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Volunteer and Stay for Free: Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch Work Week

Posted on: April 13th, 2011 by Luke Bauer

Plan ahead! The Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch is seeking volunteers for its fourth annual Work Week, June 6-10, 2011.

What is Work Week?

Work Week is an opportunity for volunteers to prepare the Ranch for its opening–in exchange for free lodging during the month of June. Each year, skilled and unskilled volunteers donate their time to help with everything from routine maintenance (cleaning, testing smoke detectors, and fixing leaky toilets) to capital projects (building cabinets and staining cabins).

Chef Rob ‘Cookie’ Dowse, along with graduate-trained nutritionist Jen Montague, will feed you a gourmet lunch each day, along with a possible dinner or two when they find the time. While the kitchen is otherwise off limits to volunteers, coolers and ice will be provided free of charge. Additionally, all volunteers will have free access to laundry.

Of course, Work Week is also about rekindling old friendships and making new ones. Our regulars range in age from the early teens to the seventies—and we’ll be delighted to see that ceiling broken.

When is Work Week?

Work Week 2011 will be held from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, June 6 through 10.

Cabins will be open for arrival on Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5. Please do not arrive before June 4. We won’t be ready for you.  We may not have our water certification or fire extinguishers yet. And you’ll put difficulties on the extra-duty people who get the Ranch ready for Work Week volunteers.

What are the likely mountain conditions ?

The Tetons in June are still usually snow-covered starting from elevations of 9,000 feet. Hikes to places like Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, Paintbrush Canyon, and Garnet Canyonare are generally boot-packed. Snow climbs like the Spoon couloir on Disappointment and the SW couloir of Middle are often prime. Major routes like the Owen-Spaulding on the Grand may be icy, but others like Upper Exum may be dry. The Skillet Glacier on Moran is likely to be manageable if weather obliges. And other peaks offer climbs from the easy to the harrowing. Lower level bouldering and rock climbs like Baxter’s Pinnacle are often dry as well.

Interested in Volunteering?  Please let us know!

Please e-mail Ranch Manager Robert Montague if you’re interested in volunteering. Let us know your arrival date and how long you think you’ll stay. We’ll reserve the space and send you a confirmation email.

We started requiring advanced reservations last year, and it will be crucial again this year to maximize out efficiency and complete the many tasks on the docket.

This year’s tasks.

1. Repair winter damage: There are always a variety of items requiring repair after the ranch has been closed for six months of winter. It may be a long or short list; we won’t know until late May.
2.  Plumbing: Replace a leaky shower-head, snake the clogged shower drain; and perform the annual list of minor plumbing repairs.
3. Library: Wax hardwood floor.
4. Historic lodge/office, kitchen, and library building: Paint fascia boards.
5.  Manager and guest cabins:  Paint fascia boards; paint window, door, and screen frames–there are perhaps 100 window, door, and screen frames on the property. No exterior staining this year!
6. Electric: Electrical boxes in some cabins must be brought up to code by licensed electrical contractors. If you or a friend is a qualified Wyoming contractor, let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions about Work Week

Do I need specialized skills? Absolutely not! We invite any and everyone to help out. Of course, if you do have special skills, let us know during Work Week. Not only can we use the traditional trades – plumbers, carpenters, painters, electricians – but also bike mechanics, writers, computer network specialists, photo editors, and more.

Should I bring tools? You don’t need to. However, if it’s convenient, please do! We’re always short of drills and hammers and things. And if you have a specialized skill requiring specialized tools (like bike mechanics), please do consider bringing tools.

What about clothing? Your clothes will probably get trashed, so consider old clothing. Typically, it’s very cold in the morning, and then it warms up to t-shirt temperatures by mid-day. Consider bringing an old jacket or flannel shirt. And work gloves are handy, too!

Can I volunteer another time for free lodging? No. Thanks for the offer, but Work Week is our time to knock out all projects. After that, we must turn around and focus on running a lodging establishment, which doesn’t give us time to do these projects. Besides, if you don’t come during Work Week, you’ll miss out on the free lunches and wonderful fellowship!

For more information, take a look at GTCR Frequently Asked Questions on the AAC website.


Two years ago, GTCR’s pickup folk/country/bluegrass band The Chiselers brought down the house at Dornan’s weekly Monday night hootenany.  Bring your voice, your instruments, your finely applauding hands, and perhaps we can equal past history. Will John Prine remain as the lead inspiring spirit? Will Dylan’s revived touring move Teton musicians? Where is Joanie now that we need her?

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the beer flows…

Thank you to Friends of the Teton Climbers’ Ranch.

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