Every summer, City Kids JETs have the opportunity to climb the Grand Teton, the tallest peak in the Teton range with its summit standing at over two and a half miles above sea level. On August 7th, Desahray and Leon, two first-year JETs, experienced one of the biggest thrills of their lives as they took on this challenge. Having worked with Desahray and Leon since they joined the program in the 6th grade, City Kids staff member, Billie, was thrilled to continue her special relationship and join them on the expedition. Their training began with a five day backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail to get them acclimatized and in hiking shape for the journey ahead. Following this trip, they had two more days of training before the two day trek up the Grand. Luckily, they did so well on the first day of training that they weren’t phased when their second day was rained out. They were ready to climb.
“I have wanted to climb the Grand since I was a Ranger and I’m so proud of myself to have finally accomplished it! It was great to be with such a strong team who supported each other and cared for each other during the climb.”
Day one of the journey up the mountain involved seven miles of hiking and 5,000 feet of elevation just to get to the saddle. Soaked to the bone, their day was filled with more rain, but Desahray and Leon kept a positive attitude, told jokes, and carried on to their campsite where they stayed overnight. On the morning of the ascent, they woke up at 3am feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. Using the light from their headlamps, they set their sights on the peak above. With every step, their nerves diminished. They were prepared for this.
During their first year at City Kids, they learned how to boulder and climb top rope in DC at Movement Gyms (formerly known as EarthTreks). Two years later, they took part in a rock climbing trip in Wyoming with NOLS where they expanded their climbing knowledge and skill set. These weren’t just your average high schoolers climbing the Grand. These were experienced City Kids who had put in the hard work and weren’t afraid of a new challenge. While reaching the summit was amazing, it was their 5 year journey to get to the top of the mountain that they were most proud of.
After repelling down the mountain, they returned to Broken Arrow Ranch to gather around the City Kids campfire and recount stories from the climb to the younger campers and future climbers. Filled with pride, they shared the challenges they faced and how they relied on each other’s company and comedy to push through.
This fall, Desahray and Leon returned to DC for high school knowing they are two of very few DC youth who have summited one of the most iconic mountains in the country.
“If you stay focused and work hard, everyone at City Kids is capable of climbing the Grand and everyone should do it because how many people can say they climbed one of the biggest mountains in the United States.”