Just outside the wealthiest county in America stand some of the most majestic mountains on the planet–often referred to as America’s Alps for their striking resemblance to the granite range that towers above Chamonix. Within this labyrinth of stone and snow lay home to world-class skiing, backpacking, and–of course–alpine climbing.

Photographs and paintings of the Tetons have inspired artists, mountaineers, and poets for centuries. We wanted to see what it was all about for ourselves so we hit the road and headed for the mountains.

A little disclaimer here. We didn’t just show up and expect to climb the Grand Teton. For some experienced climbers that might be no big deal, but we decided to show up a few weeks early and get some serious training in.

Mountain Athlete is nothing like your local gym. No mirrors. No TV’s. Nothing unnecessary. It’s a little gem dedicated to human performance tucked in a warehouse just south of town. Class sizes are pretty small–usually about a dozen athletes–and the owner, Rob Shaul, doesn’t mess around. That’s why it’s where professional skiers and climbing guides go to train. I could run circles around the steroid hyped trainers of the East Coast after one month with Rob Shaul.

We hooked up with Exum Mountain Guides to climb the Grand. People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds attempt this climb every year and Exum has climbing the Grand Teton down to a turn key operation. Our crew headed up in pretty wintry conditions but you won’t have to worry about skiing up if you head there during July or August.

Exum’s Chief Guide, Christian Santelices, really saved our ass. These guides know the mountain better than anyone… and they bring snacks too.

Dehydrated lasagna never tasted so good.

At 13,100 feet, after spending a wind-howling night camped out on the Lower Saddle, we were drenched in sweat, snow, ice, fear, and pride. My colleagues and counterparts were either sitting in board rooms or staring at their blackberry for hours on end. I was standing a few hundred feet from the summit of the Grand Teton with nothing to worry about but my next step towards the top.

Interested in getting some quality ‘me-time’ in? Need to get outta dodge? You’re in luck. July is the best time of year to explore the Tetons so check out our custom Jackson Hole Gear Guide and book that much needed vacation.

Alister & Paine CEO, Brian Aitken, splitboarding up the Grand Teton. Photograph by Christian Santelices of Exum Mountain Guides.

Alister & Paine CEO, Brian Aitken, splitboarding up the Grand Teton. Photograph by Christian Santelices of Exum Mountain Guides.

  • Javi

    Great article. Brings the magic of the Tetons to NY.