Tetons….Yeah….LET’S CLIMB IN THE TETONS!!
Oh wait…It’s Labor Day weekend and it’s going to be gorged with humans in every crack and summit.
Off to Wind River instead!!!
I woke up at my in-laws, who live in Evanston Wyoming, as my extremely loud alarm sounded at 5:30a. I had to shake my wife to life and persuade her it was time to hit the road. As I head downstairs two of my buddies @markallennolan (Mark Nolan) and @devincorbett (Devin Corbett) were both sleeping on couches too small for them as they arrived late into the night.
We had three cars as we would be leaving at different times from our adventure and had an immense amount of gear for our upcoming adventure. We would drive to Pinedale to meet up with @michael_rowe (Michael Rowe aka #dirtyjobs) and @spiritualundead (Joel Kuenning) for a quick breakfast before heading down miles of dirt road into the Wyoming Wilderness.
As we drove deeper into the wild with our now four vehicles I thought to myself “Man, it’s going to be pure SECLUSION back here! I was stoked to just get away from the everyday and get my climb on.
I was wrong.
We pull up to the trailhead and it’s like a Walmart on Black Friday. But, but, but……We are supposed to be secluded. Maybe pass a lonesome hiker or two…..
Instead it was a trail full of happiness. What does that even mean!?!?!?!?!
Well first the scenery for the full 8.5 mile hike back was epic. Looking at my camera now, I had shot over 1,000 photos…. Sure I shot the same shot eight times but I just couldn’t get enough. I told our group of six to just keep walking and I will catch up as I didn’t want to miss one epic shot.
Also everyone we passed whether they were heading the same direction or heading out were so happy and friendly and stoked to get their adventure on.
As we passed through the flatness and lakes we approached where we would get some more elevation gain which turned into some scrambling across boulders and hiking up some steep hillsides.
And then BAM we crossed the final summit to see where we would be camping……
I’m pretty sure we just stood there with our jaws wide open in awe of what mother earth was showcasing. Granite peak after granite peak of towering rock surrounded us almost in a full circle.
We eventually found a flat spot for our @BigAgnes tents and set up camp knowing that we would be staying in a billion star hotel that night with penthouse views.
The next day we would be planning on climbing some epic peaks but the weather had something else to say as the low cloud coverage didn’t start to clear up until around 2pm.
Mark and Joel headed out for a little hike as I ate lunch and then as they were heading back #dirtyjobs and myself started to go explore. We ended up seeing and meeting back up with those two and decided that it was too late to go for anything too technical so we headed towards the summit of Overhanging Tower that stands at 12,169ft.
As the four of us gained elevation @dralydanger stayed in the tent as she was suffering from an altitude migraine.
Near the beginning of the trek it was raining a little but began to open up and we were suddenly surrounded with huge granite walls and blue skies. It was perfect weather for this class 4-5 climb. Trails turned into boulder scrambling, and then we were going up scree and loose rock.
Some rock small. Some rock very very big.
We almost hit the saddle before the summit approach and heard what we thought were planes passing by but we learned quickly it was rolling thunder.
As we approached the saddle it hit. The clouds blew in like they were racing for the checkered flag at the Daytona 500. The thunder got louder and I got the familiar feeling I had when I climbed in a lightning cloud on Mt. Sherman in Colorado.
My head started to buzz.
THEN BOOM!!! HUGE LIGHTNING STRIKE!
“EVERYONE DOWN NOW!” I yelled as #dirtyjobs rushed off of a rock that stood about eight feet above the saddle.
Instantly Snow starts pouring down and the winds are loud and flying by and through us. Chills run through your body knowing that you might be the closest group of electrons to this storm.
BOOM!!! Another lightning strike it’s and all you see is a flash of light. We are in the death zone of this mountain and need shelter. Joel is already below under a rock as Mark and #dirtyjobs head down. I stay “like an idiot” to get a photo and a short video.
Hey if i’m going to die there will be an epic video of it! (CLICK TO WATCH)
I pack my camera after the shot and head down a class 4 move that is now a class 5 because the snow has turned to ice and the rock is extremely hard to grasp. Oh yeah i’m in tennis shoes because I thought when I left camp I was just going for a little stroll.
BOOM! BOOM!! Lightning is slamming the rock all around us but we are all somewhat safe hiding under a small-like overhang.
We would wait here and let the storm pass hoping we weren’t its next target.
About 20 mins passed and it started to look clear but because of the snow, ice, and wet granite I passed on pursuing the summit as I didn’t have the right shoes.
The other three would head up and eventually I would be standing at the lake below hearing the howls of the dudes signaling their summit bid was complete.
I headed back to camp and was exhausted as the rain started to pour as soon as the other three made it back. We got in our tents and waited, and waited, and waited but it just didn’t stop so we fell asleep.
Throughout the night I just heard what I thought was rain pelting the tent. The orange of the tent would burst with color in the middle of the darkness as lightning exploded throughout the night in the surrounding peaks.
I learned differently when I unzipped the tent to what looked like winter. Snow was covering everything.
It was cold and wet and snowy but we packed up the tent and our gear and headed out taking each step with care as the boulders were icy and wet. Crossing the hill sides, back over the giant boulders and rock field and past the epic lakes and fields of gold.
The lower we dropped the less snow cover and the sun popped its head out melting what snow was left. We were all smiles talking about the beauty of Wyoming and the epicness of getting stuck in a lightning storm at nearly 12k feet with almost zero protection.
We made new friends, saw more of this beautiful earth, and survived another adventure. It’s hard to call it labor when you love it.