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Johnstone, Collins Establish Overhanging Route on Middle Teton

After a free ascent (nearly onsight) of Royal Robbins’s Middle Teton aid route, Taylor, a year earlier, Hans Johnstone wanted to open another line on this steep north face. Lying between the North Ridge and the Middle Teton Glacier, this compact, overhanging wall provides a technically challenging climb without tremendous length but with all of the spice.

On August 18, after a false start to the right, Hans and I gained a slanting ramp by the first of eight very steep pitches, watching the Stetner Couloir crumble across the canyon (the giant chockstone created by the September, 2007 rockfall–documented here–roared, rattled and smashed to dust). At 6 p.m. we arrived at Pitch 4, the crux overhang. Here we rappelled down and camped the night.

The next morning we warmed up by making the first ascent of Red Alert (5.11c, 70m), a crimpy, soon-to-be classic route on the south face of the Red Sentinel. After making a quick ascent, we ran off to our main project on the Middle.

Unlike the previous day, the north fork of Garnet Canyon was relatively empty, though the Grand’s south face continuously roared as the Stetner Coulior and the Underhill Ridge continued to separate from the Grand Teton.

After quickly free climbing to the previous day’s high point, Hans stomped up an overhanging corner above the belay and hammered his way out a roofy corner with a blade, a beak and a smashed stopper in a rough, upside-down flake. From there we swapped leads, hammering and free climbing up steep corners and ramps to the top of the wall. We rappelled to descend. Though the North Wall (5.11 A2, 8 pitches) isn’t as nice as the Taylor route, it’s certainly a worthy addition to the face.