American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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North America, United States, Wyoming—Tetons, Traverse from Lower Saddle to Valhalla Canyon

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Traverse from Lower Saddle to Valhalla Canyon. Although not a route to the summit of any peak, this traverse is nevertheless of sufficient importance to be brought to the attention of those who have an interest in climbing any of the routes which either begin or end in Valhalla Canyon. In the past the customary method of climbing from Valhalla Canyon involved establishing a camp in the canyon, making the climb, and then returning at a later date to retrieve the camp, since the only entrance to the canyon was from Cascade Canyon. The need for a route from the Lower Saddle to Valhalla had long been clear to me, especially after 1953 when Mike Brewer and I climbed the west face of the Grand Teton. This route was worked out on July 25 by Leigh and Irene Ortenburger, after a careful study of photographs. From the Lower Saddle a large cairn built at that time should be visible on a flat step of the southwest ridge to the Enclosure. A diagonal route up through and across some gullies leads easily to this point, which is actually on the edge of the west face of the Enclosure. A slight descent is required for the easiest passage of the broad bench on the west face. Another cairn will be seen at the edge of the west and north faces, at the beginning of the crucial ledge which diagonals down and across the sheer north face of the Enclosure. The latter part of this ledge is unpleasant and rotten, requiring a rope for safety; the ledge ends at the lower ice and snow slope below the Upper Saddle. After cutting or cramponing across this, an easy downward traverse to the north puts one into the main couloir descending from the Gunsight Notch. The lower reaches of the Canyon are then easily obtained by descending this couloir. The significance of this traverse lies not only in making convenient the retrieval of camps in Valhalla, but also in making all of the Valhalla routes available from a camp on the Lower Saddle, since the total time for making the traverse is two to three hours.

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