100 Years of Women Climbers in the Tetons

August 2023 marked the 100th anniversary of the first female ascent of the Grand Teton by Eleanor Davis. The occasion was celebrated through talks, panels, all-women climbs, Wyoming Public Radio stories, and an article on Eleanor for the Jackson Hole Historical Society. Read on!

Wyoming Public Radio on the 100th Anniversary of the 1st Woman to Climb the Grand

August 27, 1923 was the date that Eleanor Davis, a physical education instructor from Colorado College, became the first known woman to climb the Grand Teton. In honor of this centennial celebration, Exum hosted two all-women’s climbs of the Grand Teton in August of 2023. Read or listen to the Wyoming Public Radio stories below – both feature Dr. Kimberly Geil, Exum History Project founder.

Talk & Panel at the Jackson Hole Historical Society on 100 Years of Women Climbers in the Tetons

Dr. Geil gave a talk at the Jackson Hole Historical Society on Eleanor Davis and other early women climbers, and moderated a panel that included Irene Beardsley and Catherine Cullinane, the first female guides at Exum; Sue Miller and Georgie Stanley, two of the first female guides at Jackson Hole Mountain Guides; and Bev Boynton, local climber extraordinaire. The event took place on August 24, 2023, and had an enthusiastic, standing room only crowd!

Article for the Jackson Hole Historical Society Chronicle on Eleanor Davis’ Historic First Ascent

After the talk, the Jackson Hole Historical Society asked Dr. Geil to turn her research on Eleanor Davis into an article for their magazine, the Chronicle. It was the cover story in the December 2023 issue, and you can read it here.

Wyoming PBS Video on the Exum Ridge

In 2023, Wyoming PBS did a 10-minute film on Exum Mountain Guides and the Exum Ridge, featuring current guides and staff, including Kim Geil on the history of the ridge. Wyoming PBS describes the film as follows: “Paul Petzoldt & his protege Glenn Exum started guiding climbs in Teton National park in the 1930’s. While Glenn went on to establish his namesake route and guide service, their combined visionary approach to teaching climbing left an indelible mark on North America’s guiding ethos.”

1947 Documentary “The Mountain” Featuring Paul & Glenn

This gem shows footage of both Paul Petzoldt and Glenn Exum guiding Virginia Garner up the Grand Teton. It’s a completely silent film – no dialogue, no music, no audio at all, so it’s an unusual experience to just have the visual to focus on. But it’s worth watching – the gear! The techniques! And it went on tour – we know for sure that Glenn accompanied it to Chicago for a showing and a lecture in 1949. According to the flyer, it was the “First Complete Climbing Movie Filmed in America.” Click here to watch this 43-minute classic for free.

UW-NPS Small Grant Final Report

Logo of the UW-NPS Research Station (round, with a drawing of the Tetons, a cabin, and wildlife)

Oral histories of Exum Mountain Guides who began guiding between 1947 and 1965,” by Kimberly Geil, PhD and Yolonda Youngs, PhD is the final report for a University of Wyoming-National Park Service Small Grant received by the authors in 2017. Learn about the similarities and differences between how the guides in that time period got hired on at Exum and learned to guide, their educational levels, their careers outside of guiding, life at Guides Hill, and more – including stories of marmots and soup cans! Note: click here for the abstract, then on the PDF button on the top right to read the whole report. And check out the great picture of Al Read carrying up a piece of the 1960 Smith Hut to the Lower Saddle!

Grand Teton Summit Registers

In Grand Teton National Park, from the late 1920s up until the 1980s, there were summit registers on the top of most all the commonly climbed peaks in the range. As the notebooks filled up, they were brought down to the valley and replaced with fresh ones, ready for those who had achieved the summit to record their names. By the 1980s, as interest in climbing exploded, the number of climbers was too great and it was no longer feasible to maintain the summit registers.

Thanks to Paul Horton, former owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and local climbing historian, the summit registers have been saved and digitized. You can access them here:

The summit register entry from Glenn Exum’s historic first ascent of the Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton, July 9, 1931. Courtesy of Paul Horton, Teton Climbing History

Mountain Men (and Women) Podcast Series

Get insight into how the original mountain men who traveled through the area at the turn of the 19th century impact the culture of the town of Jackson, WY today, and better understand how mountain men, or the idea of them, have “evolved” into current day mountain men and women in Jackson.

Created by local resident Ellis Givens, this three-part podcast draws on interviews with multiple people, including Exum guides Jessica Baker, Christian Santelices, and Jack Tackle, and Exum office staff Jane Gallie and Kimberly Geil.

Episode 1: The first of three podcasts that aims to look at the American mountain men of the fur trade and their lasting impact on the town of Jackson Hole and the American West as a whole. This episode discusses some of the mountain men to venture into areas surrounding current-day Jackson Hole, what their lives were like, and why these individuals wanted to explore in the American West during the early 1800s.

Episode 2: The second of three podcasts that aims to look at the American mountain men of the fur trade and their lasting impact on the town of Jackson Hole and the American West as a whole. This episode has interviews from climbing and hunting guides answering questions pertaining to their lives; why they dare to make a living in mountains of Western Wyoming, why these mountains are so nostalgic and revered, and if there are similarities between their lives and those of the original mountain men here in the 1800s.

Episode 3: The last of three podcasts that aims to look at the American mountain men of the fur trade and their lasting impact on the town of Jackson Hole and the American West as a whole. This episode still has interviews from climbing and hunting guides discussing how the connection that Jackson Hole, our mountains, and those who spend time in them has to the original mountain men. On a larger scale, however, this final podcast looks at both the positive and negative aspects to come from this connection to the individuals from the fur trade era and how that impacts the culture of the mountains, towns, and people of the American West today.

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