American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Traverse, Speed

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Grand Traverse, Speed. During the summer of 2000, after finding out that arthritis had settled into my hips for good, I suffered a counter-reaction that drove me to run everywhere I could think of and destroy more cartilage as a way to avenge the pain and immobility of the years to come. A very dry summer provided conditions not often seen in the Tetons, with most snowfields reduced to what looked like melting ice-cream scoops. It was an ideal year for the Grand Traverse (a link-up of the peaks Teewinot, Owen, Grand, Middle, South, Ice Cream Cone, Gilkey Tower, Spalding Peak, Cloudveil Dome, and Nez Perce), which was done at least five times. Dave Anderson, Jimmy Chin, Stephen Koch, Kim Csizmazia, Bruce Miller, Alan Lester, and I all benefited from these unusually good conditions. During a two-week period in mid-August, I completed the traverse on three occasions, two alone. (One of the occasions was with Kim Csizmazia, the first woman to complete the traverse.-Ed.) Much of the motivation, drive, and inspiration came from the late Alex Lowe, who many years before had had the vision and fantasy to complete this traverse as a short day out. It was with him in mind and utilizing a similar style that I started up Teewinot the first time. To his short list of equipment, which consisted solely of a windbreaker tied around the waist, I added a one-quart water bottle. One gets to see much country on a day like that, much beautiful country in this case: summits and abysses, those of nature and those of the soul.

On my third time completing the traverse, I decided to focus on the latter. For a little less than seven hours I searched within myself for everything that there was and made sure it all got out, balancing speed with enough caution to avoid a tumble. The peace and quiet that followed seemed largely worth the risk. It was that calm that I sought, one that unfortunately vanishes fast, but very rich and textured while it lasts.

Rolando Garibotti, Club Andino Bariloche

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