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TETON FIRST: OWEN'S NORTH RIDGE IN WINTER
Posted on: April 4, 2007
Hans Johnstone crosses the northeast snowfield before reaching the North Ridge proper on Mt. Owen (12,928'), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. On March 18 Johnstone and Greg Collins made an eighteen hour push to the summit for the route's first winter ascent. [Photo] Greg Collins
The North Ridge of Mt. Owen (12,928') is one of the longest routes in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Adding distance by circumnavigating Owen to arrive at the ridge, Hans Johnstone and Greg Collins made the line's first winter ascent—in an eighteen hour push from car to summit—on March 18.
Johnstone and Collins got an alpine start for their circuitous route, where they accessed the Koven Couloir from the Teton Glacier, ascended to the col, dropped down the Bill Briggs Ski Diagonal, crossed a ski canyon and the Northeast Snowfields, climbed the Run Don't Walk Couloir, then began the 1000-meter North Ridge route (IV 5.9 in summer). The weather became windy, cloudy and cold on the technical ridge, but the impressive 500-foot left-facing corner in the middle of the route was "nicely chocked with snow" Collins said, and offered "a great place to dull your monopoints... and real nice rock climbing." A stormy sunset dissipated before they reached the summit at 8:20 p.m. A few rappels in the dark down the Koven Chimney led to the glacier, where they slept before returning home the next morning.
Mt. Owen's 1000-meter North Ridge stretches above Hans Johnstone. "All we had in our packs was a jacket and a water bottle," Johnstone said. "Sorta had to get over the top." He and Greg Collins reached the summit at 8:20 p.m. amid a minor storm on March 18, then returned to their bivy gear on the glacier. [Photo] Greg Collins
In 2003, Collins and Johnstone climbed the first ascent of the Golden Pillar (5.12-) on the North Face of the Grand Teton, and Collins said that he and Johnstone still "have a good partnership going." The two are planning trips to Yosemite and the Canadian Rockies over the next few months.
Sources: Greg Collins, www.jhmg.com