Skip to main content
GDI Staff AdventuresProgram Highlights

Grand Adventure Team Summits the Grand Teton Amidst High Wind

By August 30, 2010One Comment

Grand Teton Summit - Grand Adventure 2010
Grand Adventure Team on the Summit of the Grand Teton

At 9:30 AM, on August 22, 2010 an inspired Grand Adventure team reached the summit of the Grand Teton!   The climb was the culmination of months of preparation and training by program participants. The TGA 2010 team was comprised of an eclectic group ranging from 23 to 63 years young hailing from across the US – from California to New York and in between. The team included such professions as a construction industry CFO, organizational development change management specialist, artist, youth leadership development specialist, an automotive industry leader and Puma store retail manager. Photo from Left: Bruce Tabler, Scottie McGee, Curtis Biggs, Sarah Little, Brian Caspersen, Reuben Gibson, David Gibson. BACK: Tim Walther and Gary Falk

The months preceding the climb were marked by weekly conference calls in areas of personal fitness, nutrition, psychology and rock climbing. GD President Tim Walther (that’s me :o) coordinated and interviewed experts including expert climbers and mountaineers (Christian Santelices, Gary Falk, Scotty McGee) about climbing the Grand Teton, training for the Grand Teton, and fear and challenge in mountaineering.  A series of training coaching calls was also provided by world ultra-endurance expert Stu Mittleman providing strategies for building endurance. Additional insights were provided by Gurucharan Singh Khalsa about spirituality and awareness in the mountains.

Day 1 – Welcome to Jackson Hole

The team arrived into Jackson Hole Wednesday afternoon and we gathered that day to share our Magic Statement (personal vision for a successful experience) and create our team values (environment and expectations for our time together). It was great to finally meet the team face to face and begin to strengthen our bond.  Our first team building experience involved shopping for dinner and jamming all our gear into the GD Tahoe and David’s pick-up truck.  Out to the climbers ranch we went for our opening dinner celebration.

Day 2 – Intro to Rock Climbing

Learning the Ropes

Our first on-rock climbing experiential learning day was led by my long time friend, Grand Dynamics facilitator and Exum Guide Gary Falk (far right in the photo).  Our day took place in Grand Teton National Park, on the slabs across Jenny Lake. the day included   getting to know your new approach shoes and sticky rubber, body balancing and how to use friction, knots, ropes, belay techniques and rappelling. We celebrated and shared our learning from the day at my favorite local Jackson hide-out, Teton Thai.

Day 3 – The next level

On Day 2 Gary was joined by Scottie McGee, lead Grand Dynamics facilitator and long time Exum guide.   We took the foundational skills from day one and put them into action while layering on more advance climbing techniques – hand jams, finger locks, stemming, smears, lie-back,  foot jams and of course, the chicken-wing.  We belayed each other up steep multi-pitch terrain while practicing rope management and the all-important hip belay.

Curtis Biggs Prepares to climb the Grand Teton

Throughout the Grand Adventure participants climb their own Mastery Mountains of Competence and Confidence.  A plethora of technical skills (competencies) are learned to successfully complete the climb. Similarly, each person climbs their own Confidence Mountain as positive beliefs and psychology improves.  Just before our steep overhanging rappel I taught the concept of psychological anchors to everyone, providing a key tool to”shift” focus and energy when faced with any difficult challenge. In essence – we put into practice all the competence and confidence skills needed to climb the Grand Teton together as a team, with each individual doing his or her part to keep each other safe and move efficiently through the mountains.That night we celebrated that night with a trip into town to another local favorite, the Rendezvous Bistro.

TGA 2010 Team at Lupine Meadows en route to climb the Grand Teton

Day 4 – The Approach to the Lower Saddle

Saddled up and ready to rock we headed up the 7 mile trail to the lower saddle of the Grand Teton.  Clearly all the training had paid off as the entire team cruised along without pause.

It was so great to see that everyone was fit and ready for the challenge ahead. We gained 5000 feet in elevation and enjoyed the beauty of Garnet Canyon along the way.

By 5:00 were basking in the beauty of the Lower Saddle at Sunset.

Father and Son share the sunset at the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton

Grand Teton from the Lower Saddle

Soon we were having our hot Asian soup concoction while taking in the looming alpine objective that lie ahead and packing our summit bags for the early AM climb.  I laid awake in the Hut that night in eager anticipation of the day to come.The wind howled and rain spattered the tent throughout the night.  I wondered about the condition of the mountain as I knew there was rain and high winds.  Would weather thwart all our preparation?

At 5 AM another Exum Guide, Kevin Mahoney, who happened to be one of my Alpine Guide Mentors and winner of the prestigious Golden Axe Award,  announced a delay in the start due to weather.  There was a storm that had come through that was anticipated to be moving off to the South.    B

ecause of the high winds the precipitation that had fallen was nearly all dry.

Brian Caspersen climbs the Briggs Slab on the Grand Teton

The Climb

We left the saddle in the dark at 5 AM and headed toward the upper saddle, crossing the black dike and Briggs Slab along the way.

Sunrise view from the Grand Teton

Step by step we climbed and scrambled up the south side of the Grand Teton, sharing words of support through the team and insights and precautions about the terrain.

As the sun came up there were bursts of lightening far off in the distance as the storm passed, creating an eerie feeling of respect for the mountains.

Our guides Gary Falk and Scotty McGee efficiently reminded the team about the climbing sequences and led us off into the void..

Scotty McGee leads the way on the Grand Teton

Sarah shows off her knot – ready to climb.

Finally we were here – roping at the Upper Saddle  up for the famous belly crawl on the Owen Spalding route.  All the months of preparation came into action as we blazed up the Grand Teton amidst chilly temperatures and significant wind.

Across the Belly Crawl and up the Owen Chimney we went putting all the skills and techniques into practice climbing the Grand Teton. The Belly Crawl on the route is a horizontal traverse across a ledge with over 2000 feet of exposure.  Looking down at that point certainly gets the blood pumping!

Below, Bruce Tabler climbs past the “crawl” on the Owen-Spalding route –  Grand Teton

Victory_Grand Teton Summit_Reuben Gibson

At 9:30 AM we crested the summit where we celebrated the thrill of victory! What an incredible journey it has been and what a pleasure to have shared it with such an eclectic, interesting positive group of people. Now THAT’s Grand Dynamics.

The Grand Adventure takes place each year with Grand Dynamics.  You too can climb the Grand Teton. You too gain gain amazing insights into your own health and wellness. You too can do anything you set your mind to! Contact us today about joining the Grand Adventure 2011 team. Program dates and detailes will be released late fall.

Leave a Reply