The 1931 Mountaineering Season in Grand Teton National Park
The popularity of the Tetons has reached a point where it is something of a problem to keep tab of all the ascents made each season, but through the zeal of the national park rangers stationed at the Jenny Lake Station (the starting point for most expeditions) a climbing record was kept for the summer of 1931 which is believed to be complete.1 According to the 1931 Log Book kept by the ranger staff, the season opened on June 22nd with a traverse of Teewinot and closed on October 4th with an ascent of the Grand Teton. Both of these dates are late as compared with previous years. In the log may be found entries relating to fifty-seven successful ascents—a remarkable record in view of the fact that it is necessary to go back into the history of the Tetons only ten years to find a season when throughout the entire range not a single ascent was made.
Climbing conditions were excellent. The light snowfall of the preceding winter was followed by a summer of unprecedented drouth and heat, and men who have lived in the Jackson Hole country for nearly forty years state that they have never seen the snow in the Tetons reduced to such an extent as in the summer just past.
All of the major peaks having been conquered, the emphasis of climbers in 1931 turned to traverses and the accomplishment of new routes. Efforts in these fields were eminently successful, and from the fact that eighteen new routes were worked out on major peaks alone one may infer that much original climbing of a high order took place. As in previous years the Grand Teton was the center of interest, the more so since for the first time authorized guide service was available ; but a significant feature of the season is to be found in the wide distribution of the climbs, every major peak but one (Mt. Woodring) being scaled at least once in the course of the summer. As in other recent years, solitary climbing was in vogue, and it is interesting to note that now—at the close of 1931—all of the major peaks have been scaled by solo climbers. The minor peaks came in for some attention, four being climbed for the first time. A noteworthy feature of the 1931 season was the unusually large proportion of foreigners among the climbers. Their visit to the region may be taken as indicative of the interest in the Tetons which is developing abroad.
A report on the nomenclature of the Grand Teton National Park, prepared by the writer in 1930 and subsequently, with slight modification, approved by the National Park Service, was adopted by the United States Geographic Board on June 3rd, 1931.2 As a result of this decision, over sixty place names—the majority of them new—were given official status.
A project begun in 1929 by Ranger Phil Smith and the writer, calling for the placement of standard bronze register tubes and register books on the Teton peaks, was completed on August 18th when the last of the sixteen available tubes was placed on the summit of Mt. Owen. All of the major peaks are now so equipped, as well as several of the more accessible lesser ones. The tubes are of the type used in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado ; the register books are of a new loose-leaf type which has thus far proven very satisfactory. As the permanent registers were placed on the summits, the mountaineering records to date were entered in them and all original records were brought down to the office of the park superintendent for safe keeping, and the original containers from which they were taken, a motley assortment of tins and bottles, were placed on display in the park museum.
A review of the season’s climbs, peak by peak beginning at the south end of the range, follows :3
1 I am indebted to Ranger Phil Smith for a record of the ascents made subsequent to August 20. Credit is particularly due to Smith for the accurate check that was kept of 1931 ascents. F. M. F.
2 “Decisions of the United States Geographic Board, No. 8, Decisions Rendered June 3, 1931,” Washington, 1931. Five pages.
3 For more detailed description of the new routes of 1931 sec articles in Appalachia for December, 1931, and June, 1932.