Learn rock climbing in Wyoming's majestic Tetons -- no experience required
Rock climbing in Wyoming's Tetons: Frequently-Asked Questions about The Grand
No one who has stood atop The Grand Teton, known as the American Matterhorn, can ever forget the experience. No climbing experience is necessary for this trip: We start with climbing and safety instruction, followed by a 2-day ascent.
This FAQ page is intended to accompany other pages about this trip and about our company (see links at left). Some of the answers below may include links to other other sites; please use the BACK key of your browser to return to this page.
Have you've ever gazed at a distant mountain peak, and wondered what it would be like to climbing that mountain? Watched someone inch up a granite cliff, and wanted to be up there? Our introductory rock climbing trip, The Grand, gives you an opportunity to do just that, after receiving expert mountain climbing instruction from some of the country's best climbers. Moreover, you'll be with a fun, supportive gay and lesbian group.
How do I get to Jackson, and then to the condos?
A cab from the Jackson airport can often be $50 with tip. Often you'll be able to share with others arriving at about the same time. Our pre-trip newsletter facilitates such matches.
Many travelers, however, find it less expensive to fly into another nearby airport, rent a car, and drive to Jackson. Idaho Falls, Idaho is about a 2-hour drive; Salt Lake City about 5 hours. In both cases, the drive to Jackson Hole is scenic and varied, and will be part of your adventure. Bus service from these two cities to Jackson is available from Jackson Hole Express ( 800-652-9510; in WY: 307-733-1719).
Where do we stay?
This is called a 7-day trip. Exactly what does that mean?
Our "7-day" trip thus consists of 6 full days and two partial days. Some companies promote a trip of this length as being 8 days since it includes pieces of 8 different days. We feel it's more accurate to refer to this as 7 days.
What's the difference between Jackson and Jackson Hole?
Jackson Hole is the geographic name for this entire valley, nestled between the Teton range to the west, Gros Ventre mountains to the east, and Snow King to the south. ("Hole" was a term used by settlers for a low area surrounded by mountains.) Jackson Hole is also the name used for the ski resort at Teton Village, just outside Jackson.
How hard is this trip?
Do I need rock climbing experience?
I'm traveling alone. Will everyone else be in couples?
What are the meals like?
On climbing and instruction days, lunch will be a sandwich, fruit, dessert, and soft drink.
Four dinners are included: They are hearty, and varied. A buffet or restaurant dinner follows our opening night reception; we have a high-carbo pasta dinner the evening before the climb, and on the last night, we'll dine in one of the area's top restaurants. Vegetarians are always provided for as part of our planning, not as an afterthought. As for your night on the mountain -- well, let's just say that while you shouldn't climb the Grand for the food, you'll eat much better than most climbers do!
If my instructor doesn't think I should do The Grand, then what?
Who are the guides and instructors?
Knots: A good knot stays tied when you want it to be tied, and easily comes untied when you're done with it. There are just a few knots you need to learn, and they'll quickly become second nature.
Belaying: Whenever you're climbing on rocks so steep that a fall could injure you, you'll have a rope connecting you to someone higher up, known as your belayer. Your belayer takes up the slack through a device that locks onto the rope if you slip, thus preventing a fall. You'll learn how to belay your partner, and how to signal to your belayer when you're climbing.
Climbing: You'll learn to use cracks and small ledges in the rock to ascend a cliff that just hours ago would have looked impossible to climb. You might think you need a horizontal ledge to stand on, for example; but a move known as a layback allows you to move up on surfaces that are completely vertical.
What's the actual climb like?
We'll spend the night in a tent at about 11,500 feet of altitude. An early start the next morning gives us a dramatic sight, as the entire Teton range casts a shadow across the Idaho, to the west. Today's progress will sometimes be slower, as we rope together and put to use the technical climbing skills we've been learning.
And then, after five or six hours of steady progress, we reach the summit. "It was the most exhilarating moment of my life," said one climber, gazing down at the peaks of nearby mountains.
What's the likelihood that I will or won't make it to the top of The Grand?
Of the others: The first year, one developed altitude sickness during the ascent, and had to turn back. Roughly 1 person in 20 or 30 has this problem. Since that first year, we've added 2 more days in the middle of the trip. Those days help everyone acclimatize, and decrease the likelihood of altitude sickness.
Several people have hiked with us to the saddle, half-way up, then stayed there while we ascended to the peak, and joined us on our way down.
You should also understand that adverse weather can prevent us from climbing The Grand. The odds are well in our favor -- as of our fifth Grand trip in 2001, it had never yet happened -- but it's a possibility.
Can I talk to someone who's been on this trip?
Our website includes a full page of comments from past travelers. Most of them have volunteered to talk about their experiences with future potential travelers. Please call for the names and phone numbers of references in your area.
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