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Julie Ellison

Onward & Upward: A century of women climbing in the Tetons

In late 2022, I learned that The Teton Climbers’ Coalition would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first female ascent of the Grand Teton the next year, and they were looking for suggestions on how to engage the community. This sparked the nugget of an idea in my storyteller’s brain—I could help mark this full century of women climbing in the Tetons while sharing my own love of these mountains with a wider audience. The history of climbing here feels like a living, breathing one, where friends and neighbors I see at the trailhead and the grocery store have played a part in shaping its past, present and future. Since the start of 2023 I interviewed nine women who have climbed in the Tetons from the 1950s up until today. Their stories are varied—some have notched superlatives, while others have quietly climbed these peaks without getting their names in the history books.