American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Teton, Squeeze Box to Junction with Hassack-MacGowan

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Grand Teton, Squeeze Box to junction with Hossack-MacGowan. On February 6,2007 Hans Johnstone and I climbed Squeeze Box (1,000', IV M7 A0), a new route [climbed to easy snow near the intersection with the Hossack-MacGowan Couloir—Ed.] on the north face of the Grand Teton. The line lies between Shea’s Chute and the Alex Lowe Memorial Route and ascends a weakness up a beautiful granite buttress. I spotted the line during a flurry of activity with various partners in October 2004, which gave us the best ice conditions in the Tetons in years. Brian Harder and I attempted the line on January 28, 2007, climbing about halfway up while excavating considerable snow from the cracks, before retreating due to approaching darkness. With clear weather and high pressure continuing, I was excited to make another attempt.

Hans and I began skiing from the Taggart-Bradley trailhead at 4 a.m. and began the more technical climbing up and onto the north face five hours later. The climbing was challenging and interesting, with technical difficulties up to M7 (5.10 rock equivalent). A challenging squeeze chimney, too narrow to climb facing in, offered little in the way of climbable ice and had me grunting and thrashing. Above was a beautiful ice gully, which brought us to the black chimney. For the next two rope lengths we climbed steep rock with axes and crampons. The second-to-last pitch involved a tension traverse across smooth slabs to reach another set of bottomed-out seams with minuscule and insecure features. In spots protection was difficult, but the route unfolded nicely, as we were treated to alpenglow on Teewinot. With great desire to complete the route, I darted up the last pitch by headlamp. Given the insecure nature of the climbing, success was never guaranteed. We rappelled the route and downclimbed across the Teton Glacier to our skis.

After switching boots and packing up, we made sweet turns on good snow down the glacier. Lower, the descent became a nightmare when we started breaking through the crust into soft and unconsolidated snow, often resulting in face-plants followed by my pack smacking the back of my head. After one of these episodes at the bottom of Glacier Gulch, while excavating myself I was excited to discover wolf tracks.

With mixed climbing techniques and skills increasing, there are countless opportunities for other new routes on the north face of the Grand Teton and throughout the range.

Stephen Koch

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