Steve Shea Brings Old School Values to the Next Generation

Q:  How long have you been climbing?

Since 1967.

Q: What type(s) of climbing do you like to do?

BITD grade IV, V free climbs. Cracks, Yosemite, Diamond etc. Plus short hard free routes. Alpine climbing, mixed rock/ice. These days I enjoy fun free climbing in the sun, cragging. I like to place pro.

Q: What drives you?

As a friend and old climbing partner John Long says, “climbing is the king of sports.”   For me it is, and I want to keep at it while I can.

Q: What inspired you to start climbing? 

To see the other side of the mountain.  And to see if I could.

Q: What is your proudest ascent?  

That is tough to answer.  Each goal was very special.  A mostly free ascent of the Nose. My free ascent of Diamond D7/ Curving Vine.  Certain short free climbs…off widths BITD.  The Dru Couloir Direct 1st Ascent, Eiger NF winter in the 70′s, new routes in Chamonix and Tibet.  I can’t say, there are so many memories.

Q: What is the worst experience you have had on a climb?  Have you ever gotten that ‘sinking feeling’ in your stomach?

Yes, on the Grand Central Couloir on the North Face of Mount Kitchener in the Canadian Rockies. We were well up on the lower ice field and just got a bad feeling. The isotherm was too high and we just knew something was not right.  It was too warm. We decided to rappel off.  Not a half hour after crossing the bergschrund the entire lower apron avalanched down to black ice. By then we were out on the approach glacier and away from the deposition. It was big! We came close on that one. But for the grace…

Q: Where is your favorite place in the Tetons?

The north side of the Grand Teton. It is a very alpine environment with lots of things to do (ice/mixed) if you follow the conditions closely.

steve s

Q: Do you have any training methods that work best for you?

Climbing. In lieu of that, training at Wright Training. I have never been much for climbing gyms. They are good for upper body strength but worthless for foot work. Crystal Wright is a climber and has a great approach to overall fitness. Even the movement between workout stations is part of her program. I have been able to maintain climbing fitness easily at Wright Training. You just have to put the work in. Then climb a lot.

Q:  How are you raising your family around climbing?

I have twin 15 year olds, Ann and Steve. We climb as much as our schedules permit. They are in the Jackson Hole High School mountaineering club. The club is staffed by teachers who guide in the summers. It is a great resource for the kid’s. They also workout at Wright Training and are participating in alpine ski racing and USSA.  We are a mountain sports family and climb mostly trad.

Q: What was your first pair of climbing shoes?


Q:  In your eyes, how has climbing evolved over the past 20 0r 30 years?

The technology has certainly changed for the better.  Stronger, lighter materials. New equipment designs. It is really fun to see the changes. It is great see more people getting out and enjoying the crags and mountains. I’m not a fan of the new “adventure” though. Cell phones, GPS and other gizmos as part of the kit. I think it gives false sense of security and preparation. It short circuits getting real experience in some cases. I know that dates me, but when I am out there I want to be out there. I think that mindset makes you more resilient and better prepared.


 Q:  Who do you look up to?

The pioneers. Buhl, Terray, Gervasutti etc. Having climbed some of their routes it is a wonder that they got off the ground with the equipment they had. I think the best alpinist ever was Jerzy Kukuczka.

Q:  Did you have a mentor?

Not really. It was the blind leading the blind. However, Boulder back in the sixties was full of climbers willing to share knowledge.

Q:  Do you have any advice for up and coming climbers?

Focus and really prepare. Enjoy the day. There is never a bad day if you’re climbing. You always experience and learn.  Even in retreat, bad weather, and lousy bivouacs. Experience is the path forward.


Ski Fitness

Ski and Snowboard Fitness Class

Registration opens this week!

This is a progressive series

16 classes, 8 weeks

September 29th through November 20th, 2014

We are offering a beginner and intermediate/advanced levels!!!

Beginner:    Mondays and Wednesdays, 8am and 12:15pm

Intermediate/advanced:    Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30pm and 6:45pm as well as

Tuesdays and Thursdays  8:15am, 1:15pm,  6:45pm

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7am (full) and 5:30pm (full)

Cost is $208 for all classes, we will prorate if necessary.

To hold your spot we need a cc or check payment please.

Sign Up

Register and pay online at Mind Body


email Wright training at


talk to your coach.

*Anyone who signs up for all 8 weeks gets into a drawing for a free pair of skis, arcteryx gear and gu products. *

Ice Climbing Fitness

Ice Climbing Fitness Class

16 classes, 8 weeks

Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30pm and 6:45pm

Cost is $256 for all classes, we will prorate if necessary.

This Class is Limited to 6 participants! Sign Up Now!

To hold your spot we need a cc or check payment please.

Sign Up

Register and pay online at Mind Body


email Wright training


talk to your coach.



You’re driving through Grand Teton early in the morning.  You notice a beaver pond next to the road. A large chocolaty-brown colored mammal with a dangly tassel under its chin is majestically wading through the water!  It appears to be a particularly non-threatening breed of swamp donkey placidly grazing on some green goo from the bottom of the pond.  You snap some photos while 200 other people pull over and a Moose jam ensues.  Everyone gets out of their cars and approach the animal for close ups. …30,20,10 feet away from disaster.  Everything is fine and dandy and the beast continues to stay calm and composed like a robotic statue.  Moose are chill, right?…


Moose are herbivores.   Basically a giant bog deer, they spend most of their time munching on aquatic vegetation including willows, trees, grasses, and bushes.  They aren’t exactly out for blood… Or so you would think!

Our large mammals in JH are undoubtably dangerous.  Most people think of bears as the scariest animal you might encounter in the woods.  In my opinion, MOOSE are right up there on my list as the most unpredictable and temperamental animals out there!  With our perceived safety around these 1000 lb. wild critters, I think it is amazing that we do not usually hear of anyone being killed or injured by moose attack.  On the roadside or in the backcountry!


Here’s where things got real for me.  Last week I went out for a hike on Phillips Pass.  The trail is relatively level but is cut into a steep hillside.   I was trudging back from a cold solo hike in a hail storm when I came up and over a small roller in the trail.  Directly in front of me, about 4 inches from my nose, is a rack of antlers.  Big bull moose antlers!

I take about 20 steps back from where I came, never taking my eyes off those antlers and then I basically levitate in fear to the top of the steep 45 degree slope.  I sit down with nowhere to run and the moose comes diagonally up the slope at me.  He snorts, puts his head down, rears up, spins around and retreats!  He’s gone… for now.

I catch my breath.  I’m sure my heart was beating at about a mile per minute. Maybe if I were as diesel as Crystal Wright I could take him.  I’m sorry to say  I’m not and he outweighs me by about 900 lbs.  So I proceed to make a phone call, declaring that if I get murdered by a moose today my friends can have my best belongings.  They knew I was out hiking in that area, but I wanted to be clear that I was in trouble!


I wait about 20 minutes.  All I want is to go home.  I hike above the area and attempt to circle around the trees where I think the moose might have gone.  My eyes are wide and my head is on a swivel, scanning for the Mr. Mean Moose.  Eventually I return to the trail and continue on my way.  I walk for another 5 minutes and Damn!  There He IS…  Not even 15 feet above me!!

This time I scramble down the hill.  By this point he’s all stirred up about me being there.  He takes his first pass at me.  I feel like a first-time matador in the ring with no way out.   I see a root ball from a downed tree and a leaning dead tree above it.  It’s my best option and I crawl underneath.  I ball up and put my backpack above my head!   He tramples a web pattern around the forest.  I could have touched his hoof on one of his passes. These guys are incredibly strong and can bolt faster than you would imagine!

Eventually he leaves the area.  Everything is quiet.  Please, no more moose encounters tonight!!!  I emerge and run on a bad knee to my truck.

We all love to hike in the mountains.  Moose are definitely a danger to consider! This time of the year they are feeling especially aggressive. ( It is the beginning of the rut, lots of testosterone! ). Be careful out there!!!


Hikers remember:  Try to hike with a buddy or group.  Let other friends or family know where you are hiking.  Carry bear (moose) spray or consider other ways to defend yourself.  Talk or sing to avoid startling wildlife.  Always be alert- NO headphones.  Cell phones are a great invention, carry one.   In any encounter with wildlife (accidental or not) treat them with respect!

photo 4

Pierre’s Hole Recap: From Crying to Cranking

It was May and I needed motivation for the summer.  Hanging out in the sun on the lake sounded like a blast, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t push towards and accomplish a goal for the season.  I had my eye on a few races, but almost all of them fell on dates that I was either going to be attending weddings or traveling out of the area. All except for one- the Pierre’s Hole over at Grand Targhee.
photo 1-2
Pierre’s Hole offers several different endurance distances- 50K, 100K, and 100 mile- and this year the course was boasting even more sweet singletrack than ever. I decided to commit to the 100-mile race, which meant that I had to tell everyone and anyone about it so that I actually had some accountability to train for it. The only other mountain bike race I had ever done was the 25-mile Teton Pass Kicker last year.  I knew that 100 miles was a stretch and would take a serious training commitment to even finish the ride, never mind to do well in it.
Long training rides in hail storms

Long training rides in hail storms

I started off the season feeling strong.  I completed the bike fitness program at Wright Training and had been running and spinning all winter.  My cardio strength was in good shape. My goal was to get at least 3-4 rides in during the week, including one long-distance ride. Plus, to continue my strength training at Wright Training three times a week. Regardless of how much I ride or run, strength workouts are a necessary component to my training plans because I rely hugely on them mentally for toughness, preparedness, and confidence.
Snow King climbs on the Specialized Rumor

Snow King climbs on the Specialized Rumor

Throughout the summer season I progressed my distance rides incrementally from  25 miles up to 60+ miles. I typically love riding by myself and setting my own pace, but looping Cache-Game and Phillips Ridge gets really old about 30 miles in, and 6+ hour bike rides alone get really, really …wait for it… lonely.  Mentally I really struggled with finding motivation when faced with the choice between spending precious summer days having fun in the mountains or on the water with good friends versus spending 8 hours in the saddle by myself eating GU. I also faced the challenge of traveling for a few weeks of Jackson’s short summer and those training gaps had me missing out on some critical long rides.  The rides that would have made getting to my goal of riding 80 miles on the trails before the race more realistic.
Trying to get some miles in on Chicago's Divvy commuter rental fleet- not exactly 7,000 feet of vert there to train on

Trying to get some miles in on Chicago’s Divvy commuter rental fleet- not exactly 7,000 feet of vert train on

I returned from a week and a half on the East Coast with three weeks left to train for the race.  I headed over to Targhee to ride the course and try to get my 80 miles in.  I knew if I could do 80 that I’d be in the clear. The longest ride I had done before was about 62, and getting to 80 was a big leap. Too big. About 40 miles into my ride it was pouring rain and thundering and I was pretty much in tears just thinking about having to ride another 40, or 60 on race day. I wasn’t having fun. AT ALL.  And mountain biking should be fun!  Being extremely hard headed, stubborn, and self-competitive, my decision to “down-grade” to the 100K race wasn’t an easy one. But once I officially signed up for the 100K I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and, for the first time during training, I felt excitement about the race instead of pure dread.
So many Farrins selfies

So many Farrins selfies

The race itself was a blast. The trails at Targhee are super fun and still somewhat new to me. Since I had never done a race of that length, I had no idea how I would do and my expectations were low. I had three goals for the race: 1)stay positive, 2) have fun, and 3) finish. I found myself in second place for a majority of the first lap and just behind me was a friendly female racer from Bend, OR. We chatted a little on the uphills and raced each other on the downhills. She passed me on the road climb back to Targhee and I happily took the third place position. Further and further into the race, I was still holding onto third place and still having fun. I had some severe leg cramping about 50 miles in, but upped my water intake, grabbed a Coke and some electrolytes at the next aid station and continued to push. The last lap was a challenge. My lungs were burning and my climbs were slow, but the downhills rejuvenated me and the prospect of being on the podium kept me going.  I gave myself a lot of pep talks and held on to the positive attitude that I was going to finish.
I ended up finishing third for the women’s 100K, just 21 seconds behind my second-place Bend friend. I was so psyched. Psyched to be done and on the podium, psyched to not be last, and psyched to see my awesome support crew cheering for me at the end. It made the lonely training days and GU stomach aches all worthwhile, and made my apres-race huckleberry mojito at the Branding Iron taste that much better.
An article about Gu alternatives- if you’re having the same problem:
photo 3-6
I definitely learned some important newbie lessons during my first endurance race training  experience. I’m hoping to do Pierre’s again next year and will try to take my own recommendations on how to do a few things differently:
#1: Be realistic about time, commitment, and motivation when choosing a race goal; mock-up a training schedule and determine whether or not you can commit to it based on travel, pre-existing weekend commitments, and personal level of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out- mine is high at all times)
#2: Find someone to train with, even if it is for one or two laps of a three lap training day
#3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
#4: Take the time to find race-day nutrition that works for your body- I was too overwhelmed by my training mileage to think about finding an effective GU replacement, but I wish I had- my stomach was upset for days after the race
#5: If you’re not having fun, reevaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and don’t be afraid to adjust your goals to reality
#6: Find someone to train with- I’m saying this again because I think it is crucial for mental health on long training days
#7: Be kind to yourself and be proud of what your body can accomplish
#8: Incorporate longer road rides into training schedule-  I can’t believe I just typed that, but Jackson summers are short and I think road rides are one of the only ways to get enough training miles in for an endurance race
Pro-tip: End a 60 miler with a sloshie from the Bird for the bike path home from Game Creek

Pro-tip: End a 60 miler with a sloshie from the Bird for the bike path home from Game Creek

Mental toughness was once again huge for me at Pierre’s.  Although I felt shaky going into the race due to perceived under-training, race-day adrenaline kicked in.  Confidence in my strength and willpower kept me pushing hard to the finish line!
Now, who wants to do the 100 miler with me next year? I’m on the hunt for training partners!
By: Jenny Wolfrom-  Trainer at Wright Training
Come Train with Jenny at Wright Training!  3620 S. Park Drive.
Jenny’s classes are Fridays at 12:15 PM, Wednesdays at 7:00 AM, and Mondays at 6:45 PM!
Check out our full class schedule at ::