Where does my trip start?
The Grand begins in the little ski hamlet of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. You’ll meet your leaders and other Moondancers at the Jackson Hole airport before embarking on your backpacking section in the Wind River Range.
What happens in a typical day?
There is no typical day on a Moondance adventure! You may be rock climbing one day, backpacking the next, or whitewater rafting along the Snake River. Some days you may have the chance to relax by a mountain lake and fly fish or toss a Frisbee; other days you may be weaving through Class IV rapids. Either way, each day will be filled with a new adventurous activity. After a day of fishing, learning how to belay, or summiting the Grand Teton, your group will find a beautiful site to set up camp for the evening and enjoy a warm meal with a hot drink. No matter what adventure you choose, each night ends with ‘Moonup;’ a chance to debrief the day, talk about upcoming adventures and challenges, and just hang out.
How is The Grand different than Big Wild?
Unlike the Big Wild, on The Grand you will be making a summit bid of The Grand Teton — one of the most photographed and most popular peaks in North America! It was towering over you during your backpacking section, and now you’ll have an opportunity to summit it. This is a technical climb, and with the instruction of Exum Mountain Guides, you will learn the necessary skills to safely ascend the Grand. The Grand is also a 21-day adventure, while the Big Wild is only an 17-day adventure. Furthermore, The Grand is a Leadership adventure, so the roles and responsibilities of the students on this adventure are a bit more demanding than that of the Big Wild, which is a Multisport trip.
Where is the Wind River Range?
The Wind River Range is found deep in the heart of west central Wyoming and boasts some of the most spectacular views found within the Rocky Mountains. Excellent granite walls for rock climbing combined with sweeping valleys and subalpine forests make the Winds an ideal location for every adventurer.
Do I need any special gear for rock climbing? What about experience?
There is no extra gear required for any climbing section on Moondance. It’s great if you have your own climbing shoes — bring them! — but our professional guides will supply us with everything we need including ropes, harnesses, shoes when necessary, and helmets. Absolutely no experience is required to have fun on the rock. Once you try it, you’ll realize that the learning curve is high!
Do I need any special gear in order to summit the Grand Teton?
During climbing school, you will obtain all of the necessary gear and learn all of the essentials of climbing from Exum Mountain Guides days before your summit attempt of the Grand Teton. You will learn the fundamentals of knot tying, belaying, and “clipping in,” as well as practice multi-pitch climbs on Cube’s Point or Baxter’s Pinnacle. You will spend your first day hiking and climbing to base camp at just over 11,000 feet; after a good night’s rest and a hearty early morning breakfast, you will ascend to the Grand’s summit at 13,770 feet. We’ll start climbing in the dark hours of the morning to ensure we are on the summit early!
Do I need to break in my boots for the backpacking section?
Absolutely! The most common medical injury we face in the backcountry is blisters. Though that may not seem like a big deal, blisters can turn a 6 mile hike into a nightmare if not properly attended. The best way to avoid blisters is to buy boots that fit you properly and to wear them often in order break them in. Leather boots can take 1-2 months to break in so start early! Once your trip begins, your leaders will show you how to care for your feet to avoid any unwanted blisters!
How many miles do we backpack in a given day?
During your time in the backcountry, you will find that the weather can change both frequently and quickly. Thus, your itineraries could vary, and your instructors may decide that it is safer to set up camp early rather than continue hiking. Your group will begin to read weather patterns and will start to make these kinds of decisions too, with your instructor’s help. Your group may also decide to stop early in order to take advantage of the great fishing in the Wind River Range. In any case, this may mean that some days you only hike a couple of miles, while on other days when the weather is ideal and your group feels strong, you knock out 7-8 miles.
What else do we do during our backpacking section?
You will be backpacking through the vast mountains of the Wind River Range that is home to mountain goats, marmot, deer, and moose, so keep your eyes pealed! You will fine-tune your map skills as you navigate through forests and mountain valleys, as well as be able to perfect your backcountry culinary talent at breakfast and dinner. There will be plenty of streams for fishing along the way and peaks just beckoning to be summited. Most of all, though, you will experience the simplicity of life that accompanies backpacking: carrying your belongings on your back and laughing harder than you will have in a long time.
What’s the weather like in Wyoming?
Throughout the summer, you can expect very warm, dry days with temperatures between 70 – 80°F. However, you may also encounter the occasional snow shower, even in July! Your clothing and equipment list will have everything you need to stay warm and dry, even when the weather surprises you.
Do we ever go into a town?
You begin your trip in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and during your prep days, you’ll be in or near a town so you can stock up on fresh vegetables, take a shower, and possibly do laundry if there is an opportunity. Every Moondance trip ends with a final banquet at a local restaurant. For The Grand, you’ll be able to taste what Jackson Hole has to offer!
What will I learn by the end of my trip?
By the end of your Moondance experience, you may learn how to cook a great meal, how to find your way using topographical maps and a compass, or how to belay a new friend who is climbing above you. Most of all, you’ll learn that life’s lessons are often camouflaged as a brilliant rainbow that follows a storm, a challenging mountain and a heavy pack, or strangers that become family at the end of 21 days. The self-confidence that one gains by exploring the unknown provides a constant foundation for life’s adventures down the road.