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Item #: BK7177-29615
GRAND CONTROVERSY: THE CONTROVERSIAL FIRST ASCENT OFTHE GRAND TETON Lorraine and Orrin Bonney 1992 1st ed New Paperback Multiple Copies Available
By Bonney, Lorraine and Orrin
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Grand Controversy: Pioneer Climbs in the Teton Range and the Controversial First Ascent of the Grand Teton 

1992. 458 pp, b/w photos. New thick softcover. (No hardcover issued)

The finest and most complete history of climbing in the Tetons, from 1872-1934; this covers the disputed 1872 1st ascent of the Grand, 1st Exum ridge climb, etc. 

Includes 73 historic black-and-white photos. Thoroughly researched, authoritative account of the controversy. Includes the story of legendary Paul Petzoldt's ascent. In 1872, James Stevenson and Nathaniel Langford claimed they had made the first ascent of the Grand Teton; however, they failed to leave a cairn or mark on the summit to prove their success. The second team claiming the summit in 1893 made the same error. So when Bill Owen summited in 1898 he claimed the first ascent and from that time on he controlled and shaped the mountain's history. The Grand Controversy is the story of the remarkable beginnings of Teton climbing, its pioneer era, and its fascinating, long unsettled controversy: Who really climbed the Grand Teton first?

The Grand Tetons from Wikipedia:

Grand Teton is the highest mountain within Grand Teton National Park, and the second highest in the U.S. state of Wyoming (after Gannet Peak in the Wind River Range). The origin of the name is controversial. The most common explanation is that 'Grand Teton' means 'large teat' in French, named by either French-Canadian or Iroquois members of an expedition led by Donald McKenzie of the Northwest Company. However, other historians disagree, and claim that the was named after the Teton Sioux tribe of Native Americans.

There is a controversy over who made the first ascent of Grand Teton. Nathaniel Langford and James Stevenson claimed to reach the summit on July 29, 1872. However, their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. The Enclosure is named after a man-made palisade of rocks on its summit, probably constructed by Native Americans. When William O. Owen climbed the true summit, he found no trace of prior human passage. Therefore, The Enclosure was probably first climbed by Native Americans, and the true summit was first climbed by William Owen.

Grand Teton can be climbed with minimal gear via the Owen-Spalding route (5.5). However, it is highly exposed and experience is recommended. The Owen-Spalding route is named after the climbers who made the first claimed ascent: William Owen, Franklin Spalding, Frank Peterson and John Shive. There is some debate as to which person made the first ascent; however most agree this group was the first. Their route begins at the Upper Saddle which is reached by walking from Lupine Meadows Trailhead, up Garnet Canyon, to the Lower Saddle.

Another famous route up the mountain is the Exum Ridge route (5.6), a 13-pitch exposed route first climbed by Glenn Exum, co-founder of Exum Mountain Guides. This route, too, can be found on the southern face of the mountain. The Owen-Spalding and Exum Ridge routes can be climbed from the base of the mountain at Lupine Meadows in one long day but the average person takes two days (a permit is required for an overnight stay in the backcountry). Routes up the north face are more difficult but famous in the climbing world.

The Grand Teton can also be skied in the winter. The first descent on skis was made by Bill Briggs in the spring of 1971; a route on the Owen-Spalding is now named in his honor.


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