American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, The Fifth Column, Yodel This

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

The Fifth Column, Yodel This. In the summer of 1995, I noticed a beautiful wall just over the Garnet Canyon trail. That evening I consulted the pink bible, otherwise known as the Ortenburger/Jackson Climber’s Guide to the Tetons, and found that the face, known as the south face of the Fifth Column, had not been climbed. Steve Bechtel and I made the first foray, climbing a comer system to a large ledge as the first pitch. Later, Mike Fischer joined me in the effort, and the first pitch was moved out of the comer and onto a cleaner, safer, and aesthetically more pleasing face. A dog-legging crack was scaled as the second pitch, and after completing it we realized the route might be a real gem. The third pitch was first climbed on direct aid, using bashies, tied-off knife blades, and bolts for protection. I zippered onto a ledge on one of our outings, but wasn't hurt bad, and after a couple of efforts had reached a small stance and freed the pitch at 5.12d. The fourth pitch was climbed via one of the most rotten and dangerous chimneys I have ever seen. Knowing this would turn off any future ascents, we moved the pitch out onto the main face, and it was easily free climbed on big holds over steep rock at 5.10b. Pitch five could not avoid a Teton choss gully, and it was 5.4 at the hardest, but pitch six was worth putting up with it. The pitch goes up a corner system then moves out onto a clean face. The upper wall is run out and perhaps 5.1lb, though anyone who can handle pitch three will have no problem with this one.

We set this route with the hope that others like it will be established in the Tetons. Rather than pick the line of least resistance, we picked a line that would resist. The route is thus somewhat physically challenging as a rock climb. Also, the route was established to be a physical challenge, and not something where death constantly lurks in the back of your mind. Some of the pitches (though not the crux) utilize permanent protection that was placed on rappel. Our goal was to establish a fun but challenging free climb in the mountains, not to start an ethics debate that should have been over with long ago. Dubbed Yodel This in jest with the local climbing publication The Mountain Yodel, the route goes at .10c, .7,. 12d or 5.1lb A0, 5.10b, 5.4, 5.11b R. All anchors, save for pitch five’s, incorporate permanent protection and chains. The route was established by Sam Lightner, Jr. and Mike Fischer with help from Steve Bechtel, Shep Vail, and Susie Schenk, and was completed in the fall of ‘96.

Sam Lightner, Jr., unaffiliated

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