You’ll begin by meeting your instructors and course mates upon arrival in Jackson Hole, WY. Once together we’ll begin getting to know the landscape, as our drive takes us to a spectacular base camp in the Wind River Range, just south of Jackson.
We’ll plunge right in as we discover the same things that Lewis and Clark did on their expedition. We’ll spend the day bouncing and splashing down an invigorating 8 miles of the Snake River in paddle rafts. This thrilling river will be the subject of laughs and inspiration as our group continues to adhere. Paddling big water through a dramatic gorge, we’ll face an array of rapids whose names–like Lunch Counter and Big Kahuna–will surely figure prominently in the tales we’ll take to the trail. The next day is a busy one; We will fly fish by day and in the afternoon we will prepare for our journey into the Winds, we will learn to pack our backpacks, organize our group gear, package and divide food, and become acquainted with the maps.
Your backcountry adventure starts with a day of Fly fishing lessons from a local Wyoming guide. You will learn the basics or brush up on your already known skill. You will master essentials like knot and fly tying, casting (overhead and roll), trout hatching schedule, and fly placement. Take these new learned skills into the wilderness to put in use the next few days. Straddling the Continental Divide and ruggedly sculpted by extensive glaciations, the Wind River Range offers Wyoming’s highest and most remote peaks to the intrepid explorer. We’ll start with an extended backpacking expedition deep into the range’s backcountry, climbing through fragrant fir forests up to sunny alpine meadows and gleaming snowfields. Depending on conditions, you can practice your skills at fly-fishing in sparkling alpine lakes or scramble up a peak for an unforgettable panoramic view. For the first couple of days, we’ll cover relatively short distances as we get used to our gear and begin developing some basic skills such as minimum impact camping, backcountry cooking, and wilderness navigation. By the end of this eight-day section, moreover, we will have mastered even the finer points of wilderness travel in preparation for the more technical mountaineering challenges to come.
A three-day instructional course with Exum Mountain Guides will not only introduce us to the fundamentals of rock climbing and mountaineering but also whet our appetites for our summit attempt up the Grand. Starting on moderate terrain, we’ll work on movement and balance on the rock and learn the proper use of ropes and climbing gear for belaying, protection, and rappelling. Once these basic skills are mastered, we’ll hone our climbing technique and learn about anchored belays on multi-pitched routes, culminating in an ascent of a classic spire such as Cube Point or Baxter’s Pinnacle. With this extensive training under your belt, you’ll be well prepared for the serious mountaineering objective to come.
We’ll take a well-deserved rest day to gather our strength and organize for the summit attempt. We may take the opportunity to explore the historic town of Jackson or just relax on the shore of Jenny Lake, throw a Frisbee, or do a little more fly-fishing.
Seen from the valley floor of Jackson Hole, the Grand Teton’s summit is an improbable fang of solid granite rising high above an already imposing range. At this point in our adventure together, we will have developed the technical skills for a successful climb. Moreover, as a group we will have become an efficient and supportive team. After days on days of marveling at this soaring massif from below, we will be eager and ready for this chance to meet the mountain up close as we begin the two-day climb. On the first day, we’ll hike up dramatic Garnet Canyon for a night in the Exum Hut at the Lower Saddle (11,620 feet). Next, a pre-dawn start puts us in position to greet the sunrise high up on the mountain, en route to the summit via the Exum Ridge. Conditions permitting, we’ll reach the summit by midmorning, then rappel and down-climb back to the Exum Hut for lunch. By early evening, we’ll return to the valley floor and soon find our sleeping bags for a good night’s rest!
But the fun will be bittersweet; over the course of three weeks we will have grown quite attached to this landscape and to each other, and none of us will be looking forward to parting. Back in Jackson Hole, we’ll have the chance to wash our clothes, clean group gear, and take hot showers. We’ll get our personal bags packed and reminisce about the adventure we’ve shared! We will celebrate our final night together at a banquet dinner in Jackson Hole.