American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Grand Teton, southwest face, Bean’s Wall of Shining Storms

Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Greg Collins, AAC
  • Climb Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

In good weather, the southwest face of the Grand Teton shines in the last rays of evening light. In bad weather, the fetch that allows this nice light also allows storms to crash into the exposed and overhanging walls. The Tetons’ best rock is here, at the top of the range. Between the past efforts of Pownall-Gilkey and Beyer-Hartman lies a beautiful path with steep, clean rock, good protection, and classic ambience.

I started this route many years ago. Ryan Hokanson and I were chased down from the overhanging second pitch by a furious summer storm. Then, the late Bean Bowers and I found a way around this pitch and made it to the steep fourth-pitch corner, where a similar storm attacked us. As if we were strapped to the mast in a hurricane, we waited it out. When storm had just passed—the hail and graupel melted, the rock dried—another one struck us. Now in stormy darkness, Bean and I bounced down the very overhanging wall beneath us on a single rope. For years it was difficult to find climbers willing to hike 2,000m to approach this new high-mountain route, which is only warm enough to climbin the afternoon. In summer 2011, Dan Corn and I climbedthe fourth pitch, but time and work forced us to traverse off and back down to the valley.

Hans Johnstone and I have been new-routing for years; some of our routes are memorials to fallen friends, and some of these new routes were made with Bean. The route to this point had been excellent, and we knew the ground above would be even better. We made finishing the route a priority. The summer of 2012 was virtually storm-free, so in two days we beaked upward to equip the fifth and sixth pitches with the necessary bolts and pins. And, finally, on July 26, we redpointed the whole route with no falls, in one day from the valley, creating our best and most rewarding new route yet: Bean’s Shining Wall of Storms (7 pitches, V 5.12-).

Greg Collins, AAC

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