There and Back Again: A Father and Son Adventure

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Photo: Charlie Markusen leading “The Window Pitch” Grand Teton, WY

My 21 year old son Charlie looked at the rock face above him and turned to me saying, “I can do this.” It was 3 pm and we were alone at the base of the Friction Pitch, the crux section of the upper Exum Ridge.

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Photo: Charlie and the 2000 foot (right skyline ridge) Petzoldt/Upper Exum Route

We had been on the move for nine hours having climbed the Direct Petzoldt Ridge route, 1000 feet of 5.7 technical climbing. From the top of the Petzoldt, we soloed the traverse to the Exum ridge and climbed to the Friction Pitch unroped. My intent was to belay here, but instead, I nodded to Charlie and said let’s do it. Up the steep face we went, Charlie first and me behind. Climbing as one, we moved upward using small, but good holds on perfect Teton golden granite. At 4 pm we reached the summit of the Grand. A memorable day for father and son.

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Photo: Charlie on the 13,775 foot summit of the Grand Teton

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