Jackson Hole Day Three: Practicing Alpinism

Jordan & Chris @ Exum

The days keep getting better and better out here.  Today was our first day of multi-pitch climbing training with the guides at Exum Guides.  We took the ferry across Jenny Lake to the Exum training grounds where our guide Dan Starr taught us several knots, some associated vocabulary to use on the mountain, and the hip belay technique to use for low angle friction climbs.  Although Jordan and I are pretty familiar with rock climbing in a gym setting, we still found ourselves learning a lot. Exum places a huge importance on using the right techniques for the right mountain settings (rock climbing, friction climbing, mountianeering, etc.).  Since elements like weather can closely affect the safety of climbers, moving quickly (but not rushing) as a climbing party leads to safer climbs.  Whether we are flaking rope out before a pitch, tying in, or belaying, using the appropriate technique and being prepared and ready is going to be important on the Grand.  Since we’re familiar with the concept of “ready golf," this is something that resonated well with Douglas and me.

After practicing the techniques in a pretty basic setting and a quick break for some lunch, we put our newfound knowledge to use climbing some pitches next to Hidden Falls.

Upon reaching the top, Dan taught us the art of the rappel.  We’ll have to use this technique to get down a few of the big vertical stretches on the Grand Teton.

After rappel training, Dan set up a top rope and we practiced climbing a nice 35 foot 5.7/5.8 route.  It was a blast to do some vertical climbing outdoors with great scenery all around us.

All in all, it was a great day and a great opportunity for us to learn the ropes (no pun intended).  Tomorrow’s training will be more substantial and similar to the types of climbing we’ll be encountering on the Grand.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

Douglas and Gideon enjoying the view at our rappel spot

Click here for more photos from our trip.