Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Start of a Grand Adventure - Day One

"I'm going to climb the Grand!" I practically screamed into the phone. "Iowa" was not as happy that I was going to be gone but she was happy that I was finally happy. It had not been a sure thing. "Busterman" was good with his time away from home but I was worried things would fall apart with people covering for me at my jobs. The time of departure was getting closer and things came together and fell apart with each setting sun. The plan was to leave Thursday night after I got done work and to come back Wednesday night or Thursday morning. A full week of climbing in Grand Teton National Park! Unfortunately, the person planning to cover my shift had a problem with his internship and the night before I was going to leave I was still unsure if he would show up for me or not. I stopped calling people. I didn't want to know whether things went to hell in a handbasket after I left. I wanted to go climbing.

By Wednesday night all my gear was packed. I put myself in charge of food and as I lifted that bag I lamented my need of tasty food and snacks. The food alone felt like twenty pounds and I hadn't even added in my personal camping and climbing gear. Thursday afternoon saw my seventy liter pack full to the brim and me tottering underneath it. The gear explosion was now finally cleaned up from the spare bedroom. We both decided to pack for early winter conditions since the Tetons had experienced what sounded like a pretty large snowstorm just a few weeks before our arrival. It is Thursday just before ten 'o' clock and I'm rushing through work. Deposit is done, e-mails are done, phone messages forwarded, floor cleaned, ropes tied up, and finally I walked out the door with minutes to spare before the clock struck ten. I called "Busterman" to let him know I was on my way. He wasn't quite finished packing but he had a little more than an hour before I met him in Loveland. I wanted to get the driving done with. "Busterman" was content to wake up early in the morning. When I arrived he was still packing. While I thumbed through the guidebook we decided to stay the night and leave in the morning.

I tossed and turned in the foreign bed, too excited to fall asleep. Our main goal was to summit the Grand Teton via the Exum Ridge (5.7 IV). We were going to simul-climb from top to bottom. When I'd first called "Busterman" I had illusions of doing the Grand Traverse (5.8 V) in a day; my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. After both agreeing on the Exum we decided we didn't care what else we did. Our main concern was weather since it was late in the season and the Tetons had already received some snow. My own main concern was my knee. I hadn't gone to a doctor because I didn't feel like paying a specialist hundreds of dollars to tell me what I already knew: It had to be a meniscus tear. The dull pain on the outside of my knee increased in intensity whenever I went to kneel or step up. The dull ache that would go away if only I would stop pushing so hard. That's what I get for trying to set speed records in the dark. If two hours car-to-car up Otto's Route on Independence Monument isn't a speed record then I don't need to know. Ignorance is bliss.

I lay there for hours with so many thoughts running through my head. What if it was too cold? Could my legs handle all that vertical? Who'd lead the crux pitches? How much gear should I place? Where would we stay? Would we be able to get a backcountry permit? Eventually the thoughts died down and I drifted into restless sleep with thoughts of climbing occasionally awaking me. We had made a small amount of progress on our Grand adventure.

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