Jeremy Broncho reaches the "Enclosure" site. (Submitted photos)
By LORI EDMO
FORT HALL — A group from Fort Hall climbed the Grand Teton to the rock formation “Enclosure” last week and for the adults, both said it was a great experience.
Jeremy Broncho and Lytle Denny, along with Lytle’s two children — River and Warren made the trip as part of an arrangement through Fort Hall Recreation and Jeremy Pague. Caleb Sanchez from Wind River Indian School also made the trek.
Pague said he works with an organization called Tracking Project out of New Mexico to give an opportunity to both Native and non-Native kids to engage in outdoor activities.
Mike Sakelaris, Recreation director, said they hoped more kids could have participated but with school and the Eastern Idaho State Fair going on, it wasn’t good timing. However Pague said with Exum Mountain Guides busy schedule, it was the only time available for them and it’s usually good weather after Labor Day. He said Exum is one of the oldest mountain guides in the country. The group camped for two days on the plains, they completed the ropes and guides training then climbed up to the lower saddle of Grand Teton.
A guide instructs climbers, including Lytle Denny and Jeremy Broncho.
Jeremy Broncho said they took training next to Hidden Falls above Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. They learned knots, how to climb pitches and between rocks, along with learning to repel. On September 7 they hiked eight hours up, “It was pretty incredible.” He said they worked their way through boulders, came to a beautiful meadow, hiked next to a waterfall, and climbed over rubble to get to the saddle between the two peaks of the Grand where they camped. He said the next morning they woke up at 4 a.m. and hiked to the “Enclosure” by 5:10 a.m. Broncho said there’s no words to describe when getting near the top.
The Enclosure is a rock formation piled in a circle and it is believed to be an area where Newe ancestors went for vision quests.
Broncho said Sak sent him on the climb to get a feel for it and perhaps next year there will be more kids. Although he said it was tough for him, he made it. When he came down, he felt lighter. “It was very exhilarating and unbelievable.”
Lytle said Pague thought it would be a great idea to get Native American youth to climb the Tetons as he gets funding from non-profits to take kids on camping trips. He said it was amazing to think our tribal people climbed the area with moccasins. “We hiked on a trail, our ancestors didn’t have trails.”
Lytle Denny climbing.
He said they stayed at Exum high camp where they were crammed in a little hut. They climbed from about 6,800 feet to 11,700 the first day and the following morning they went the rest of the way. They were 500 feet from the top of the Grand Teton. Lytle said it was a great experience for all of them and the guide told them his son Warren was the youngest to make it to the “Enclosure.” Many of the climbers they passed along the trail were amazed the kids made it. “I’m very proud of them – they had a lot of training as I took them hiking all spring – they were in shape for it,” Denny continued. “It’s one thing to have endurance and another to climb elevation – the goal next year is to climb to the top of the Grand.” They set the goal for the Enclosure this year because it was built by Native Americans.
Lytle said it was his first time climbing the Tetons and it’s unfortunate they couldn’t get more youth to go. He said part of the plan for the future is to get kids to do smaller climbs such as City of Rocks or Mount Putnam. “We hope to keep it going – it was a beautiful hike and nice to be out there spending time with friends and family.” He added it was cool to be away from reality and to think back how it was back in the day. “When you’re up there it’s a different world, we drank out of springs, ate berries and enjoyed the end of summer – can’t wait to go back,” Denny said.
He said each of the climbers had their own pack, warm clothes and a helmet. They were careful where to relieve themselves because they didn’t want to contaminate the springs.
Sakelaris said in preparation for next year, they will be sending local kids to a rock climbing class this fall for those ten and older so interested persons should get ready.
Lytle Denny with his children, River and Warren.