More Than a Grand

Cold Front

Ever since bill briggs skied the 13,771-foot grand teton in 1971, it’s been considered America’s most coveted line-one that requires world-class mountaineering and skiing skills. Today, anyone with a disposable income might be able to mimic Briggs’s feat. On June 4, Cameron Romero of Salt Lake City forked over $1,300 to Exum Mountaineering and became the first commercially guided client to ski the Grand.

He was in good hands: His guides, Doug Coombs and Marc Newcomb, already had a combined 13 descents of the peak, and had perfected a ski-belay system for descents. “The technique lets you ski normally with a rope attached to your harness,” says Newcomb.

Exum insists that skiing the Grand won’t be as simple as writing a check. Al Read, the company’s co-owner, says they’ll take only a handful of people per year: “Clients will have to have proven themselves on previous trips.” Still, 11 days after Romero’s descent, Coombs successfully led Steve Gabbert, of Sugar Land, Texas, up, and down, the Grand. “The price is steep,” says Gabbert. “But I’d do it again in a blink.”