It wasn’t an easy push to hike 10 miles, at 2am, gaining 6,000 vertical feet under the clouds and rainy skies. The rain increased in intensity as I finally looked up from my head-down march, and, with Bryce, agreed that we should find a place to post up and wait out the early morning storm. With the lightening and thunder nearing, the rain was becoming more than we wanted to handle. And by “more than we wanted to handle” I mean “Bryce and I wanted nothing more than to crawl under the shelter of two 50-ton boulders, huddle up, and try to dry off while staying warm.” Within 30 minutes, we realized that our shelter was so dry that we had no idea if it was still raining. Dang. I was really hoping to spend the day under this rock, resting, rather than running up some stupid ice-filled couloir with spikes sticking out of my hands and feet.
Outside, the rain had subsided, and the hike continued.
By the first signs of dawn, we were reaching the moraine between the Grand and Middle Tetons.
We climbed the fixed ropes to the Lower Saddle, separating the Middle and Grand.
On the saddle, though, we turned left, while 99.99% of parties turn right, towards the Grand. We said good morning to some of the guides and climbing rangers hanging out at the Exum huts, and marched on towards our route.
After a few simul-pitches, a bunch of scrambling, and even more guessing, we found what we guessed to be the rock traverse leading to the base of the NW Ice Couloir. This route isn’t climbed very often, so the trail wasn’t too conspicuous.
We changed from approach shoes to boots, pulled out gear, and put on crampons.