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ON ROCK: Climbing with the birds
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – It’s already feeling like autumn to me. Some things are like clockwork, and the end of August is when the climbing season begins to change. The weather is getting cooler. The clouds and sunsets are more prominent. The leaves are turning yellow. The clincher for me is the elk bugling in the early morning as the sun rises.
I am not sure if it’s my current emotional status, but I am so ready for changes. Every year is certainly different, but this past year has been a rollercoaster. What better way to clear the head than to get all huffy and puffy and sweaty by trying to keep up with my friend as we grunt up Hanging Canyon in Grand Teton National Park toward Peregrine Arête (II,5.7) on the southeast side of Mount St. John (11,430 feet). Opting to take the boat across Jenny Lake, we darted around the lake to the trailhead (look for the big tree on your left with the secret trail), and up to Arrowhead Lake, then bushwhacked up and across to the north onto the grassy talus bench to the base of the “bird” arêtes (Peregrine, Ostrich, and Avocet).
Peregrine is the right-handed (eastern) of the three, and has several pitch variations. We didn’t care which route we took. I won rock-paper-scissors, and took the first lead, choosing the easy fifth-class ramp, instead of the 5.10 roof variation. Two more pitches of 5.5 to 5.7 got us to the last pitch of fifth-class scrambling. The descent is a short downclimb to some tedious hiking into the gully next to the arête and back to Arrowhead Lake.
For gear: Helmets/harness, 60-meter rope, moderate trad rack with long slings, foul weather gear, and stuff. For beta: “A Climber’s Guide to The Teton Range” by Ortenburger and Jackson. Rock On!