Ten years ago, Teton pioneers Greg Collins and Hans Johnstone brought Wyoming’s iconic Grand Teton into 21st century climbing with the establishment of the Golden Pillar (V 5.12-, 300m), “a classic, flashable, hard crack line” on the mountain’s north face. The ensuing decade did little to advance technical standards on the mountain. Not only did the Golden Pillar remain unrepeated; most alpinists capable of leaving a mark on the peak focused their efforts on speed, climbing and skiing it as quickly as possible, and only by the standard lines.
Two weeks ago, that changed, when Collins and Johnstone added another modern route to “America’s Matterhorn.” On July 26, they climbed Bean's Shining Wall of Storms (V 5.12) in a day with no falls, completing a longstanding project on the southwest face.
Collins had first explored the route with the late Bean Bowers at the beginning of the century. The pair climbed the first three pitches of the line, which lies above the standard approach gully to the Owen-Spalding route, before a fierce hail storm chased them off.
In the ensuing decade, Collins was unable to elicit much interest from the few area climbers capable of sending 5.12 above 13,000 feet. One exception was Hans Johnstone, the Jackson innkeeper who remains, at 51, one of the most active alpinists in the range.
As Johnstone put it, “I was the only one Greg could convince to hike all the way up there to try it.”
Collins and Johnstone attempted the line last year, with Exum guide Dan Corn. This year, they returned twice to work out the individual cruxes before sending the route on July 26 with no falls.
The seven-pitch line includes four 5.10 pitches, one 5.11-, one 5.11+/5.12- and one 5.12.
Bean's Shining Wall of Storms, named in honor of Bowers, is, according to Collins, “overhanging, [with] good protection [and] big holds….” It includes a corner crack, a roof Johnstone describes as “burly”, and “incredible” face climbing. Collins called it “classic…. [Our] best and most rewarding new route yet.”
The route features “spectacular climbing right at the top of the range,” according to Johnstone. “It’s incredible.”
It’s possible the route will receive more attention than the Golden Pillar, as the southwest face is more accessible and less intimidating than the north face. Still, prospective candidates will need to get their mountain legs beneath them, as the 6,000-foot approach is longer than that found at most crags.