After "some classic alpine trickery" Anton Krupicka and Jason Dorais complete the Cathedral Traverse.
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When La Sportiva mountain athletes Anton Krupicka and Jason Dorais found themselves in the Tetons at the same time, the two teamed up to take on the Cathedral Traverse. Essentially the first half of the full Grand Traverse- one of the most touted alpine circuits in the country- over the course of 15 miles their route encompassed a triple summit of Mt. Teewinot, Mt. Owen and the Grand Teton itself. Watch the raw video recap from the day, which presented the duo with challenging route-finding along with stunning alpine views, and read a trip recap as told by Anton and Jason.
•Mt Teewinot (12,326′)
•Mt Owen (12,927′)
•The Grand Teton (13,776′)
•Distance: 14.9 miles
•Elevation: 14,815 feet
•Elapsed Time: 11:09:37
Anton: "The cruxes of this traverse are actually on the sub-promontories and clefts between the three major peaks themselves.The first significant technical obstacle is the western step down from Peak 11,840. This is almost always rappelled, but if trying to complete the route without a rope, can apparently be down climbed in a loose chimney to the northwest. Unfortunately, Jason Dorais and I were unable to locate this down climb and resorted to a combination of down climbing and sketchy rappelling on our too-short 30m rope (*not recommended*). The next significant crux is the steep snow descent to the top of the Koven Couloir between the East Prong and Mt Owen. This year was a particularly high snow year, so we were both very happy to have footwear traction (aluminum crampons for Jason, Microspikes for me) and a lightweight ax to facilitate a safe and efficient descent down this section of steep, firm snow. Finally, despite looking so intimidating, the steepest climbing of the day is actually the vertical pitch climbing out of the Gunsight, not the Italian Cracks on the north ridge of the actual Grand."
Jason: "I think the overall crux of the route is just the route finding. Nothing is too complicated but it takes a decent sense of the mountains and the willingness to scramble above some exposure looking for the path of least resistance. As Tony mentioned, we got a little mixed up trying to find a down climb off of Peak 11,840. If you get too far off-route the terrain becomes quite technical in a hurry. I think the on-route technical crux is a steep pitch coming out of Gunsight Notch. The sketchy crux is down-climbing steep/firm snow off of East Prong. If you pitch off the snow you're going for a long unpleasant ride."
Anton: "Altogether, this half-Grand Traverse is far more complex terrain (i.e., difficult route-finding and a tedious mix of snow and rock) than the second half of the full traverse to Nez Perce, but also offers a more striking beauty and true sense of remoteness. The Gunsight Notch in particular feels very far away from anything, with steep technical walls and glaciers providing barrier to entry on all sides. It was a pleasure getting to know the route with Jason and for sure one of the highlights of my summer!”
Jason: "My favorite part of the route is the Grandstand. It's really a special place where you're on a narrow shoulder up high and deep in the heart of the Tetons. You have great views of the upcoming North Ridge of the Grand and also a unique perspective of Mt Owen. If it weren't so hard to get to I'm sure it would be the most sought after campsite around. I don't think there really is a part that's not fun. If you phrase it as "least fun" then I'd say the last 3 miles out to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead. It's still kind of fun though because you know there's a cooler full of cold food and drinks waiting!"
For a full in-depth beta review read Anton's blog recap- Tetons: Cathedral Traverse with Jason 8/4/2017
Distance, time and elevation data provided by STRAVA