Memorial Day Teton Trip Report: Day One – Approach

I’ve been struggling to write this trip report for a while now, trying to avoid a 10 page novel. In an attempt to break it into bite sized pieces I’m going to be releasing the three days worth of trip reports as three separate posts. Here’s “Day One”. Enjoy.

If you asked most people to describe their version of “paradise” more often than not you’d get a description of a nice sandy beach on a tropical island. Ask them what they’d do there, and you’d hear about a lot of different ways to do nothing. My version of paradise is about as far from that as you can get, and this past Memorial Day weekend, we found it.


For almost a year now we’d been hatching plans to make an attempt at a ski descent of the Grand Teton. Somewhere along the lines we decided that if we were going to go all the way up there we might as well add the Middle Teton to that plan as well… Because, honestly, the skiing looks much better. Fast forward to Friday afternoon at the Lupine Meadows trailhead in Grand Teton National Park.

After picking up a few items in town, getting permits, and handling a couple last minute work emergencies we arrived at the trailhead ready to begin packing our bags at the crack of 5 pm. The mood at the trailhead was decidedly summery, trees and flowers in bloom, temps in the 70s, and perfect blue skies. As we unpacked the car most people would have started to question our sanity.  We crammed ~60 pounds of winter gear into each of our packs, eager to escape to the wintery paradise above.

The trek from the trailhead up to the meadows in the floor of Garnet Canyon is about 5 miles and 3000 vert. Our plan was to head up to the meadows and then push another mile and 1500 more vert up to “The Moraine” and setup camp. From there it would be ~1500 vert up the Middle Teton and ~2500 feet up to the top of the Grand. Putting us in a prime location to get after both of our objectives over the next two days. Things, however, never quite unfold like you expect. After a relatively late start and already having decided to take it super easy to attempt to not wear ourselves out on day one, we found ourselves arriving at the meadows around 9 pm.

Teton Sunset Shadows

Fortunately and unfortunately we found the perfect campsite waiting for us there. Most of the meadow was still under about 5-8 feet of snow and we knew we would definitely be looking at snow camping if we went any higher. But, right smack in the middle of the meadow there are a few huge boulders, the snow had melted out about 10 feet in diameter around these rocks creating the perfect campsite for us. We could pitch our tent on dry ground, under the rock, completely protected from the wind by the snowbank, with enough room to cook, hang out, and dry our gear without having to worry about snow. To boot there was a bear box (read: marmot box) melted out nearby, and 10 feet from our tent was a little stream of pristine snowmelt that we could drink directly from. Needless to say … we didn’t see any reason to continue upwards.

We set our alarm for 1:30 AM (three hours later) and promptly passed out.

Tetons - Meadows Camp Tetons - Meadows Camp Tetons - Meadows Camp


Day Two and our attempt on the Grand Teton can be found here: Memorial Day Teton Trip Report: Day Two

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