June 3, 2008
By John Clegg
Exum Guide Rod Newcomb found snow conditions more akin to late winter than early summer during a recent trip to the Lower Saddle.
On June 1, Rod climbed to the Grand Teton’s Lower Saddle to assess conditions prior to setting up Exum’s Lower Saddle Hut. Rod found snow almost covering the hut storage boxes, which he estimated at just under four feet in depth near the boxes drifting to just under six feet at the southern end of the hut platform.
“These are conditions we haven’t seen in a number of years,” Rod said. “We may see clients using ice axes and crampons well into July if we don’t experience a significant warming cycle soon.”
The Jackson Hole Ski Resort, located just south of Grand Teton National Park, reported near record snowfall this past winter. Since the resort’s closing the Tetons have continued to receive weekly doses of new accumulation, with several more inches falling the evening after Rod’s trip.
“Clients should be prepared to take Snow School,” Rod said. In addition to two days of regular climbing school in preparation for an ascent of the Grand, Exum also offers Snow School to teach climbers safe travel in steep snow terrain, self arrest and self belay techniques. Exum is encouraging climbers to bring “gaiters,” which help keep snow out of boots, and crampon compatible water-proof boots for the climb up to the Lower Saddle. Exum has ice axes available for client rental and crampons for client use.
“Normally we don’t hit the snowline this time of year until near The Platforms. Yesterday we hit continuous, deep snow between the third and fourth switchback [about one mile before and several hundred feet lower than The Platforms].”
“The trail traversing into Garnet Canyon has lots of snow,” Rod continued. “It’s a good year for people who want to learn alpine mountaineering skills.”