Grand Teton Climbers’ Week 2009
“Aw sheet, I ain’t been on a bicycle for damn near 20 years. I don’t remember it being this much fun!”—Morris (pronounced Morse) AAC member from Atlanta and multi-time attendee of Grand Teton Climbers’ Week.
This was just one of the vivid quotes from this year’s Grand Teton Climbers’ Week. The weather wasn’t perfect. It rained everyday, BUT, not ALL day. Climbing, albeit sport climbing, was the name of the game for most who got out on the rock. One particular memorable day involved a set of 15 year old triplets, Morris, a twenty-something former competitive female sled dog musher turned Exum guide from South Dakota (or was it Nebraska?), myself, a 30 meter hank of rope, 12 quickdraws, one Gri-Gri, some Budweisers*, six bicycles and an only teensy bit concerned father in a mini van/sag wagon.
Our mission was to take advantage of the Ranch’s recently implemented reclaimed bike fleet and pedal to the crag. Scary black clouds threatened to the north, but we mounted our chosen vehicles anyway and raced down the bike path toward Blacktail Butte. We arrived exhilarated, giggling like schoolgirls (okay, so two of us really were schoolgirls) and hurried up to the wall. Shortly after the first toprope was installed, we were joined by The Dad, Scott “I promise to be your belay slave if you give me the recipe for your Peanut Noodles”, and Phil Powers’ Posse (his sassy wife Sarah, a family friend and said family friend’s crying kid).
Inevitably, because nearly every generation was represented, discussions (ahem, heated debates, name calling, etc.) on the proper way to do things ensued.
“No, I’d rather not have my belayer tied to that tree;” “That’s why it’s called a belay loop, because that is what you are supposed to use while belaying;” “No, you don’t have to rappel from the anchor, I can lower you;” “You aren’t going to need that knife or prussic,” and of course, my all-time favorite, “Sport climbing is neither.” Ha ha.
We all agreed to disagree (I wasn’t going to argue too much with the father of the three, my boss or the swaggering Morris and his endearing southern drawl). Besides, none of it really mattered anyway. Everyone there that day, with the exception of the crying kid (although he did stop crying) tied in, climbed to a two quick draw anchor, and laughed a whole hell of a lot. Oh, and no one got dropped or hit by the falling choss.
It is climbing days like this that I remember most and hold dearest. It was just all so absurd: the multifarious climbers, arriving by bike, sport climbing in the Tetons.
I know many AAC members deem the benefits of membership the insurance, journal, library or museum. But for me, it is absolutely the experiences I’m afforded at events like this that are most cherished.
*Relax, no one (under age) was drinking (while belaying) at the crag.
Photo by Dana Richardson