Ascent to Cascade Canyon on 1992-09-07

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Jim Kantzler (Guide)
Date:Monday, September 7, 1992
Ascent Type:No Summit Goal
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Boat
Place:Cascade Canyon
    Elevation:7400 ft / 2255 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today was my first day of climbing school, where the Exum Guide Service taught neophytes like me how to rock-climb. I had to take their beginner class today and their intermediate class tomorrow before they would guide me to the summit of the Grand Teton on Wednesday. Although I had done a lot of what you might call scrambling--off-trail hiking on rough, steep terrain that included small cliffs with good footing--I had never really scaled a vertical wall with ropes, belays, and protection. Actually, I did do a little bit of that back in 1985 in Philadelphia, but didn't remember the first thing about rope management or the specialized hardware.

So I drove to the Jenny Lake parking area, where the Exum headquarters was, changed into outdoor clothing, and went over to their little hut. I checked in at the chaotic place, a disorganized swirl of people and gear, and waited around for the various groups to get organized. Finally I was told to grab a climbing harness and helmet, and the guide leading today's beginning class led me and 6 others off.

Our guide was Jim "Rattie" Kantzler, a Montanan with notable first ascents to his credit in Glacier National Park--later, I even noticed a picture of him in my Montana Climber's Guide. Besides me, the class consisted of a couple Nacogdoches, TX; another couple from Atlanta; an older woman; and a thirtysomething woman yuppie who lived in the the same condo development in New Jersey as my Dad. We were led to a boat dock on Jenny Lake, where a small motor launch took us across the lake to the trail up Cascade Canyon.

Jim then spent the next seven hours or so teaching us how to tie knots, how to find footholds and handholds in a rock surface, how to use carabiners, webbing, and harnesses, how to "feel" the rock, and how to rappel. We had lunch halfway through the day's activities, and it was a nice, warm, sunny, day, even though we could see snow glistening on the summits above. I did OK, due to my extensive scrambling experience--Jim was impressed that I had climbed Montana's Granite Peak last year, since he had suffered a serious accident when a rock fell on his head while climbing Granite earlier this year, while guiding a party up that monster. The women had some trouble climbing the cliffs, including the one I was paired with for many of the exercises.

We didn't climb any mountains at all, instead just finding cliffs and crags in the lower reaches of Cascade Canyon to practice on. I had never rappelled, and found that to be an interesting experience, dangling like a spider on a rope while descending a cliff face. Due to the somewhat large size of our class, the slowness of some of the others, and the laid-back style of our guide, we were late returning to the boat landing, and we thought that we might have to hike back around the lake to the parking lot. However, after a mad dash to the dock, we saw that they were sending a special boat to take us back across the mile-wide lake, so we were spared the hike. The captain of the boat kidded Jim, since he apparently was frequently late.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:617 ft / 188 m
    Trailhead:6783 ft / 2067 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Guide

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