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North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Mt. Moran, South Buttress Prow to Top of Buttress

Mt. Moran, South Buttress Prow to top of buttress. On a cool, crisp autumn day in September, Hans Johnstone, Greg Collins, and I paddled across Leigh Lake in the dawn’s early light. We hiked from the outlet of Leigh Canyon to the base of Mt. Moran’s towering South Buttress and did the standard entrance pitch onto the higher of the two large ramps at the base of the South Buttress. We scrambled and soloed up the ramp to its western edge and its junction with the South Buttress route. Once here we roped up again and ran the belay to the large east-facing dihedral on the prow of the buttress. Greg led a long 5.10 pitch high into this dihedral. Hans then led a short, cryptic traverse and run-out face pitch that established us below the overhanging crack in the dihedral’s left wall. This pitch fell to me. Amazingly, the pitch went free and with little cleaning, though I fell at the crux, an overhanging, lichenous, rattly finger lock. Once it was a bit cleaner, and with sausages for fingers, Greg free-climbed the pitch following it. One of the best crack pitches in the Tetons, it seemed in the 5.12b range. It overhangs perhaps 20' to 30' in its 100'. A short pitch, with a traverse left, finished our time in the dihedral and put us in position for a 5.11- finish that exits at the apex of the prow, and joins the exit to the South Buttress Direct. From here it is possible to escape east to a series of rappels that lead to the base of the buttress, or continue up 2,500' of easy 5th class to the summit. All of us, having done the shin-splinting slab-paddle to the summit, opted for the rappels. We have left to a future party the integral ascent of the line to the summit.

Bean Bowers, AAC