Wyoming Rockies, 1940
Last season (1940) was an active one in the Tetons, with many new routes added to those of previous years. While this list is reasonably complete there may be omissions of new climbs not reported to the writer.
Probably among the most difficult climbs yet done in the Tetons was the W. face of the Grand Teton by Jack Durrance and Henry Coulter. Starting at the bottom of the couloir at the S. end of the Owen-Grand Teton-Three Sisters cirque they climbed toward the Upper Saddle, then straight up over very steep slabs and chimneys past the “crawl” on the Owen route to the summit. The climb took 16.5 hours and its difficulty can be partially appreciated by anyone who has gazed from the Upper Saddle down and across the W. face toward Mt. Owen.
Several interesting climbs were made from the seldom visited canyons S. of the Three Tetons. Paul Petzoldt and Elizabeth Cowles report a first ascent of the N. face of Buck Mt. They found the rock extremely sound and the route comparable in difficulty and interest with the E. ridge of the Grand Teton.
A partial new route up the W. ridge of Mt. Wister was made by the same party. A few days later they completed a new route up Veiled Peak via the W. couloir, descending on the W. ridge.
The Middle Teton had considerable attention from both the N. and the S. Durrance and Coulter climbed the S. ridge—across or over 12-15 towers. This is just to the S. of the couloir which is the ordinary route. A 40-ft. crack on the first tower was climbed artificially with pitons; above the climbing became less difficult to the summit.
The “Dike Pinnacle” of the Middle Teton was reached by Durrance, Margaret Smith, and Joseph Hawkes via the prominent basalt dike familiar to those who have been in Garnet Canyon. Threatening weather and a broken ice-axe prevented completing the route to the summit. Later Durrance, Coulter, Heidekooper and Weiner repeated the Dike climb, but were turned back, as before, by bad weather.
A partial new route led by Elizabeth Cowles with Paul Petzoldt was made on the N. face of the Middle Teton farther to the E. than the main route.
On the Grand still another new route was made via the S. W. ridge by Durrance, Coulter, and Fred Ayres. Starting at the end of the “Black Dike” 700 ft. below and to the W. of the Lower Saddle, the party climbed up over the “Enclosure,” completing the ascent via the Owen route. Four particularly noteworthy pitches were reported, among them an “impossible overhanging chimney,” alliteratively if contradictorily called “Ayres Ease.”
The N. face of Nez Perce was scaled by Durrance and Coulter after an earlier attempt with Fred Ayres had failed because of bad weather. The route runs from the constriction of the “Hourglass” direct to the summit, is exposed near the base, but becomes easier toward the top. The same team made the first descent of the E. ridge of Nez Perce complete. This involved climbing over the two “Teeth” visible from Jackson Plole below. The climb from the notch between the two teeth to the top of the lower tooth—about 200 ft.—is of exceptional difficulty, part of it overhanging and extremely exposed.
Farther to the N. a new route was made via the E. face and S. ridge of Teewinot by Petzoldt and Elizabeth Cowles. The climb was a long one, as the start was made at Delta Lake in Avalanche Canyon.
The same party, with the addition of Richard Cowles and Anthony Whittemore, made a first ascent of Minza Spire—one of the main towers of Mt. St. John.
Robert Bates and William House made an undistinguished but interesting partial new route on Mt. Owen, ascending from the Teton Glacier spirally in a clockwise direction.
In addition to new routes numerous ascents were completed of previously climbed, high calibre routes. Among these were the E., S. and N. ridges of the Grand Teton, and the N. ridge of Mt. Moran, the latter led by Elizabeth Cowles. It is significant that interest in routes other than the conventional ones has increased. While the Owen route on the Grand still remains the most popular more climbers, guided and guideless, chose the Exum route as offering more continuously interesting climbing. Perhaps mountain climbers are becoming more interested in how they get to a summit than in repeating only the best-known ones.
W. P. H.