knew I was in good hands.

The Approach - September 4, 2005

The first day of our Mount Moran adventure began in an amusing fashion. We had spent the previous two nights at the Climbers Ranch and set our alarms for 05:30 so we could get an early jump on the arduous approach to the CMC Camp. It took us a little while to rub the sleep out of our eyes and get started collecting our kit so we didn't really get moving around until about 06:00. We joked and chatted as we made final preparations and just as we were about to head out we heard a grumpy voice from the adjoining cabin shout, "Would you guys keep it down! In the alpine world we save our conversations for the car." Well - Alan, Eric, and I smiled at each other as we watched the countdown commence in the each other's heads. Three... two... one... was all it took for Barry to shout in retort, "Maybe, if you guys wouldn't smoke cigars stinkin' up the place and talking in your cabin until midnight!" This wasn't the Ritz-Carlton - this was a climbers' ranch where the bunks were $10/night and alpine starts the norm. This guy wasn't even a climber - just a dude looking for cheap lodging. They'd spent the previous night drinking cheap wine and smoking cigars not twenty feet from our cabin and got what they deserved. It was an odd start to our adventure but would provide innumerable laughs for us later. For the remainder of the trip it seemed like every other one of our sentences would start out with the phrase, "In the alpine world..."

We tossed our remaining gear into the cars, which where already loaded up with the canoes we'd rented the day before, and set off. We got to the canoe put-in just as alpine glow bathed the Grand, Owen, and Teewinot. We slid our canoes into String Lake, loaded up our gear into trash bags, and set off. Neither Eric nor I knew anything about canoeing so Barry and Alan did the steering as we navigated String Lake. String Lake was narrow and windy as we navigated past rocks, logs, and sandbars. We took the opportunity to snap a few photos and Alan shot some video. I got a couple of really cool reflection shots of Moran before we got to the end of String Lake. At the end of String Lake we had about a 100-yard portage over to the much bigger Leigh Lake. It took us another hour or so to cross Leigh Lake as we fought a little bit of a headwind. We could see pretty much the entire CMC Route as we paddled along - it looked big.

After almost two hours of paddling we pulled up below the gully leading up to Mount Moran's Falling Ice Glacier. The easy part of the approach was over and now we were in for a 3,000 vertical foot grunt up to CMC Camp. We hauled the canoes out of the water; stored our lifejackets, paddles, etc; tossed on our packs; and set off. Barry and I were a climbing team and Alan and Eric were a team so we divided up our gear accordingly. Barry was carrying the tent and half the rack and I carried the other half of the rack and the rope. On top of the rest of my normal backpacking gear this made for a really heavy pack - probably the heaviest I'd ever humped.

The gully ranged from basketball-sized cobbles down to scree and dirt, making progress slow and painful. We took frequent breaks and about a third of the way up we split from the main gully and angled up to climbers left. This section seemed a little bit easier across grass and tundra. After we progressed another third of the way up the gully we met up with a trail that traversed from climbers' right across the boulders and talus of the main gully. We continued our upward progress on the trail for a couple hundred yards until we came to split in the trail. A sign indicated that the normal trail described by all the guidebooks was closed for restoration and a new trail traversed out of the gully to climbers' left. We took this brand new trail as it switchbacked its way up to the CMC camp.

Just as we were about to reach the lower CMC camp we met a pair of climbers coming down. They had hoped to make their attempt on Mount Moran that morning, but had awoken for their alpine start during a thunderstorm. The rain and lightning didn't subside until 07:00 so they just hiked up to the top of Drizzlepuss to admire the view. We had experienced early morning showers down at the Climbers Ranch the past two mornings so we hoped we'd fair better.

It didn't take long for us to reach the CMC camp after that and we crossed a small meadow as we approached the lower camp. When we had picked up our camping permits the park rangers had told us that there was water up at the camp but we didn't see it. Alan said that when he had been up to CMC Camp a couple of years previously the meadow had a stream in it. However, it had long since dried up this season. We looked uphill and could see a couple of rocks that looked wet so we decided to hike up to the upper CMC Camp where we hoped to find water. It had taken us roughly four hours since leaving the canoes to reach the upper CMC camp and it felt great to drop our packs. We found two spots just barely large enough to hold our tents and set 'em up and then Eric went down to the wet rocks to see if there was a substantial enough water source to supply us. When he returned he said there was a tiny pool that he could probably pump water out of but it wasn't going to be easy.

As we sat and contemplated our lack of water issue a pair of climbers descended down past our camp. They had been out on the CMC Route that day, but due to their late start (because of the early morning thunderstorm) they had bailed off the route after only three pitches. We queried them about the approach, the return over Drizzlepuss, the route, and where they found water. They advised us to scout the approach in the daylight as it could be tricky to negotiate in the dark. We asked about the return over Drizzlepuss but they didn't have any worthwhile advice to offer. It was said to be tricky and the crux of the CMC route - these guys suggested leaving a rope at the top so we could toprope it on the way back but we'd already burned that bridge since we'd decided not to bring an extra rope. We asked if the route finding on the CMC Route was pretty straightforward and was there one particular line to follow. Their cryptic reply worried me a little: "There are a hundred lines on the face. One is good and the rest are marginal." They also told us to expect to spend ten hours on the face. After that we asked about water. These guys said they'd had to hike back into the gully we'd ascended to fetch water out of the stream that flowed out of Hanging Ice Glacier. After we'd asked all our specific questions we chitchatted a bit as they got ready to continue their descent. One of the climbers had been doing most of the talking but as they got ready to depart the other warned us about incoming storms and dangerous weather. In a real nonchalant voice he warned us about "unstable high-pressure systems bringing afternoon thunderstorms over from Utah... blah... blah... blah... and if you're not on the summit by 11:00 YOU'RE FUCKED!!!" And with that the two guys walked off. The way the guy said his parting warning was pretty funny - he was talking in a low, even voice - almost mumbling about the weather - and then nearly shouted, "YOU'RE FUCKED!!!" This of course provided another line for us to laugh about during the trip: "If you're not on the summit by 11:00 YOU'RE FUCKED!!!"

Being fairly wet behind the ears in "the alpine world" I hung on their every word and took everything they said pretty seriously. Their comments about 10 hours on the face and there being one good line caused me a little distress. Alan, Eric, and Barry blew off this talk much easier. Eric especially absorbed the whole exchange a lot better than I did, noticing that almost all their gear looked shiny/new and that they were using a big-wall haul bag to lug all their equipment (certainly not the most efficient/comfortable way to carry your kit in "the alpine world"). He concluded that these guys probably weren't the seasoned mountaineers they tried to portray.

After these two fellows departed there were two chores that needed to be performed before we could get started the following morning: Eric and I volunteered to scout the approach and Barry and Alan volunteered to fetch water. Eric and I gave Barry and Alan all our water carrying vessels and set off. There were two sections of the approach that needed to be figured out so we could ascend them the next morning in the dark without wasting time. The first was a just a couple hundred feet from the high camp. There was a section of steep scrambling to accomplish in order to gain a ridge and it took Eric and I several tries, at several different routes, before we found a relatively easy one. After this first section of scrambling we found a cairned climbers trail that ran uphill below another ridge and we followed this until it petered out. After the trail petered out it looked like there was no choice but to scramble up some 4th class ledges to easier ground above.

Eric and I continued scouting up the trail but it appeared the route finding difficulties were behind us. We following a well-trodden trail uphill through low, twisted pines until it exited the pines into a tundra and talus-strewn slope. We could pretty much see all the way to the Drizzlepuss-West Horn saddle and in retrospect we probably should have ended our scouting mission there and returned to camp. Instead we opted to continue our upward progress. With the objective of the Drizzlepuss-West Horn saddle and the view of the CMC Route it would afford, we could not be dissuaded from our goal.

After a long slog up the talus and scree strewn-slope we finally arrived at the Drizzlepuss-West Horn saddle. It had taken us two hours from our camp but included the time we wasted route finding. The view of Falling Ice Glacier was fantastic and as the guidebook indicated the view of the CMC Route from this vantage point was indeed terrifying. It looked very, very steep and featureless. Holy cow! Eric and I paused for a snack and rest but the wind was blowing pretty strong and it was bit cloudy so it was kind of chilly sitting up there on the saddle. After a quick break we headed back down to camp.

It took us about another hour to descend to camp and Barry and Alan were getting a little concerned about us being away so long. We reported what we'd seen, fixed some dinner, and sorted out our kit for an alpine start the next morning. We went to bed early but I had a little trouble falling asleep. My mind was racing with the vision of the huge face, warnings about route finding, and of course the fatal error of not making it to the summit by 11:00. Eventually I dozed off.

The Climb - September 5, 2005

The alarm went of at 03:00 and we slowly woke up and got our stuff together. We were on the trail by 03:45 and were thankful that Eric and I had figured out the best route for the approach up to Drizzlepuss. As always, the elevation gain just melted away in the dark and we made it up to the summit of Drizzlepuss in two hours. We were a little surprised by our rapid progress and the fact that it was still totally dark. Without being able to see what we were doing we couldn't negotiate the tricky downclimb and the rappel into the notch between Drizzlepuss and the face. Instead we hunkered down in the shelter of some boulders, turned our faces to the east, and waited for the sunrise. It was a little chilly up there but after I'd gotten all my clothing on I was comfortable enough to doze off a bit. I was feeling pretty drowsy and I worried that I might have burned too many matches the day before. The nap felt good though and I awoke about 45 minutes later feeling refreshes as the other guys sorted out their gear.

We all transitioned from our approach footwear to climbing shoes (expect for Alan and his Nike Cindercones) for the downclimb into the notch. My climbing shoes were stiff and a little painful to put on since I hadn't worn them for about two months. I wasn't sure my feet would survive the whole day in them, but at the same time I didn't want to haul my big old Vasque Sundowners up the mountain. While I was struggling with what to do I noticed that it didn't appear Barry was going to take his Adidas cross trainers with him. I asked if he was going to take them and what size his feet were. Luckily our feet were about the same size and he didn't mind if I took his shoes. I strapped Barry's shoes onto the back of my pack and we began the downclimb into the notch. (Taking Barry's shoes with me was one of the smartest things I've ever done. My feet wouldn't have survived the day without them and I'm so thankful Barry let me borrow his shoes. If I hadn't been able to use Barry's shoes I hope I would have been smart enough to carry my boots. If I'd decided to go with only my climbing shoes I might still be up there on the mountain. In the future I'll either have to get more comfortable rock shoes for alpine stuff or a pair of approach shoes I can trust.)

The downclimb into the notch seemed to be pretty straight forward, but then again Barry led the way and found the rappel station so all the rest of us had to do was follow. By the time Alan and I got down to Barry and Eric they had already set up the rappel. We all rapped down into the notch.

From the notch we turned around to gaze upon the face and CMC Route. It didn't look quite as intimidating from this vantage point and with a healthy alpine glow looked quite pretty. Barry volunteered for the first lead and I handed him all the gear as we got everything in order. We planned to simulclimb the entire route on a 60m x 8mm twin rope doubled over and Alan/Eric would do this same. We figured by simulclimbing we could get 200' pitches out of it and then we would tie the two ropes together for the descent so we could make 200' rappels.

As Barry was getting ready to set off we could swear we heard voices coming from below us. We weren't sure at first and we struggled to hear them again and look for climbers below us. To our surprise one did pop up several hundred feet below us. Naturally we were curious as to what route they were doing and where they were heading. They had done the Direct South Buttress the day before but during the rappels off the summit both of their headlamps had failed and they had been forced to bivy on the face (east of the Black Dike I believe). When it had gotten light enough to continue they had proceeded with their descent down to Ice Fall Glacier, crossed the top of the glacier, and were now searching for the notch and Drizzlepuss. We were able to direct them to the notch as we climbed away.

I belayed Barry as he began the first pitch across slabby terrain below Unsoeld's Needle. The climbing was fairly easy and he hadn't placed any pro by the time he'd climbed nearly the full rope length of 100'. I had to remind Barry to put a piece in before I set off. I climbed along the easy slabs as I followed Barry around Unsoeld's Needle. It was easy and fun and the views were spectacular. Barry crossed a small notch and then angled over onto the face as I followed along. Eric followed close behind. I crossed the small notch too and a little ways past that Barry began to run low on pro and set up a belay station. He belayed me up and he handed what little pro and draws he had left. We snapped a few photos of Eric and Alan following behind us with the West Horn, Drizzlepuss, and Falling Ice Glacier providing a spectacular backdrop.

I stashed my camera and set off on my first alpine lead. I had very little experience and could count my previous trad leads on one hand so I was a little nervous. However, the climbing was fairly easy and extremely fun. Whenever I felt like putting in a piece of pro I could always find a spot where I could use two hands. This was encouraging. The route was also very easily protected and it was fun to try out all my cams and nuts which had gotten very little use so far.

The rock on the lower section of the face was a joy to climb on. It was largely slab climbing with huge crystals for confidence-inspiring footholds, but it also contained lots of cracks and small flakes for bomber handholds. All my anxieties and fears melted away as I climbed upward. The climbing was easy and fun so that I didn't have to concentrate on the moves to much. This allowed me to focus on placing protection and just having fun!

After a while my stock of protection diminished and I set up a belay station to bring Barry up. I handed him what little gear I had left and he set off for more of the same - easy slab climbing combined with flakes and cracks for great handholds. Since finishing the traverse below Unsoeld's Needle our route had been steadily angling to climber's right. Barry continued this trajectory as I followed until his gear gave out and it was my turn to lead once more.

I sorted out the protection and set off. Immediately after I passed Barry the slope of the face relaxed and I ended up walking across a very low angle slap for a hundred feet or so to the entrance of a gully that was not much more than a hundred feet away from the Black Dike. I made the mistake of placing a piece of pro in an awkward spot as I made the first few moves into the gully and this caused me some severe rope drag until Barry could get up to that spot and clean it for me. I dragged the rope up behind me into the gully which was mostly 4th class punctuated by an awkward 5th class move past the occasional chockstone. I progress up the gully until I ran out of pro and then set up a belay to bring Barry up. By this time my feet were beginning to hurt me a bit. Actually, I was a little surprised that I had done so well and in general my feet were okay. The main problem was that it felt like the shoes were rubbing and creating blisters on the backs of my heal. When Barry joined me at the belay I took the opportunity to put some moleskin on my heels and have a Snickers Bar snack. Up until this point I had been subsisting solely on PowerGels which were doing the trick but the Snickers Bar tasted great.

After the first aid and snack break Barry took up the lead which turned out to be the final pitch. The gully seemed to be narrowing and petering out so Barry decided to exit it to climber's right toward the Black Dike. As I belayed Barry, Eric began to follow up behind us. It looked like he had opted to skip the gully and had instead climbed up along its right side. The climbing looked a little more challenging there - but fun, juggy, and easily protected. After Barry had made about a rope-length of progress he yelled down to me that the rest of the climb looked 3rd class. I followed Barry up the last pitch which was probably the most challenging climbing - actually living up to the 5.5 rating. When I had gotten above the tougher stuff I saw Barry starting to set up a belay but I told him not to bother and walked up to where he was as he pulled up the rope. We untied and packed up our kit for the scramble to the summit.

Eric and Alan arrived right behind us. We looked down at our watch and it was 10:50. "Uh-oh - we better get a move on it or we'll be FUCKED," we laughed. In reality the weather was absolutely perfect. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky, the temps were pleasant, and the breeze was minimal. We could take as much time as we wanted. The remaining scrambling up the CMC Route consisted of mostly slabby stuff broken by horizontal ledges and the occasional vertical crack. We made quick work of it and were soon on the big, broad summit. It reminded me a lot of the summit of Longs Peak and was probably about the same size. From where we topped out of the CMC Route it was a short walk up to a slightly higher point where there was a bench mark and summit log. As I began the short walk my feet rebelled. Climbing in them was fine, but walking across relatively flat ground hurt like hell. After a step or two I stopped to change out of my rock climbing shoes and into Barry's cross trainers. Ahhhhh - relief. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have Barry's shoes. Thank you Barry!

I followed Barry up to the summit and Eric and Alan joined us shortly. We were all on the summit by 11:15. We spent the next hour or so resting, snacking, taking photos, and shooting video. Unfortunately the summit log looked more like a bunch of used tissue so we didn't bother to sign it. Alan, Eric, and I marveled while Barry ate his three-day-old, gas station, barbeque sandwich - an ATTM tradition. When in the mountains that man lives on two, three, four-day old sandwiches from any Subway or quickymart he comes across. Tough as nails he is.

After we'd had our fill of the summit we prepared for the descent. Before getting back onto the face though we opted to walk out onto the Black Dike. It was a pretty cool natural feature and afforded some good views of the CMC Route. After that little detour we got out onto the face and downclimbed the part we had scrambled up. We tended towards skier's right as much as possible and soon encountered the top of the gully. Crossing over the top of the gully involved a couple of tricky moves for which I put my rock climbing shoes back on. After I had completed the moves I changed shoes again. This process of changing in and out of shoes slowed me down and Alan waited for me as Barry and Eric continued the downclimb.

Once I had Barry's shoes back on Alan and I followed behind Barry and Eric. The 3rd/4th class scramble down the face seemed to go on for a long time but eventually we caught up with Eric and Barry where they had found the first of our three rappel stations.

We were probably at least half way down the route at this point. This first rappel was only 100' but was a little awkward as we had to angle way over to skier's right to get to the next rappel station. Barry went first and angled way over until he encountered a notch that had to be crossed. He had already swung so far out to the side that he couldn't swing any farther. His two options were: (1) climb with one hand and belay himself with the other, or (2) tie a knot a little way down the rope to offer some security and climb with two hands. He chose the later and made it across the notch to the next belay station. Eric went next and negotiated the notch using the first option. Next it was my turn. When I got down to the notch I didn't think I could make the moves with one hand so I had to consider the option of tying the knot in the rope below me. However, if I went this route I would have to be careful to give myself enough room before tying the knot. If I didn't give myself enough room and ran out of rope in the middle of the move across the notch I would be totally screwed. The two ropes of our rappel where tied together at the end so I knew that if I fell off I wasn't going to fall all the way off the mountain. It seemed like the amount of rope I would need to make the moves would force me to make my extra knot only four or five feet above the knot that already tied the ropes together. Instead I decided to forgo the extra knot and just go for it. The move across the notch was spicy, especially since I knew that if I fell it was probably going to hurt, but I made it without trouble (also without style points). After I was on safer ground it was Alan's turn and he made the whole thing look easy by swinging all the way across the notch.

The next rappel was a 200-footer and it was steep enough, and went over an overhang, that we couldn't see what was below or if it would lead to another rappel station. Eric volunteered to rappel it first and disappeared over the edge. However, when the rope was tossed it got pretty well tangled and we could hear Eric cursing it as he worked the knots out. Eventually he made his way down to the final rappel station. The three of us followed.

Alan volunteered to make the final rappel first. Again, we couldn't see the bottom very well and weren't sure if there was another rappel after this or if it was downclimbing time. Alan disappeared over the edge and made his way down. He found a final rap station but radioed up to us that it looked like if he continued down a little more he could find a place to start the downclimb instead of making another rappel. He explored the options and a few minutes later radioed that we should rappel all the way to the end of the rope and begin our downclimb from there. Barry rapped down next and then it was my turn. When I made it down to Barry Alan had already taken off on the downclimb. Since I was already carrying most of the rack Barry stayed behind to carry the rope after Eric made it down.

Before I set off after Alan I switched back to my rock climbing shoes. Essentially we were downclimbing the traverse below Unsoeld's Needle we had made that morning. Alan followed the exact path we had come up and after he'd made it about two thirds of the way across he radioed back that this was probably not the best way. He recommended the rest of us traverse below. I found my way to the notch that we had crossed during the first pitch this morning and instead of staying high across the slabs I traversed down below them. The terrain I found below was more fairly steep slabs broken by the occasional ledge. The exposure wasn't terrific, but it got your attention just the same. If you fell you probably wouldn't fall all the way down to the glacier, but I didn't want to find out either. I made careful progress traversing steep slabs and narrow ledges toward Drizzlepuss. After a while I saw Alan downclimbing near the end of the traverse so that his route intersected my own - I knew I was on the right track. I watched Alan climb up a short steep slab and he was in the notch. I looked back to make sure Barry and Eric could see the route I had taken and assured them that it would go. I turned back toward the notch and finished the traverse to join Alan. Eric and Barry showed up shortly afterward.

Now in the notch the only remaining obstacle was climbing back up and over Drizzlepuss - arguable the crux of the CMC Route. We had some debate about which route to take. As we looked up at Drizzlepuss from the notch there appeared to be three options: (a) to climber's left there was an offwidth crack that seemed to go up to the rappel station, (b) directly in front of us there was an overhanging, runout, but juggy, face climb, and (c) to climber's right there was a series of zigzagging ledges connected by tricky fifth class move. We ruled out the offwidth crack as too difficult and hard to protect. Barry was gung-ho for leading the overhanging face climb, but Alan talked him out of it. It looked like a fairly tough climb (probably 5.7) and couldn't be easily protected for the first 15-20'. If you fell, you were going to land right on top of a refrigerator-size boulder in the notch. Instead we decided on the zigzagging ledge system to climber's right. Eric was probably the strongest climber among us so he volunteered to lead it. The first couple of moves were fairly tricky out of the notch and onto the first ledge. We watched Eric struggle with it for a second and then climb out of sight. Alan slowly let out rope as Eric made progress up the ledges. After Alan had let out most of the rope we heard Eric shout, "Watch me!" Alan told us that this was a disturbing sign as Eric is usually fearless. We waited expectantly for a few more moments until Eric shouted down that he was setting up the belay station.

When he was ready Alan followed. Once Alan was out of the way Barry led it while I belayed. Barry made quick work of it and I collected all my stuff before climbed up and out of the notch. I found some of the moves a little awkward, but not too bad. However, I didn't have to place any pro or do any route finding. When I reached Barry we packed up the pro and rope and continued the scramble to the top of Drizzlepuss. After about 10-15 vertical feet we were back on familiar terrain that we had downclimbed earlier that morning and in another five minutes we joined Eric and Alan on the top of Drizzlepuss.

The climb up Drizzlepuss gave me a whole new respect for Eric's climbing prowess. The moves hadn't been terribly difficult, but the route finding had been. The distances between ledges were long enough that you couldn't see from one to the other. It must have taken quite a bit of courage to pull some of those moves not knowing if there were holds above or anywhere to go. I'm glad I got to follow that pitch!

We collected the stuff we left at the top of Drizzlepuss and prepared for the descent back to camp. I surrendered Barry's shoes to him and put on my boots - thanks again Barry! It looked like his feet were beginning to hurt him (having been in climbing shoes all day). The remainder of the hike down to camp was uneventful and we arrive at about 18:45, making it a 16 hour day camp-to-camp.

It was great to be down in camp after such a successful day but we had one more challenge to surmount before we could eat some food and collapse in bed - we were totally out of water. Nobody wanted to hike all the way over to the stream coming out of the glacier, but at the same time we all needed water pretty badly. Eric and Barry volunteered to take the filter down to the wet rocks not far from camp and see if they could pump some water out of the tiny pools. While they were gone I organized my kit and call my wife to tell her I'd made it down safely. Shortly after Eric and Barry returned with enough water to see us through the night until we could hike out to the gully the following morning. We ate a little dinner and then retired to our tents for some much deserved sleep.

The Descent - September 6, 2005

We slept in relatively late the next morning and began hiking out at about 8:00am. The hike down was uneventful but a real slog. It took us about two and half hours to get down to Leigh Lake as opposed to the four hours it took us to reach CMC Camp on the way up. Once we got down to the canoes it felt great to rinse three days worth of sweat off in the brisk waters of Leigh Lake.

For the canoe trip back to the cars Barry talked me into steering. Consequently our progress wasn't quite as straight and efficient as it could have been. I'm sure from the shore we looked like a bunch of drunken canoers with my wild, zigzag course. Nevertheless we made it across Leigh Lake, the quick portage to String Lake, and then across String Lake to the cars. We loaded up the canoes and set off for Jackson. It was time to celebrate our success!

We decided to go straight into Jackson to drop of the canoes. After that we headed over to Snake River Brewery for some beer and pizza. With our thirst and hunger momentarily quenched we then headed back to the Climbers Ranch for some showers. We searched for our grumpy friend from a couple of mornings ago to ask him how "the alpine world" was during our absence but we never saw him again.

After we got showered up at the Climbers Ranch we headed over to Dornans for some more beer and food. We sat out on the patio that affords awesome view of the central Tetons. We spent the rest of the evening drinking beer, eating a little dinner, watching the sun set over the Tetons, and celebrating a fantastic climb!

Map [hide]