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To Climbing The Grand Teton In A Day

The Grand Teton

Free Soloing The Owen-Spalding & Upper Exum Routes

The text will still prove useful to climbers on these two routes.

Visit the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers blog for current conditions.
Stop by a Visitor Center for additional information.
Visit the WyomingWhiskey blog for Trip Reports and route photos.

Climbers can be seen on the Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding & Upper Exum routes without protection or guides when the weather & climbing conditions are ideal. You don't need to be a great climber to follow in their footsteps. If you're a robust hiker who's comfortable with mountain scrambling & steep drop-offs then the chances are very good that you can make the round-trip during daylight hours when conditions are suitable.

Free soloing the Grand Teton can be a relatively safe activity; however, there are no safe routes on the Grand Teton. Natural threats like ice, rockfall, and fast-changing weather are common. This mountain is unforgiving to soloers who make a mistake and death can happen far away from the summit block. In 2013, Gary Miller and Edward Tom slipped during separate incidents while on the Meadows' headwall in Garnet Canyon. Both lost their lives. Mr. Miller was finishing a guided climb as he stood unprotected on a slippery slope above a snow fissure undercut by freezing water. Mr. Tom was searching for a camping spot near the edge of a cliff after a heavy rainstorm.

Novice climbers who are unfamiliar with the Grand Teton should stick to the Owen-Spalding route and climb when conditions are dry and the weather is perfect. It's the quickest, shortest, and easiest climb on the Grand. It's easier to turn around if conditions sour or you become uncomfortable with the climb. By climbing up, you'll know the way down and what to expect. Additionally, the OS is a busy place and that's a good thing for safety and route finding. The Upper Exum route is harder and more time consuming. Soloers on the Upper Exum will need to familiarize themselves with the Owen-Spalding route because it's used for down-climbing off the summit block.

~ Sections ~

~ Lupine Meadows Trailhead ~
~ Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle via Garnet Canyon ~
~ The Lower Saddle & its Headwall ~
~ Routes Between The Lower & Upper Saddle ~
~ The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Route ~
~ The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Route ~
~ The Rappel To The Upper Saddle ~
~ The Route With Early-Season Snow ~
~ Weather ~
~ Conditions & Safety ~
~ 2013 Trip Reports ~
~ Virtual Tours ~
~ WebCams ~


~ Lupine Meadows Trailhead ~

The road to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead is just south of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. It's marked on the GTNP Visitor Map and there's a small sign at the turnoff. The 1.6 mile-long road is paved until you cross a bridge over Cottonwood Creek and turn south. The dirt road forks in a few places but you'll stay on the longest road heading to the southwest. Signs will direct you. The potholes and washboards get worse as the summer rolls out. The abundant trailhead parking can disappear on busy days. Lupine Meadows is about 30 minutes from Jackson.

You'll find a toilet at the trailhead but you won't find potable water flowing from a pipe. There's an outdoor drinking fountain and faucet at the Jenny Lake Store. The store is about a mile away from the junction to Lupine Meadows. At the trailhead, you'll find a large sign with general information about the area and a trail map. If you lose an item while climbing, leaving a message on the sign post is more likely to result in a returned item than GTNP's lost & found services.

You should definitely carry bear spray if there are temporary signs at the trailhead warning hikers about grizzly bears, or problem black bears. These signs are usually dated and state a specific danger like the recent sighting of a grizzly. It's not unusual to see bears. I see them every year and they can be uncomfortably close — suddenly & just feet away. Learn what to do during a bear encounter. While most bears will ignore you or leave the area, not all bears will react so kindly. Grizzly & black bears (sows with cubs) were frequent visitors to the climbers' trail in 2012. Less so in 2013. None created a problem for trail users. Frankly speaking, your chances of getting injured on the Grand are greater than your chances of getting injured by a bear but never underestimate the threat posed by either one. You might want bug spray if the area hasn't dried out.

The Lupine Meadows trailhead starts at about 6,750 feet. The average low temperature at the valley floor during July and August is 40°F. The avg. high temp is about 79°F. The Grand Teton's summit will stay above 40°F during the warmest nights. The Lower Saddle's weather station and the National Weather Service's recreational forecast can give you an idea what kind of clothing you'll need. The data is only available during the summer. Use the recreational summit forecast as a trending line for the weather in the Tetons. The forecast is far from definitive. More weather information can be found in the weather section below.

Many people think they're in great shape and can knock out this mountain in a day when in fact they have trouble getting to the Lower Saddle. You'll have 16 hours of light (dawn through dusk) during the longest days of summer (June) but you may not have 16 hours of good weather and conditions once you leave Lupine Meadows. It's common for local soloers to start near sunrise and finish mid-day. Carrying climbing gear can add many hours to a single-day round-trip with friends. Such groups often leave the trailhead at 1 or 2 am. Guided parties are often leaving the 11,680 ft. Lower Saddle between 3 & 4 am to avoid the risk of afternoon thunderstorms. The time you leave is an important factor in your success as is the time limit you place on your adventure.

Lupine Meadows Trailhead   North Fork Garnet Canyon

7.5 min USGS Grand Teton Climbers Trail


~ The Approach from Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle via Garnet Canyon ~

You're headed up the trail to Garnet Canyon and you'll pass two junctions along the way. The first one goes to Bradley Lake. The second goes to Amphitheater Lake. For soloers traveling fast & light, it's about 30 minutes to the first junction, 1 hour to the second, and about 1.5 hours to the Platforms Camping Zone by Garnet Creek (4.1 miles - 9000') or the Meadows Camping Zone in Garnet Canyon (4.5 miles - 9,200'). A fast soloer will get to the Lower Saddle in 2.5 hours. Officially, that's where the OS & UXM routes start. A round-trip between the saddle & the 13,775' summit can be done in 1.5 hours but most climbers won't move at that speed. No worries if you're slower. The distance to the summit from Lupine Meadows is often debated but we're going to guess it's between 6.5 and 7 miles until better measurements become available.

You can find water at many locations along the trail. Some water definitely needs filtration. Animals will drink directly from the source of all springs. Water flows vary with the time of year, the time of day, and the weather. A small spring above the junction to Bradley Lake provides water next to the trail. Its flow fluctuates throughout the summer. Make sure you're using the spring and not one of the exposed drainages. You can find water near the top of Spalding Falls (9,750') where the trail intersects a spring. This is by the junction to the Petzoldt's Caves Camping Zone. This spring feeds the falls and runs all summer. Most climbers drink it unfiltered. There's a hose which collects water from a very small drainage near the Lower Saddle's most eastern camping site. The water flow can disappear during dry years. You can also get water from the Middle Teton Glacier & a Teepe Glacier drainage. Above the Lower Saddle, a trickle of water often flows in the drainages. Make sure you have enough water for the long hike back to the trailhead during the descent. The trailhead appears to be about 4.6 miles from the spring feeding Spalding Falls.

You'll pass several shortcuts above the Bradley Lake junction that are officially closed to all traffic. I clocked a 60-second difference between myself and a group that took an old climbers trail toward Garnet Canyon. There are good reasons for staying on the trail besides preserving the environment in a National Park. In 2013, Phil White took a slight deviation from the trail to the Middle Teton and was buried by rockfall in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. His actions took him closer to a run-out zone. The trail isn't always safe. In 2013, rockfall blasted parts of the climbers trail at the mouth of Garnet Canyon. Of course, if you're injured or trying to summon assistance a shortcut may be necessary for health and safety reasons.

The trail from Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle via the North Fork of Garnet Canyon is pretty well defined when free of snow. The trail disappears at a few rocky areas only to reappear a short distance away. There are two boulder fields below the Lower Saddle where the trail disappears for a hundred feet or so (guessing) and then reappears in an area that isn't right in front of you. Both can be confusing. The first boulder field is near the Platforms Camping Zone where the trail meets Garnet Creek. There's a sign at the trail's temporary end. Start by heading west into the boulders. Scramble toward the SW to get back on the trail which is next to the creek. The best path is not obvious but you'll get to where you need to go. When snow completely covers the boulders, you'll just head west. There is a large natural shelter near where the trail resumes by the creek should you need it. It may be flooded or plugged with snow early in the season. The access is a narrow opening facing south. There is another shelter between the boulder field and the Meadows in Garnet Canyon that's next to the trail. It's hard to miss.

You're heading up the North Fork of Garnet Canyon to reach the Lower Saddle. Don't make the mistake of crossing Garnet Creek to its south side once you arrive at the Meadows' Camping Zone. Early in the season, most climbers will ascend the south side of the Meadows' headwall when snow still covers the area. See our section about climbing with early-season snow if you're climbing under such conditions.

The summer climbers' trail runs along the north side of the creek and heads up switchbacks near Spalding Falls. The Petzoldt's Caves Camping Zone is at the top of the falls. The 'Caves' aren't much in the way of caves. Little alcoves, really. This is where Edward Tom fell off a cliff while looking for a place to camp in 2013. More switchbacks await above Spalding Falls. The trail will start to level off and give your legs a break as you approach the Morainal Camping Zone. Along the way you'll cross two drainages. The second drainage flows all summer long.

A second boulder field is close to the eastern end of the Morainal Camping Zone (10,800'). The camping zone runs along the north edge of the Middle Teton Glacier. You'll be on a south-facing slope as you approach the second boulder field. Above you to the north is the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides base camp (Corbet's High Camp) by Teepe Glacier. You're on a fairly straight & level path over rocky terrain as you approach some big boulders. This is where the trail disappears. For the record, no worries if you bypass the trail, blow over the rocks (or snow) and hike toward the headwall. You'll end up back on the trail at some point. Just avoid trampling any fragile vegetation. Nonetheless, it good to know the route. Continue west once you lose the trail. Shortly thereafter, look for a metal sign directly to your south that sits just above the south side of the drainage below you. This is where the trail restarts. You'll scramble down boulders and pass a large natural shelter to reach the sign. You'll be near the first camping area. The trail continues west and splits in a few locations to access camping sites which are hard to distinguish from the environment until you're upon them — they're are many camping sites. The slight ridge on the north edge of the Middle Teton Glacier will take you to the Lower Saddle's Bootpack & Fixed Rope.

They don't call it the moraines for no reason. In 2007, an avalanche of debris fell from the Stettner Couloir and cascaded across the Morainal Camping Zone and ran onto the Middle Teton Glacier. The dust cloud could be seen from the valley floor as rocks, some chest high, flew by. Two climbers took shelter behind a large boulder and survived. The only damage was to their tent and sleeping gear which they rushed out of upon hearing the noise.


~ The Lower Saddle & its Headwall ~

 Grand Teton's Lower Saddle

The Lower Saddle's headwall sits between two protruding rock bands (prows, buttresses). The Middle Teton is at the southern side of the saddle and the Grand is on the northern side. Climbers use a bootpack that runs across the face of the headwall to reach the top of the saddle. Climbers will switch over to a Fixed Rope on the northern side of the headwall when enough snow has melted off the saddle.

The summer trail takes you right to the Fixed Rope when free of snow. In 2012, the Fixed Rope was being used on July 1st, and you didn't need crampons or an ice axe on any part of the route. The situation was almost the same in 2013. In 2011, the Fixed Rope wasn't available until August. The rock that the Fixed Rope drapes is a moderate climb when dry but it can intimidate non-climbers. They rely on the rope too much and avoid using basic climbing skills. Guides belay clients at the Fixed Rope. This area is often icy in the morning.

There is a couloir on the north side of the headwall's northern rock band that leads to the Black Dike. It might save time off an ascent when it's filled with snow but it's not a very safe option given its location. The rock band itself has some terrible rock for climbing and a few terrain traps to waste your time, or entertain you, should you choose to climb it. You can also climb the Fixed Rope and head to the NW over a scree field when it's locked in snow.

The climber's trail directly above & below the Fixed Rope is more like several sloppy paths over eroded earth. It's a good place to twist an ankle. While it is possible to scramble in other directions to shorten the hike between the Fixed Rope and the Central Rib, this is frowned upon due to the delicate nature of the environment which doesn't need additional degradation. Additionally, you're more likely to send rocks toward other climbers if you go into areas above them. David Perlman sustained significant injury from rockfall while hiking from the Fixed Rope to the top of the Lower Saddle in 2012.

To reach the saddle's top from the Fixed Rope, you'll hike southish along a sloppy trail toward the Middle Teton until you're next to the toe of the Middle as it sits on the saddle. You'll see footpaths heading in that direction. Avoid any footpaths that don't take you closer to the toe. As you approach the toe, you'll pass just below the Lower Saddle's most eastern camping spot which is next to a big boulder. You'll then run into a well defined path heading west to the saddle's crest. The main water source for Upper Saddle visitors is in a very small drainage just to the south of this turn in the trail. You'll find a water hose there. A short distance to the west, you'll find a metal sign which is next to the trail and just south of that most eastern camping spot. Closer to the western side of the saddle, you'll find gear hangers to protect you gear from marmots should you wish to drop some weight. From there, follow the trail that runs up the saddle toward the Grand.

Do not count on using the 2 huts at the Lower Saddle for shelter. They are not public shelters but they sometimes accommodate climbers during lightning storms. Keep in mind that while natural shelters offer protection from rain and hail, they do not provide protection from lightning. The wind can push you sideways around the Lower Saddle. The wind dies down considerably as you leave the saddle for the Central Rib unless it's just one of those days where it's windy everywhere.

There's a 'rest stop' on the western side of the Lower Saddle that can be used for privacy but it is not an outhouse. You're now required to use a disposable zip-lock Mylar bag and pack stuff out from the saddle. You can bury waste 6-8 inches and 200' away from wetlands in less traveled areas of the park. Bags are available with a camping permit at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. Additionally, if you need to piss in the wind, do so on the western side of the saddle so you don't contaminate the water source for visitors or make the area more unpleasant for others. There is a camping spot on the western slope of the saddle so choose the location to relieve yourself carefully.

If there are no exposed rocks, a glissade down the Lower Saddle's headwall to the Middle Teton Glacier is a popular time saver early in the climbing season. Closely examine the glissade path for exposed rocks and fissures on your way up the mountain. Use the bootpack with an axe if you're uncertain about a safe glissade. The bootpack can become a sloppy mess so don't expect easy travels. In 2011, there were three GTNP rescues involving climbers and hikers who sustained significant injuries while glissading down a snowfield. Novice mountaineers may wish to wait until the snow is gone and the Fixed Rope is available before ascending the Grand.


~ Routes Between The Lower & Upper Saddle ~

Getting to the Upper Saddle is pretty simple. Just go up whatever you can safely ascend. There are many variations but I'll stick to the ones I consider the best when conditions are good.

From the Lower Saddle, head to the Needle which is the name for the mass of rock at the base of the Central Rib that looks like the tip of a needle when seen from below. The trail running up the Lower Saddle's north side splits with one footpath running along the western side of the crest. The other footpath is on the crest and that's the one I use. The black layer of exposed rock that crosses the Lower Saddle's crest is called the Black Dike and the hiking trail turns into a scramble as you pass it. You're aiming for the western side of the Needle. My personal preference is to head west (northwest) at the last reasonable opportunity to do so. Keep in mind that you're more likely to find ice as you leave the sun-baked Lower Saddle and that rockfall is more common in drainages and below other climbers.

You'll be nearing the Chockstone Chimney as you approach the most western part of the Needle. It's the first chimney to the east. You can go up the chimney or continue up the couloir and take another variation which we'll discuss shortly. If you're taking the chimney, scramble to its dead end, turn south, and take the ledge out of the chimney. The Eye of the Needle will be to your left (east-northeast) and it's a natural tunnel leading back toward the chimney that exits onto a ledge above the Chockstone's dead end. At the ledge's north end, you will be faced with a minor boulder problem called the 'Belly Roll Almost'. There is a small foothold below this obstacle that makes the climbing move fairly easy. The handholds are excellent. Most climbers miss the lower foothold because it's out of view and they end up climbing over the Belly Roll Almost. You could bypass the Eye of the Needle by climbing directly up the Chockstone's dead end if you want a slightly greater challenge. The Eye may be plugged with snow & ice early in the season. If there's a lot of snow, you can use the snow to climb over the tunnel.

Going up the Chockstone's lower section is easier than going down it. Just before you get to the more difficult lower part of the chimney on your way down, there's a Runners' Slab which presents itself at the first opening to the northwest. It's a toss up as to which variation (the lower chimney or the slab) is faster because people have different abilities and shoes. Most climbers bypass the Runners' Slab. A narrow ledge below the slab is a more common entry/exit point for climbers wishing to avoid the lower chimney but many non-climbers find it intimidating. If I'm taking others down the lower part of the chimney, I prefer to go first and spot them with my hands from below.

Guides often bypass the Chockstone Chimney altogether due to conditions or personal preference. The most popular variation is to use the Briggs Slab which is located just above the Chockstone's NE corner. For some, it's easier & safer. To reach the Briggs Slab, you'll head past the Chockstone Chimney & walk up the OS Couloir for a short distance. Turn east at the first chance to make an easy scramble in that direction. If there's no snow on the ground, you'll see the Mini Black Dike which is a narrow band of dark rock running up the slope toward the Central Rib's Bench. Follow it up the slope until you're near the headwall and then walk south toward the Briggs Slab & the top of the Chockstone Chimney. I scramble along the western & southern edge of the slab but you can also go straight up it. Guides belay clients on the slab. You'll end up on the Central Rib's Bench. The bench is just the elevated north-south slope above the couloir's drainage. Some people call this area 'The Stairs'.

There are several other ways to access the bench that are just to the north of the Briggs Slab. They vary by small degrees of difficulty. One of those variations is just south of the upper end of Mini Black Dike and I recommend it to extreme runners with good climbing skills. It is the fastest route if dry. At the very end of the dike there is variation that is usually approached from the north that will slow you down. Another variation is to climb some blocky rocks just north of the Briggs Slab. Climbers usually avoid the drainage below the bench because the conditions are often poor. Also, the drainage takes you too far up the slope if you're headed for the Upper Exum Ridge.

As you leave the Chockstone Chimney (or the Briggs Slab), continue north if you're heading for the Upper Saddle. You're going up as are all the broken footpaths. Choose the most comfortable path. Heading east will take you toward the Central Rib's ridgeline and the two crossovers to the Wall Street Couloir which are used to reach the Upper Exum Ridge. A Lower Crossover is right behind the Needle and an Upper Crossover is further up the Central Rib in an obvious saddle along the ridgeline. That saddle is very small.

Those climbing the Owen-Spalding route will be scrambling up the western side of Central Rib. You'll be on the bench above the couloir's drainage and below the Central Rib's ridgeline. Further up the slope and just before that drainage meets the top of the bench you can pick between two common route variations to reach the Upper Saddle. One takes the Upper Western Rib. The other takes the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney.

Before we continue. lets talk about naming conventions. The talus gully just west of the Central Rib is sometimes referred to as the Owen-Spalding Couloir. It has also been called the Central Rib Couloir; however, that name has also been used for the Wall Street Couloir which itself has been called the Exum Gully. The Owen-Spalding Couloir has also been called the Idaho Express but most people reserve that name for the most western couloir (Dartmouth Couloir) that drops you into Dartmouth Basin toward Idaho. Go figure. Additionally, there is another Black Rock Chimney on the north side of the Grand. And you can always find a Chockstone Chimney somewhere. I use the following nomenclature: 1) Dartmouth Couloir (Idaho Express) — most western couloir falling into Dartmouth Basin toward Idaho. 2) Owen-Spalding Couloir — first couloir west of the Central Rib & used by many climbers ascending the Owen-Spalding route. 3) Wall Street Couloir — first couloir west of the Exum Ridge & running by the entrance to Wall Street.

Let's get back to our ascent up the bench. Directly east of the point where the top of the Central Rib's Bench meets the couloir's drainage you'll find a short, & slightly blackish, western extension of the Central Rib that will force you to choose between scrambling to the Upper Western Rib / Owen-Spalding Couloir to your west or scrambling to the ridgeline of the Central Rib to your east. We'll examine the western option first.

I avoid the scree in the couloir's drainage unless conditions, or other circumstances, justify such actions. The footing is bad, rockfall is common, and better options are available. The slight ridge to the west — the Upper Western Rib — is used by many climbers including a few guides. There's a 'path' within the eastern face of the rib. It allows you to avoid the scree in the Owen-Spalding Couloir's drainage which climbers often kick loose and send down the slope. At the point where the top of the Upper Western Rib dissolves into the talus you can scramble over to the Central Rib and run along its western side until it too disappears into the slope. Head northeast to reach the Upper Saddle. Extreme mountain runners will probably find that this western variation is the fastest way up and down the slope. By the way, just above the Upper Western Rib is a natural shelter which can be used to wait out passing rainstorms.

Let's examine the other option that avoids the Upper Western Rib and takes you east to the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney via the slight western extension of the Central Rib. Remember, you're just east of the location where the top of the Central Rib's Bench meets the couloir's drainage. At this point you'll see a large west-facing slab of smooth vertical rock on the Central Rib to your right. That slab is next to the slight western extension of the Central Rib. You'll access the ridge by climbing a narrow and short access chimney that's just a yard or two north of that slab until a well-worn path within the western extension becomes visible. Follow it eastward toward the ridgeline. You'll turn north just below the ridgetop and scramble up the blackish rock. It's not the easiest route finding of your climb which is why many people end up taking the Upper Western-Rib. Follow the Black Rock Chimney along the path of least resistance. You'll be on the western side of the actual ridgetop for most of the ascent except for a short easterly opening of the Central Rib where the Black Rock Chimney ends. Within that short opening is a drainage heading southeast toward the Wall Street Couloir, and Wall Street itself is visible. Directly above that opening you'll be back on the western side of the rib until it almost disappears into the slope. At that point you'll head northeast to reach the Upper Saddle's western side.

The Black Rock Chimney usually melts out before the Upper Western Rib. Some of the rock is loose in this chimney. When the Central Rib is covered in snow it can be difficult to choose a safe footing. Climbing guide Jim Williams was injured and rescued in 2013 when his crampon got caught on ice after falling through snow during a descent of the Central Rib. Just a quick point about the climb down the Black Rock Chimney — continue all the way down the chimney until going any further would have you on the eastern side of the ridgeline. At that point, you should see a very obvious path to the west that takes you down to the short access chimney and the Central Rib's Bench.

Once you reach the Upper Saddle you'll want to get to the eastern side by the Main Rappel. You'll stay near the saddle's northern exposure & run up the crest or you'll take the less exposed southern variation as far east as you can go before turning north. Guides seem to favor the southern route. I like the northern variation because it's quicker for me and there's less loose rock. Don't be concerned about going one way or the other. You'll naturally end up on the southern side if you start the northern side and don't like it. Both variations are dangerous if you make a mistake. In 2014, Mary Bilyeu died while on a guided climb as she traversed along the southern side of the saddle directly above the Wall Street Couloir (AKA: Exum Gully). Apparently, she was by the 5ish boulder problem (stem move over flake) on the approach to the saddle's crest. Above it is extrememly sloppy scree - a slope of marbles. It can send you flying if you lose your footing. Directly south of the flake is a chute into the gully.

From the Upper Saddle, head to the northeast corner until you come face to face with the massive exposure and meet the Belly Roll which is a large boulder wedged into a narrow ledge or cleavage. This is where most climbing parties rope up. You'll pass by the Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle on your way to the Belly Roll. Keep in mind that falling rock is common directly below the Main Rap.

Let's go back down to the Lower Saddle for a moment. Had you mistakenly headed to the first chute on the eastern side of the Needle, you would have ended up in an area that doesn't provide any advantages over the traditional western route. The eastern approach is usually wet and you're in a terrain trap if there's falling rock. It is possible to follow the far eastern side of this area up & around to the Lower Crossover to Wall Street. A slab rises to the Central Rib's ridgeline and ends right below the Lower Crossover's location. If you're headed to the Upper Exum Ridge, you could try crack climbing over a rock wall to shorten your route but most climbers will want to avoid this area altogether. The same advice applies to the Wall Street Couloir below the Lower Crossover — avoid it.

While the routes I've suggested between the Lower & Upper Saddle are the safest, quickest, and easiest for me when conditions are good, they're obviously not your only option. Every rib and couloir has been used by climbers. The best variations aren't always obvious and the many broken footpaths can add to the confusion; nonetheless, all you really need to know is that you're going up.


~ The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Route ~

Technically speaking, the Owen-Spalding route starts at the Lower Saddle. Most climbers shimmy into a harness and break out the rope at the Upper Saddle. A 7-year-old Greta Jensen reached the summit on her third attempt in 2012 and currently holds the record for the youngest person to solo the Owen-Spalding ascent. The OS route is rated a 5.4 climb but poor conditions can inflate that number. Most of the winter ice burns off at some point during the summer; however, the route then cycles through all conditions with the changing weather — dry, wet, icy, dabs of snow or hail. Protected climbers often underdress for the weather conditions. Gloves and disposable hand warmers are cheap insurance to protect your hands. Many soloing climbers will reach the summit in under 30 minutes from the Upper Saddle — it's only 600 ft. or so — so they are less prone to suffer from the cold than protected parties that remain in the shade for longer periods.

The fantastic exposure begins at the Belly Roll which is on the northeast corner of the Upper Saddle. You'll tumble about a half mile if things go wrong between here and the Double Chimney. Since 2010, two climbers have made the jump. Brandon Oldenkamp was struck by lightning. No one knows what happened to the other climber, Don Ivie, who was soloing.

The Belly Roll, the Crawl, and the move into the second entrance of the Double Chimney are short sections along the same horizontal cleavage in the rock that are rarely a serious physical challenge for non-climbers when conditions are near their best. The exposure can be intimidating. It's a psychological crux for many. As was pointed out above, the Belly Roll is just a boulder stuck in the horizontal cleavage. After passing it, you'll be on a nice ledge that leads to the Crawl which is a narrow crawlspace with good holds. Right at the Crawl's northern end is the Double Chimney's first entrance. Soloers usually bypass it in favor of the second entrance about six feet further north. The second entrance is considered to be the easier way. It's common to find very icy conditions in this area so move cautiously.

Your skill set & conditions will often dictate how you manage the exposed areas but some options aren't always obvious. For example, climbers usually go over the Belly Roll but going under the Belly Roll is the preferred route for many soloers. The holds are very good. And small footholds outside the Crawl provide a quicker variation for those who don't mind the additional risk.

There are three common ways to move into the Double Chimney. You can use the first entrance which is considered to be the crux of the OS route should you choose it. It requires a pull-up move. You can go past the first entrance and access the second entrance of the Double Chimney via a hand-in-crack traverse with your feet on sloping rock. It's the most common move but it does have some friction footholds which occasionally cause trouble for climbers. And lastly, you can use a ledge directly below the hand-in-crack traverse and move into a position that's directly below the second entrance and then use very modest holds to move into the second entrance. Those holds directly below the second entrance are mostly friction so be extra careful when conditions aren't dry or your shoes aren't sticky. This area is the most dangerous location on the Owen-Spalding route.

Both entrances meet midway into the chimney. Once inside the very short Double Chimney, you can reach the top through the V-shaped wedge or the tunnel below it. I usually exit the Double Chimney from the open wedge but conditions sometimes make the tunnel the better option. Some climbers find the tunnel to be easier. Most climbers exit the open wedge to the north (directly above the tunnel exit) but a few will climb the eastern end of the open wedge.

For soloers on the descent, the hand-in-crack traverse is the most popular move. It can appear tricky because of the poor footholds directly below the second entrance. You will depend on your handholds to get started. There is the option of lowering yourself down the first entrance which is easier to descend than ascend. Most climbers consider the second entrance to be safer, quicker, and easier when conditions are good.

Before we focus on the route above the Double Chimney, let's examine the ledge running north of the Double Chimney's second entrance that provides access to the Great West Chimney (GWC). The access ledge looks like a bigger version of the Crawl and it is a continuation of the horizontal cleavage in the western exposure. While this isn't a part of the OS route, it is possible to bypass the Double Chimney by going around its north side via the GWC's access ledge. You're turning east before you actually get into the GWC and you'll head up to the southeast to reach the bottom of the Owen Chimney. It's an option for a few climbers.

The drainage of the GWC stays somewhat icy during the summer and an ascent is avoided by most climbers. The area by the Great West Chimney is also a semi-private place to empty the bladder that's just seconds away. Climbers on the north ridge of the Grand sometimes exit along the ledge leading to the Double Chimney so that's not always your best option. Climbers can also reach the GWC from the base of Sargent's by walking north along the wide shelf. The summit block is a very public place that's often crawling with climbers moving in all directions so there's always the chance that you will have company when you would rather not. Don't expect privacy in a safe place that's close by.

Let's get back to the climb. Once out of the Double Chimney, you'll have 2 options — the Catwalk or the Owen Chimney. The Owen Chimney will be directly in front of you. The Catwalk is just to your right, above you, and runs south. The Catwalk usually clears of ice before the Owen Chimney and it's a good option for many climbers because it's easier when dry. It's not always the safer option. I prefer an icy Owen Chimney over an icy Catwalk. A careful climber can get through the chimney under some fairly adverse conditions. Tall climbers will have an easier time. The Catwalk has fewer holds if it's really iced up. On average, during the peak of the summer climbing season (mid-July to mid-August) you'll find plenty of dry rock.

You have two variations for reaching the Catwalk after exiting the Double Chimney. You can scramble to the southeast once out of the chimney. This looks easier than it is but it's not too difficult under good conditions. The other option is to climb about 13 feet into the Owen Chimney and then exit at the first southern opening. From that opening, you'll be going around a boulder to access the Catwalk's very narrow northern tip. Going around the boulder and the northern tip can look intimidating to first-timers. It is a little daunting if it's icy. There's an old piton at the northern tip which may help climbers navigate icy conditions. The Catwalk takes you south toward the Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle. You'll be scrambling up to the southeast at the south end of the Catwalk to reach the rap's overlook. From there, it's a short northeast walk up to Sargent's Chimney.

If I am climbing up the Owen Chimney, I may take a minute or so to examine the Catwalk's condition in case I decide to use it on the way down. A spot in the northern half cycles through icy, wet, & dry conditions with the changing weather. That spot takes longer to dry because water from elsewhere flows over the rock at this location and it's slow to drain. As of 2013, an old piton could be found near the drainage over the Catwalk. It can come in handy if you run across a sheet of ice too big to jump across. You can climb down the complete Owen Chimney instead of using the Catwalk but non-climbers will find this more difficult.

Let's get back to the Owen Chimney if you aren't using the Catwalk. Just above that first opening in the Owen Chimney you'll find a small parallel crack to the south that can also be used to reach the base of Sargent's Chimney. Sometimes this lets you bypass other climbers. The crack is often too icy to navigate. I don't consider it to be any harder than the Owen Chimney when dry.

Some climbers consider the middle section of the Owen Chimney to be the crux of the route. You might find old pitons in the chimney near the trouble spots. The upper chimney turns into a short southeast scramble before topping out onto a fairly flat area right at the northern base of Sargent's Chimney. The flat area leads south toward the Main Rappel (turn west once you pass Sargent's) and, as was pointed out before, the flat area also leads north toward the Great West Chimney.

Again, Sargent's Chimney is the first chimney south of the Owen Chimney's top and it's just seconds away. It has a wide entrance and a big southern flank. From the south it looks like a massive buttress. It's hard to miss. Just before the chimney narrows in the topmost section, most climbers take a Hidden Exit (it's an alternate exit) to the northwest that's about two-thirds of the way up Sargent's. You can skip the Hidden Exit and climb to the rap sling at the chimney's top if conditions are good and you're comfortable doing so. Some climbers find this more difficult than the Hidden Exit but I don't see much difference under ideal conditions. Rockfall is common when other climbers are in the upper chimney.

Take a look around when you leave Sargent's Chimney. You'll want to remember your location for the climb down. If it's a high traffic day, you can simply follow everyone. Most climbers can figure out their location by looking at a route photo of the west face. A gap in the ridgeline lines up well with Sargent's Chimney when you draw an imaginary line between the gap and the peak on the opposite side of the Upper Saddle (The Enclosure).

Upon exiting Sargent's you'll be heading to the northeast to reach the summit. The easiest path is usually the correct path.  You'll pass to the north of 3 large blocks of rock called the Three Stooges. What looks to be the highest point on the ridge is actually just south of the summit. Continue to the northeast until a small wall of slabby rock comes into full view. It has a modest slope and a fairly easy crack running up its middle. At this point you can take the crack or scramble up an easy 'switchback' to the southeast and then walk back toward the northeast to reach the summit. There's a narrow ledge that runs just above the slabby wall. Above the slabs you'll walk to some boulders just below the ridge and climb to the summit.

That gap in the ridgeline that's perhaps 100' south of the summit is an east-west crossover point and it can be used to reach the summit with an eastern approach. This gap lets you avoid the boulders directly below the summit on the Owen-Spalding Route. You would dip around the eastern side of the ridgeline and head north along the most comfortable path to reach the summit. Under some conditions, or with weaker climbers (kids), this variation may be a better option. An eastern approach is typically used by climbers coming off the Exum Ridge.


~ The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Route ~

The south facing Upper Exum route feels more satisfying to climb than the Owen-Spalding. It offers several variations, more sunshine, and more climbing. A greater degree of agility on rock is required for those going solo on the Upper Exum when compared to the Owen-Spalding Route.  Soloing the Upper Exum and down-climbing the Owen-Spalding makes for a fine day in the Tetons. In 1958, 7-year-old Jeff Lowe climbed the Exum Ridge with his dad, Ralph.

The Upper Exum cleans up nicely and melts off before the Owen-Spalding route; however, both routes maintain pockets of ice all year long. Those pockets are usually tucked away and easily avoided. Keep in mind that verglas can form anywhere, anytime of year, and is easy to miss. Don't underestimate this hazard on the sunny ridgeline. Additionally, before starting the Upper Exum consider the weather conditions. The ridge is a nasty place to be in bad weather. Trying to safely retreat down the ridge may prove impossible without protection and it won't be done quickly. Over two dozen climbers have been rescued from lightning storms on the Grand Teton and some, like Erica Summers, don't make it off alive. Since 1948, there have been 10 known deaths from lightnng around the valley and many more injuries.

You need to reach the Wall Street shelf to access the Upper Exum Ridge. As with the Owen-Spalding route, you'll be heading toward the western side of the Central Rib's Needle and, most likely, heading up the Chockstone Chimney or taking the Briggs Slab to reach the Central Rib's bench. You're headed over the Central Rib's ridgeline and into the Wall Street Couloir. You can use a Lower Crossover or an Upper Crossover on the ridge. The Lower Crossover is just behind (north of) the Needle. The Upper Crossover is at the next obvious saddle up the Central Rib. If you head east after leaving the Chockstone Chimney or the Briggs Slab and you'll run into the Lower Crossover which looks like an upside-down snake's fang when seen from certain angles. Don't go down the large slabby area that dips gently to the eastern side of the Needle directly below the fang. See the section on the routes between the Lower & Upper Saddle for more information about this area.

I don't see much difference in either crossover but some climbers prefer the Upper Crossover because it's less confined and, one could argue, less exposed. The Lower Crossover seems faster. You'll be scrambling down the Central Rib's eastern side & across the talus in the Wall Street Couloir to reach the sloppy Wall Street Gully which leads to Wall Street. If you're climbing early in the season (June mostly), the Wall Street Couloir will be filled with ice and packed snow. It can be very difficult to get a good purchase with crampons in that couloir until it really starts to warm up.

Follow Wall Street's shelf toward its natural end at the Exum Ridge. You'll arrive at Wall Street's greatly exposed 'Step Across'. This is where the Lower Exum ridge meets the Upper Exum. There are two ways to get past the great exposure of the Step Across at the end of Wall Street. You can take the topmost ledge (a very narrow extension of Wall Street's massive shelf) or you can take the equally narrow lower ledge directly below it. You'll be working your way around a corner. Other than Glen Exum, most climbers do not 'step across' the chasm at Wall Street's end.

Many climbers prefer the very narrow lower ledge which has better handholds; however, once you turn the corner the ledge disappears and the footholds are rather slim. I consider it to be the safer option. Climbers with heavy packs may prefer it under all conditions because a pack may shift your center of gravity in an unfavorable way on the upper ledge. The upper ledge seems faster when the wind is calm and it's my preferred choice under ideal conditions. As I round the corner while on the upper ledge, I find that it's easier to be standing upright instead of using a modified lieback move where I'm bent over and pulling up on the bottom handhold but many others avoid my stance. Use whatever move feels best. You won't find solid handholds if you are standing upright while on the top ledge so that position is not safe if the wind is blowing.

The great exposure doesn't require fancy climbing moves but it does demand very careful climbing. There is no recovery from an error if you're soloing. You'll end up just below the Golden Stair once you get past the exposure. In 2013, Hannah Marshburn fell while on the Golden Stair and had to be rescued after sustaining facial injuries. You can also head a little further east (NE) & play in some cracks. The cracks are slightly harder. Take time to enjoy the view.

Many sections of the Upper Exum route will fall naturally into your selection process even if you don't know the exact route ahead of time. For the most part, if you're somewhere on the Exum ridgeline then you're on the route. Find any line you're comfortable climbing. There are plenty of variations on & off route. The Wind Tunnel is the only section that seriously deviates from the sunny ridgeline.

Just above the Golden Stair, there is an unmaintained 60' rappel back to Wall Street. You won't find any evidence of the rap unless a sling was left behind. You'll run into a minor boulder problem above there and then an easy scramble along the flattened ridge until there's nowhere else to go but east into the Wind Tunnel. The entrance is a big 'V' slot. You'll turn north at the first opening and climb some boulders in the Wind Tunnel Gully.

You're headed for the ridgeline which rises out of the gully. There are several variations for you to choose from once out of the gully. You will have access to the Friction-Pitch Bypass when the gully finally opens up on the eastern side — discussed later. The Jern Dihedral is near the center of the ridge and it almost lines up with the center of the gully. The southeast-facing Jern is the most common line to reach the Friction Pitch. It has a crackish chimney in its corner. You can access it from the east, west, or directly below. The Jern is the Climbing Ranger's moniker for the corner after climbing guide Ken Jern slipped on ice and fell 50 ft. down its face. You can watch Ken point out the location in this great soloing video.

The Friction-Pitch Bypass Chimney is in a chute to the east of the ridgeline. It's a nice variation that allows you to bypass the Jern & the Friction Pitch. The chimney is on the eastern side of the chute. The Puff-N-Grunt dihedral is on the opposing side. As mentioned previously, you would have passed through the first eastern opening at the top of the Wind Tunnel Gully to access the bypass. This is the commonly suggested route for 'non-climbers' who wish to be on the Exum Ridge but avoid the Friction Pitch. The chimney may be easier to navigate than the Friction Pitch & Jern but it still has its own hazards like loose rock. The best line within the chimney isn't always obvious so don't be surprised to find yourself backtracking a short distance to get a better line. Snow and ice cover the bypass early in the season. The bypass is going to be quicker than the Jern/FP combo.

You can also use a western chimney to access the Friction Pitch and bypass the Jern. You might find an old cam stuck in the rock at an obvious exit point near the middle of the chimney. From there, a short 5.6ish move will have you at the base of the Friction Pitch on a nice belay ledge.

For the Friction Pitch, free-soloing climbers should carefully consider all their options before running up the first line that looks good. You may end up in a terrain trap that's rather unforgiving. It's a tricky place to be soloing if conditions are poor. Most climbers take advantage of two knobby holds several feet west of the eastern crest. There's also a vaginal line that's just above the exit from the Jern. Other lines are available but less popular. Carefully examine a line's profile from the east or west to see possible holds. Obviously, you'll be happier and safer with sticky climbing shoes but most climbers search for a proper handhold to move past the crux. Trusting a friction foothold is difficult. Your hand placement and body position might make up for any deficiencies in footwear. Two moves usually gets you by the crux which ends on a small ledge. You may find old pro to clip into at the west end of that ledge. The Friction Pitch continues up the slope with better holds. Watch a video of a climber slipping on the eastern crest of the Friction Pitch.

You can spot the V-Pitch once you enter the gully above the Friction Pitch. After scrambling a good distance above the Friction Pitch, you'll climb past a notch in the ridgeline and continue up the slope until you reach the V-Pitch (or 'Open Book') on the western crest of the ridgeline. The dihedral is similar to the Jern but with greater exposure. The V-Pitch is out of view if you're to the east of it. You should notice a flat opening along the crest to access its base. No worries if you miss it. There's a very easy crack that parallels the V-Pitch just to the east. You can also use the Unsoeld Lieback which runs along the top of the V-Pitch's eastern wall. Early in the season (June mostly, possibly early July), snow may cover the approach & the V-Pitch may be plugged with ice. The snow is usually firm enough for a safe bootpack in the morning.

Much further east of the V-Pitch, you'll find another crack leading to the eastern side of the summit's ridgeline that's closer to the Ford Couloir's drainage. An eastern approach from here is not recommended but it is possible. If you have very sticky climbing shoes, you could also access that eastern side from just above the V-Pitch by going around & under the ridgeline's prow.

Just out of the V-Pitch to the northwest will be a series of ledges that are used to quickly escape the Upper Exum during emergencies. You will be descending an easy northwest path toward the Main Rappel. The buttress-like feature that stands out from the rest of the summit block is the 'backside' of Sargent's Chimney and you'll end up just below Sargent's to access the rappel area. If you can't rappel to the Upper Saddle, you can head down the Owen-Spalding's Catwalk, etc., to reach the Upper Saddle. You would scramble to the northwest from the Main Rappel's overlook to reach the Catwalk and then walk toward the bottom 13 feet of the Owen Chimney. Directly below there, is the Double Chimney and then the great exposure past the Crawl & the Belly Roll. I would rather be below the Upper Saddle during a storm than on the summit block above. There are other escape routes off the Upper Exum but they require protection for most climbers.

Let's continue our climb above the V-Pitch. The most common route is the short West-Leaning Chimney directly in front of you on the western side of the ridgeline and in a small depression. The approach dips down into an area that may be icy and the chimney is a slight body twister. Above this chimney, head east and then northeast toward a boulder with an L-shaped notch. Once there, you can head east for the Boulder Problem in the Sky (the ridgeline) or you can dip down into a gully and then back out on the other side to make an easy scramble to the ridgeline. If you end up in a tight spot, just backtrack and head in another direction. The BPITS has only one challenging section at its southern end where you climb a very short crackish line leaning to the west. After the BPITS, most climbers scramble over to the eastern side of the ridgeline and avoid the northern part of the knife-edged ridgetop (the 'Horse') which is just south of the summit. In other words, they aren't on the top of the ridgeline as they approach the summit. You can also cross over to the western side and make an approach on the last 100' of the Owen-Spalding Route. Once past the Horse, you can scramble up to the summit and enjoy the view. To get off the summit, continue reading the next section. You should also read the section about the OS route.


~ The Rappel To The Upper Saddle ~

Except for soloers, just about everybody climbs down a portion of the Owen-Spalding route and heads to the "40 meter" rappel to the Upper Saddle to get off the upper summit block. The chances are high that you can follow other climbers off the summit during the peak climbing season but be prepared to find you own way by examining a route photo. A written discription of the route to Sargent's Chimney follows but it's best to look at a route photo first.

From the summit, you're eventually headed to the southwest. Many climbers will head to the south from the summit for a very short distance and then turn toward the northwest to get down the boulders. You will scramble to the south-southwest as soon as you have access to an area you can easily walk over when it's free of snow. You should see two 'gunsights' (small gaps in rock) that are next to one another. Walk through one of those gaps and continue to the south-southwest. You're looking for a small ledge above the slabby wall (the wall's below you). The ledge is below the false summit directly above you. You should be nearing a point below the southern half of false summit. You'll walk down the ledge and make a short scramble once past it. You'll make your way through another very small and tight gunsight and then turn toward the northwest as soon as it's easy to do so. Follow a 'switchback' north-northwest to a point directly below the slabby wall. The big crack in the wall points you toward the way down to Sargent's Chimney. Follow the path of least resistance. When the scramble down starts to become, or look, much more difficult then you will probably find Sargent's Chimney to your south. The Three Stooges should be above you - not right next to you, however. Sargent's lines up closer to the southern Stooge.

The Main Rappel is a short walk to the west-southwest once out of Sargent's Chimney. If you head for the most western prominence that looks like a fat diving board (maybe 15 feet wide?) then you'll be at the Main Rappel's Overlook. It's an easy walk. The rappel is just to its southeast. The OS's Catwalk is northwest of the overlook and you'll have to scramble down some easy rock to reach it if you're headed in that direction.

The bolted rap rings have an attached tag that says "40m" and that probably represents the longest possible drop. The landing zone slopes downhill to the north so a southern descent will be shorter. There is a maintained sling a few feet to the south of the bolted rap rings. The sling is usually well maintained and replaced as needed. If you move a little to the south while rappelling down (not into the dark chimney), you'll be landing on the higher end of the Upper Saddle's slope. With rope stretch you might get by with a dynamic 60m rope if you use the rap ring on the sling instead of the bolted rap rings. Move cautiously around the rappel areas so as to avoid kicking loose rocks on unsuspecting climbers below. The rap's measurements are said to vary between 100 and 130 ft. 120 ft. has been published as has "30m+". 60 meters is 196.85ft. 30m = 98.42ft.

There is alternate rap area that can be used with a shorter rope and 2 setups. It's just to the south, and just above, the Main Rap (maybe 30 ft. away?). The published length is 70 ft. (21.34m) for each setup (setup to setup & setup to saddle). There is a greater potential for rockfall by the alternate rappel area and the staging areas are funky when compared to the outstanding departure site at the Main Rappel. The alternate raps are not properly maintained so be sure to have your own sling and rap ring. You will probably find old rings and slings but as with all unmaintained gear, you should only trust what you know. Ice can also linger at the 2X70 raps.

You can access this 2X70' rap in two ways. 1) Scramble up the short chimney directly above the sling at the Main Rappel station (just to the south of the bolted chain). Take the first ledge south to the single-rope rappel station. The rap slings are out of sight until you're upon them. 2) The other option is to scramble above the Main Rappel area (closer to Sargent's) until you're just south of it and then scramble down to the last ledge. Then head south toward the secondary rappel station. You may be able to avoid the first setup of the alternate rappel and scramble directly to the second setup through an tightly angled chimney. I've done it several times but it's not pretty.

It's not unusual to be offered a rap from another climber. For most soloers, down-climbing is faster than waiting for a rappel assuming conditions are good & you know the route. From the rap area, you can take the Catwalk to the bottom of the Owen Chimney. You'll go down the Double Chimney and past the great exposure to reach the Upper Saddle. Ice can make the Catwalk impassable so be prepared to use the entire Owen Chimney to reach the Double Chimney. The Catwalk should be faster and safer when dry.

Remember to stay close to the west side of the Central Rib on your way down from the Upper Saddle. The rock here is easier to navigate and more stable than the scree in the middle of the couloir. Once you get closer to the smaller Upper Western Rib, you can run down its eastern face to reach the Central Rib's Bench; or, you can continue down the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney which starts just past an opening in the Central Rib that drains into the Wall Street Couloir.


~ The Route With Early-Season Snow ~

Early-season snow conditions can change very quickly from easy traversing to dangerously sloppy. There is no time of day when the snow is easier and safer to navigate but the snow should be the most stable before it sees the morning sun. Soft snow that grabs your foot and forms a protective depression but which doesn't let you slide will be safer than snow that's hard & icy or slick & sloppy. Careful climbers may get by with hiking poles and good boots to kick steps in the snowpack but their self-arrest options are limited should they slip so an axe is highly recommended under all snow conditions. Crampons are useful in June when crossing rock-hard snow or ice. GTNP recommends ice axes for safe passage over all divides and passes until around the third week of July. If it's a heavy snow year, an axe may be warranted into August and crampons may prove useful past June.

The Owen-Spalding & Upper Exum climbing routes will clear of heavy snow before the approach below the Lower Saddle does. By July, some ice lingers on the summit block but you will probably climb without crampons or an axe above the Lower Saddle. Of course, before you get started you should always consult with other climbers about the need for climbing aids on any part of the route because conditions vary year-to-year.

If the snow really piled up during the winter (or you're climbing early in the season), the summer climber's trail that runs to the north of Petzoldt's Caves & Spalding Falls in Garnet Canyon may be buried in snow. The best route under these conditions is usually a bootpack up the Meadows' headwall that runs below the Middle Teton's northeast face and then a hike over a snow field & the Middle Teton Glacier to reach the other bootpack at the Lower Saddle's headwall. The direct route to the Lower Saddle over snow can be a real time saver with appropriate conditions. The Meadows is the name for the meadow in Garnet Canyon that's below Spalding Falls and it's also the name for the camping area in the same location. Do not confuse it with Lupine Meadows.

The afternoon hike down the snow-covered Meadows' headwall can be very sketchy. Snow conditions underfoot are often unstable. Rocks tend to hide just under the snow surface at lower elevations so glissading isn't always a good option early in the season. It's not unusual to see rocks, or mattress-sized slabs of snow, flying off slopes as the environment warms up and unlocks its grip on everything. Avoid drainages where water undercuts snow. Snow may become unstable, or open a void, along the edges of exposed rock so tread carefully.

The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers usually post a blog update when they think the summer climber's trail by Spalding Falls should be used. The trail is on the north side of the stream flowing from Spalding Falls and some lingering snow fields may cover parts of it even after the Rangers announce the changeover.


~ Weather ~

This is the Fed's weather forecast for the Grand Teton area (7.5 miles NW of Moose, WY 83012). The National Weather Service also has a recreational forecast for the summit during the summer. Here's the hour-by-hour forecast for precipitation, etc. Sadly, the weatherman is often wrong and it's difficult to predict weather for a few square miles in the Teton Range unless a large weather system is moving in. I often decide to go climbing even with a bad weather report and see how things develop in the field. I have the advantage of knowing exactly how long it takes me to move around the Tetons but one never really knows how long it will take the weather to move around the Tetons. That storm in the distance can pick up speed as it nears the mountains and storm clouds can develop "out of the blue", literally, over the Teton Range. Afternoon thunderstorms are common. Many blow out as quickly as they blow in. You can wait for those storms to pass if you're in a safe location and continue climbing when conditions improve.

There is a weather station atop the Lower Saddle that records wind speed & temperature data during the summer. Our local website for mountain weather has a nice Lightning PDF & blog post about reading clouds and how to stay safe. They also have a real-time Lightning Map that shows incoming threats. You may wish to check the phase of the moon, & upcoming sky events before your climb.

It's best to check forecasts the morning of the climb. You can call 1-800-211-1448. Ask the person for the weather conditions near the Grand Teton. Or call the GTNP weather line: 307.739.3611. With a smart phone, you might be able to examine the weather radar if you're above the Lower Saddle. Free internet access & weather information is available at the Moose Visitor Center. Weather forecasts are also available at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. As mentioned before, the average low temperature at the valley floor during July & August is close to 40°F. The avg. high temp is about 79°F. The summit temperatures can get above 60°F on very hot days. As for wind, if it's blowing hard, it tends to be the worst around the Lower Saddle and slows noticeably as you approach the Central Rib.

The summit block is a lightning rod. In 2010, 17 people decided to climb this mountain while dark clouds filled the morning sky. The result was the largest search & rescue operation in the park's history. Lightning killed Erica Summers while she was on the Friction Pitch in 2003 and it seriously injured five others. Learn from their mistakes.

If the weatherman is talking about low-pressure, cold fronts, & moisture, you should reconsider your climbing plans. If storm clouds are building, you should retreat to a safer location until the threat passes. Spread your group out if caught in a storm and stay away from ridgelines. Remove jewelry and other metal objects. If you must rope up to prevent a fall, try binding the rope to your belay loop without a carabineer. At the very least keep the carabineer from resting on your body. Rope is not a great conductor but it will carry a charge just like Ben Franklin's kite string. Even though most people survive a lightning strike, over 70% have permanent disabilities. The forces are similar to an IED blast and peak temperatures can reach 50,000°F. With or without lightning, climbing in the rain is a bad idea.

Fog can quickly freeze to rock and make it impossible to safely navigate the mountain if you are soloing. Additionally, thick fog can make route finding difficult and hide incoming weather. Be cognizant of the direction that temperatures are moving under foggy (or wet) conditions. Generally speaking, the temperature drops 3.3°F on cloudy days per 1000' in elevation gain and drops 5.4°F on sunny dry days. The National Weather Service almost always predicts a temperature difference of 8°F between the Summit and the Lower Saddle regardless of the weather during the summer. Of course, the temperature can change dramatically as a cold front, bad weather, or evening darkness moves over the area.

The Lower Saddle's weather station will display the wet bulb temperature and the dew point. The dew point is the temperature that the air needs to cool down to in order to achieve 100% saturation. It's the temperature at which fog, dew, or frost can form. When the dry bulb temperature (your thermometer reading) reaches the dew point, there's 100% relative humidity. If the wet bulb temperature is 32°F then snow is possible at that elevation. Snow levels can be 1000' lower than freezing levels. On June 30th, 2013, the Lower Saddle's temperature was 46.4°F at 1 a.m., the dew point was 34.9°F so the air wasn't 100% saturated, the wet bulb was 40.0°F so there was no chance of snow, and the relative humidity was 64%. FYI: It was 62.2°F at noon on the saddle the previous day (June 29th) and above 50°F on the summit.

~ Weather Forecasts ~

Summit Forecast for the Grand Teton (summer only)
NWS 7-Day Point Forecast near the Grand Teton
The above point forecast is near the GT but
the "Current Conditions" are for Jackson.
See location at
43.74N 110.79W Elev. 11598 ft.
NWS HOURLY Forecast near the Grand Teton
NWS Interactive Forecast Map (Beta)
WeatherSpark Forecast Map
Weather Underground JH Forecast & Temp Map
NWS Interactive GTNP - YNP Weather Map Links
NWS 7-Day Jackson Hole Forecast Forecast

NWS Weather Radio
for Jackson can be found at
162.525 MHz on the VHF Frequency Band.

Be sure to read any Watches, Warnings, Advisories,
 or Hazardous Weather Outlook messages.

~ Weather Observations ~

Lower Saddle Weather Station (summer only)
Weather Access Map from
JH Airport Observations
Driggs, ID Airport Observations
MESONET Observations Map JH Observations
The Weather Underground has an outstanding
summary of weather data for Jackson Hole.
Teton County Weather Stations
JH Historical Averages
JH Lightning Map (US)
 US Wind Map

~ Radar / Satellite ~

NWS's US Radar Loop Map
US Satellite Visible Loop
US Temps Radar Sat Map
Localized Radar Map (ID)
Northern Rockies Radar
Localized Radar Map (WY)
Western US Loop Sat/Rad
US Surface Maps & Observations
Google Weather Hazards Map
Intellicast Weather Map

~ Telephone Numbers for Weather ~

NOAA: 1-800-211-1448  (Ask for the weather near the Grand Teton)
GTNP Weather Line: 307.739.3611

~ Weather Education ~

NOAA's Online School for Weather


~ Fire & Earthquake Information ~

Natural & prescribed forest fires can limit your view, make breathing difficult, and seriously dampen the pleasure that comes from camping, hiking, and climbing in the Teton Range.

Teton Interagency Fire
InciWeb Fire Site - Western US
Fire & Your Health 
US Active Fire Map
Large Map US Wildfire Activity & Wind 
The GTNP Air Quality website.
BTNF Twitter Feed
USGS Recent Earthquake Map for WY, etc.
Snow King Seismograph (X Teton Pass X)
USGS's 'Did You Feel It?'


~ Conditions ~

Grand Teton Route Conditions - JLCR
Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers
Call at 307.739.3343, 8-5pm MST during the peak of the summer.

The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers' blog is not always up-to-date but it's a good starting point for those interested in current conditions. You can also stop by the South Jenny Lake ranger cabin and speak with a ranger. The best source of information will always be a climber coming off the mountain. You'll usually get good information somewhere along the trail or at the trailhead. Opinions about the route, and its conditions, can vary greatly from one climber to the next because people have different skills and comfort levels so take all information with a grain of salt. Additional resources include local climbing shops, the Climbers' Ranch in GTNP, and social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You're looking for a baseline assessment because conditions can change quickly. If it rained overnight, yesterday's perfect conditions could turn into icy conditions the following morning but clear up as temperatures rise.

Afternoon summits are nice. The guides are off the mountain. There are fewer people on the summit. Warmer temperatures may melt icy spots. Wind speeds may decrease as temperatures stabilize. You don't need that extra layer of early-morning clothing. You can pack light & travel fast. You can sleep in. I can't tell you how many times I've been hiking up the climbers' trail and finding climbers bailing because of poor weather & conditions which disappear by the time I arrive at the Lower Saddle.

Great climbing conditions can start in mid-June and extended into mid-October. The climbers' trail was in great shape on July 4th, 2013 and the Fixed Rope was available. Some years it's August before everything dries out below the Lower Saddle. Once Mt. Glory above Teton Pass has completely burned off then it's likely the summer climbers' trail is free of snow and the Lower Saddle's Fixed Rope is available or close to being available. Generally speaking, you'll find the best conditions in late July and early August so it tends to be a good time for a novice to attempt the Grand. During that time period the days are still long and the temperatures are still warm. On the flip side, thunderstorms & natural forest fires are more common in August. In 2012, it was hard to find a summer raindrop. On the other hand, we had smoky skies from forest fires burning throughout the West. In 2013, we had plenty of sprinkles and fewer fires.

Conditions can change rapidly as you head into September so you'll need a flexible climbing window when soloing in September & October. You'll have fewer hours of sunlight and cooler temperatures. Poor conditions tend to improve fairly quickly if the summit block is above 40 degrees. Even with temperatures below freezing, verglas can burn off the summit block if the weather is dry and sunny. We stop soloing once a quick ascent becomes difficult to accomplish safely. A few others will use ice tools and summit throughout the fall. Very few people climb in the winter but skiers climb the couloirs to the east of the Exum Ridge to reach the summit when conditions permit.

Late-spring snow storms can greatly increase the chances of an avalanche and new snow can hide dangers just under the surface. Check with the Climbing Rangers (307.739.3343) if you're uncertain about the avalanche threat level which can fluctuate throughout June under some situations. Usually it's just falling blocks of snow, slippery snow, and collapsing snow that you need to worry about in June.



Stay off the summit block in bad weather.
Don't get Summit Fever and make bad choices.
Altitude Sickness is common.
Ice is a serious danger all year long.
Falling rock is common.
Lightning is common.
Dangerous wind gusts are common.
Low temperatures are common.
Wet rock is common.
Unstable snow underfoot is common.
Slips are very common.
Injuries are common.
Bears are someplace.
Avalanches are possible.
Falling snow slabs are possible.
Falling ice is possible.
Freezing fog is possible.
Freezing rain is possible.
Death is possible.

Plenty of people are on the mountain during the peak climbing season. The Climbing Rangers may be slow to respond to life threatening emergencies so appreciate those slow moving climbers ahead of you. Regardless of ability, climbers make mistakes. Many get caught in uncontrollable events like rockfall. This happens every year. Even those on guided climbs need to be looking out for their own safety. Guides make mistakes and they can't control the environment. Protection is popular for a reason.

In other areas of the park, Eric Tietze fell to his death on July 12, 2012, only to be followed ten days later by Justin Harold Beldin. Many egregious examples of stupidity, including those resulting in death, have unraveled on the Grand Teton. The Park Services does not charge climbers for a rescue but they might fine you if you do something to endanger others even if it wasn't your intent. Here's a rescue video of the rangers in action below the Grand Teton.

This mountain provides ample solid holds but don't become complacent and assume the next hold is secure. Also, if you dislodge rock, let others know — "ROCK!". Better yet, don't cause rockfall. As you might expect, climbers are more likely to cause rockfall in the gullies, chimneys, and by the rap areas.

Assuming you see it, ice is easily avoided (or managed) when conditions are good. It can be difficult to quickly recognize verglas. Pockets of ice stay on the Grand all year long and new ice can form throughout the summer. And as mentioned above, fog and rain can quickly freeze to rocks under the right conditions and make safe passage impossible for soloers. Freeze & thaw cycles and heavy runoff can trigger additional rockfall. Wet rock is almost as dangerous as icy rock. Slips and falls on snow are the most common cause of injuries in the Tetons.

Be cognizant of your body's natural limits before testing them on the Grand Teton. For example, you may quickly lose the strength needed to change your position if you're lingering in one spot while your arms are supporting weight; and then, you will probably lose your grip and fall. While that isn't a concern for most climbers on the routes covered here, it could be for some individuals due to age, fitness level, climbing line, or technique. For maximum safety, use protection.

Take the time to acclimate if you spend most of your time at lower elevations. Altitude sickness is common for unacclimatized climbers. At 14,000 ft. the air has about 43% less oxygen than at sea level for the same volume of air. Prescription Diamox may help prevent AMS. It can take several trips up the Grand before locals no longer feel the altitude's effects.

Many climbers misjudge just how cold the summit block can be and leave gloves or jackets behind. Since soloers are constantly moving, they tend to better manage the cold than climbers on the belay train. Summit temperatures can reach into the 60's on the warmest days but they can dip well below freezing on the coldest mornings. You may need winter clothing. I use disposable hand warmers when summit temperatures plunge. They are lifesavers. A mini thermometer comes in handy if it's foggy or raining and you're concerned about ice forming.

Take sun glasses and sun screen. The sun will hammer you from all angles especially when travelling over snow. There is less atmosphere to filter out ultraviolet rays. Hat that don't fit snuggly may blow off the summit block. Bug spray is needed early in the season especially by Lupine Meadows. A basic First Aid Kit may prove useful.

It's a good idea to use a helmet and most people do. It's a personal choice. The mountain is littered with fallen rock and minor slips resulting in head injuries are possible. Avoid the scree chutes, be careful below other climbers, and stick close to ridgelines when feasible. Take a headlamp with fresh batteries if you're uncertain about your ability to get back down in a timely manner. Hiking poles are popular on the approach to the Lower Saddle and some climbers use them as a substitute for an ice axe to provide stability over early-season snow slopes. You can self-arrest with poles on some snow slopes but use an axe for maximum safety. An axe can also clean holds.

Phone reception above the Lower Saddle is available in a few spots. Move around to find the strongest signal. People make calls from the summit. Reception below the Lower Saddle is difficult if not impossible until you are out of Garnet Canyon. Some text messages will go out when a phone call will not. Add this number to your contacts' list — GTNP Emergency Dispatch: 307.739.3301. Unfortunately, they can't receive text messages.

Blister-pack FRS/GMRS two-way radios are popular with climbing parties using protection. The wind can make it impossible for others to hear you at the end of a 60 meter rope. A dual-band programmable 2-way radio might be able to communicate with the outside world during emergencies. Some boats at Jackson Lake monitor the marine distress channel. An aviation radio may reach pilots or the airport control tower. Satellite devices like SPOT, InReach, or an Iridium Extreme Sat Phone may be the difference between life and death in an emergency. They are highly recommended and they should be your first choice for emergency communications in the backcountry. On the popular routes, you're unlikely to be far from other climbers but you may be hours away from emergency care.

Local VHF Radio Frequencies (MHz)

~ These frequencies haven't been confirmed. ~
It's unlikely that a broadcast from Garnet Canyon will reach anyone on
these channels but they may prove useful in other areas of the park.

Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) Control Tower: 118.075
Listen Live JAC
JAC Ground: 124.550
JAC CTAF: 118.075
JAC UNICOM: 122.95
Driggs Airport - western side of Tetons - has no tower.
Marine Distress Channel: 156.8
Mutual Aid: 154.875
Teton County Search & Rescue
: 155.22, Tx/Rx Tone 100.0
The agencies below use Rx/Tx tone codes.
Tone codes can be found elsewhere.
Teton Dispatch GTNP Repeater
Rx: 171.675, Tx: 172.425
Bridger-Teton National Forest
N Rx:
169.125 / N Tx: 171.3875
Tx: 169.9, W Rx: 166.225
Targhee National Forest:: 169.175
Yellowstone NP: 163.1 / S 165.5875 / 168.35
TCSO Dispatch: 155.415

~ Weather ~
NOAA Jackson Weather Radio: 162.525
NOAA Map of Jackson Coverage Area (PDF)
NOAA Yellowstone Weather Radio: 162.45

Jackson Hole Area Amateur Radio Club
Teton Amateur Radio Repeater Association

~ Frequency Ranges ~
Aviation 118.000 - 136.975 MHz
Marine: 156 - 162.025 MHz
Weather: 162.400 - 162.550 MHz
Some local repeaters are in the UHF band.


 ~ Clothing ~

It's not uncommon to see runners with just their shoes, T-shirt, & shorts headed up the Grand. Unlike most climbers, they expect to have a round-trip under 6 hours. The weather can be bitter cold on the summit block so climbers need to carefully assess their own needs.

Trail shoes made for mountain running work fine when the trail is dry but most lack ankle support. Approach shoes which are specifically made for scrambling over rock work well on these two routes. Technical climbing boots often fall short on friction slopes but they handle the early-seaon snow slopes very well. Some climbers pack a pair of super-sticky rock shoes to better handle friction sections. Heavy shoes will slow you down. Sore feet can ruin a trip and shoes without good traction won't cut it; so, choose carefully. I've used hunting boots more often than not. You can rent approach shoes at Moosely Mountaineering in GTNP. An extra pair of shoe laces can serve several purposes. Pack light on a warm day and you'll have more fun.


~ Select  2013  Trip Reports ~

The OS is rated a 5.4 & the UXM a 5.5
June 16th Conditions OS
June 23rd Conditions UXM & OS
June 30th Conditions UXM
July 4th Conditions OS
July 14th Conditions UXM & OS
August 4th Conditions OS
August 11th Conditions UXM
September 14th Conditions UXM
September 21st Conditions OS
October 26th Conditions OS

Marked-up Grand Teton Climbing Route photos
are available at and the
Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers have
a very nice photo album of routes in the
Teton Range. One day they will put it online,
or perhaps not — it is the government.

Other Trip Reports
"Light & Fast on the Grand Teton"
is a nice free-soloing blog post from  Owen-Spalding via Catwalk  Owen-Spalding via Owen Chimney  Upper Exum  Upper Exum  Upper Exum Route
Greta Jensen's 2012 Grand Adventure
Grand Teton Links & Stats
Overview Map of OS & UXM Routes
GTNP Peaks
Grand Traverse  Pataclimb .com
Outside Mag  2012 Grand Traverse
Alpinist Magazine (#33) profiles The Grand Teton
Google Upper Exum
Google Owen-Spalding

 Mark P Thomas has some of the best Teton Trip
 Reports on the web. Check these out:
Teton Grand Slam & Lower Exum TR

Crazy Trip Reports
Add a bike ride, a few beers, and a swim across Jenny Lake and you'll have the Jackson Hole Triathlon.


~ Virtual Tours ~

Garnet Canyon Trail
Garnet Canyon's Meadows
Overlooking the Morainal Camping Zone
The Lower Saddle
The Upper Saddle
The Enclosure Summit
Middle Teton Summit
Grand Teton Summit
Classic Grand Teton Climbing Video
Upper Exum Soloing Video
Owen-Spalding Video
 YouTube & Vimeo
Teton Climbing Videos


~ The Guide Books ~

The first two books should open up in your browser for limited reading.
A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range 'The Bible' Amazon
Teton Classics: 50 Selected Climbs in Grand Teton National Park  - Amazon
Teton Rock Climbs: A Select Guide to the Teton Range's Best Alpine Routes
 Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone (out of print but PDF is $25)
All books are available at the Teton County Library.
Find books at your library.


~ Fastest Known Grand Teton Round-Trip Times (FKT) ~

~ Grand Teton's OS Route FKT ~

Bryce Thatcher (Video) 3:06
Kilian Jornet  2:54:01
Andy Anderson 2:53:02
Woman's record
 Emilie Forsberg 3:51

Note: Kilian & Emilie ran together on Emilie's record time.

 Kilian's Movescount Data & NYT Story & Wiki
Salomon GT Video of Kilian, Emilie, & Anton Krupicka
Anton Krupicka's GT Video of him & Kilian Jornet
 Short clip from Emilie's record run. Inside the Chockstone Chimney

~ Grand Traverse FKT ~

Rolando Garibotti 6:49
Woman's record
Kim Csizmazia 12:26

: Rolando & Kim ran together on Kim's record time.

Map of the Grand Traverse

The distance to the top of the Grand Teton via the OS route was estimated to be 7.7 miles from the Lupine Meadows trailhead with a gain of about 7000 ft. (1.3 miles). The 7.7 miles is often disputed. Kilian's GPS watch recorded a 12 mile round-trip with shortcuts. Google Earth pegs the round-trip near 13.8 miles.

On the Grand Traverse, Rolando has the overall elevation gain near 12,000 feet and a distance near 14 miles. An Outside Magazine story has a "total elevation change of more than 20,000 feet" and a distance near 14 miles. The distance should be greater than the round-trip distance of the OS route. The level of climbing difficulty ranges up to 5.8 on the Grand Traverse (YDS class). 


~ Can I climb the Grand Teton? ~

The young and old successfully summit the Grand Teton. 80-year-old Bob Riggs reached the summit in 2007 via the Owen-Spalding route. Between 1956 & 1958, Jeff Lowe (age 7), Greg Lowe (age 8), and Mike Lowe (age 10) all climbed the Exum Ridge with their father Ralph. Peter Eubank, at age 6, climbed the OS with his dad and two sisters in 2011. A 7-year-old Greta Jensen reached the summit on her third attempt in 2012 and currently holds the record for the youngest person to free-solo the Owen-Spalding ascent. Beo Charette, age 6, climbed the Exum Ridge with his mom and sister in 2014. 15-year-old Sasha Johnstone climbed the couloirs east of the Exum Ridge & skied off the summit in 2014. An out-of-shape Geraldine Lucas reached the top in 1924 at the age of 58. She was the first local woman to summit (2nd woman to summit). 51-year-old Nancy Stevens became the first blind woman to summit in 2012 (2nd blind person). Disabled veterans like Chad Jukes reach the summit with prosthetic legs. The Boy Scouts find their way to the top. Of course, many climbers don't summit and most young children should not be climbing the Grand. Only a small percentage of climbers solo or attempt a round-trip in one afternoon.

For reference, I consider the Exhibition ski run on Jackson's Snow King Mountain an easy 30 minute uphill hike (0.6 mph). 23 minutes just about kills me (0.78 mph). The elevation difference is about 1570 ft. Five runs up Snow King (7850') will give you a basic feel for the effort required to rise the 7000' on the Grand. Of course, the approach to the summit is longer and the oxygen levels in your blood are lower. It takes me 85 minutes (0.55 mph) to reach the JHMR's Tram Deck from the Teton Village parking lot (4,140' rise to 10,450'). You certainly have the fitness level needed climb the Grand Teton during daylight hours if you can clock my times but you don't need to be that fast — or slow. I hike over 600,000 vertical feet every year.

Some experienced climbers complain about the lack of a challenge on these two routes. As far as the climbing goes, they're mostly correct. This isn't a 5.11 climb (it's 5.4 to 5.5). Of course, we all experience it differently. It may seem like a 5.11 climb if you're 80-years-old. Additionally, all routes are inherently dangerous and poor conditions can turn an easy climb into a difficult one. For those unable to summit the Grand, the Enclosure is a spur off the Grand Teton's Upper Saddle and it's a quick scramble to reach the second highest peak in the Teton Range. A small Native American rock formation sits atop the Enclosure and predates the first known ascents of the Grand. The scramble starts about 100 ft. below the Upper Saddle and a little further to the west.

For the exceptional climbers, add the more difficult Lower Exum (5.7 Black Face) to your soloing agenda. It has nice holds and lots of exposure. You can also climb it with pro and finish the Upper Exum on a solo. In July, 2008, George Gardner, an employee of Exum Mountain Guides, died while soloing the Lower Exum. A wind gust of 60 mph was recorded that day. It might have taken his life. No one knows.


~ Grand Teton National Park Information ~

Grand Teton NP
GTNP Brochures
GTNP Trailhead Maps
Lupine Meadows Trailhead &
Approach to Garnet Canyon (PDF)
Camping in Garnet Canyon (PDF)
Rules for Camping in Garnet Canyon

It is worth taking extra time and acclimating to the elevation & the effort if you're not used to such activities. If you want to camp overnight, consider selecting a camping location that's suited to your fitness level. Carrying a heavy pack all the way to the Lower Saddle is a burden if you're not in excellent shape. You might be better off by camping at a lower elevation and starting your climb an hour earlier the following day. The National Park Service is now charging a hefty fee for camping in GTNP so that may play a part in your camping decision. Climbers and hikers can obtain backcountry camping permits at the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers' cabin at South Jenny Lake or at the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center near the Moose entrance. Permits can be purchased online for a higher price.

Approved bear-resistant food storage canisters are required at the Morainal Camping Zone. Canisters can be checked out for free at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station with the purchase of a camping permit. You won't like carrying them but they will keep marmots and bears out of your stuff. Feeding small mammals just encourages them to rip open your gear looking for snacks. It's unlikely you'll see a bear at the Moraines but bears have crossed the Lower Saddle and they make their way through Garnet Canyon every so often. Bear-resistant food storage boxes are available at the following camping zones: Platforms(1), Meadows(3), Caves(1), and Lower Saddle(1). GTNP should provide food storage boxes at the Moraines especially given the new fees they charge.

GTNP Backcountry Trip Planner (PDF)
Backcountry Reservations
AAC's Grand Teton Climber's Ranch
GTNP Campgrounds
GTNP Summer Visitor Map 2011 (PDF) Link to source page.
GTNP Winter Visitor Map 2011 (PDF) Link
GTNP Winter Guide & MAP 2013-14 (PDF) Link
GTNP Spring, & Summer, Guide & Map 2014
(Other Maps are further below)
GTNP Social Media
GTNP News Releases
(Not all NR's are released online)
2013 GTNP Rules & Restrictions (PDF)
Superintendent’s Compendium Webpage
GTNP Visitor Centers
Information (307) 739-3300
Discover Grand Teton
Best of the Tetons - Outstanding Photo Blog
13775' is the Grand Teton's Official Height
(New height measurements are slated for 2014)
Firearms in Grand Teton National Park.
Showers may be available at Colter Bay &
at the Rec. Center in Jackson.
There's a US Post Office at Moose, WY 83012
Bear Safety


~ GTNP History ~

Paul Horton's Teton Summit Registers  
 A Place Called Jackson Hole - 1999
 Park of the Matterhorns by Reynold 'Renny' G. Jackson
1941 GTNP Guidebook
 GTNP Historic Sites Map (PDF)
GTNP Historic Structures Map (PDF)
GTNP Historic Waysides (PDF)
GTNP boundary map 1929 (PDF)
GTNP & YNP Map 1929-36 (JPG)
GTNP Map 1941 (PDF)
GTNP Map 1946 (JPG)


~ Local Climbing Shops ~

Teton Mountaineering 307.733.3595
Skinny Skis 307.733.6094
Moosely Mountaineering 307.739.1801
Moosely Mountaineering is located near GTNP's
Moose Entrance along the east side of the Snake
River and just off US Highway 26/89 at Dornan's.
They rent approach shoes, crampons, and ice axes. TM also rents gear.
JD High Country Outfitters has some backcountry  gear


~ Local Climbing Guides ~

Exum Mountain Guides
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides
Wilderness Ventures (Programs for Teens)


~ Telephone Numbers ~

GTNP Lost & Found 307.733.3350
GTNP Emergency Dispatch 307.739.3301, or 911
Currently, you can't send an emergency text message to dispatch or 911.
Teton Interagency Fire Dispatch Center 307.739.3630
Jenny Lake Ranger Station 307.739.3343 8-5 pm the winter call 307.739.3309
Jenny Lake Visitor Center 8-7 pm
Moose Visitor Center 307.739.3399
Winter Hotline 307.739.3399
GTNP Visitor Information 307.739.3300
GTNP Public Affairs Office 307.739.3393
Moosely Mountaineering (in GTNP) 307.739.1801
Climber's Ranch (in GTNP) 307.733.7271
Weather NWS 1-800-211-1448 or GT 307.739.3611
YNP: 307.344.7381


~ 2014 National Park Fee-Free Days ~

January 20,  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15-17,  President's Day Weekend 
April 19-20,  National Park Week
August, 25,  National Park Service Birthday
September 27,  National Public Lands Day
November 11,  Veterans Day Weekend
Find a National Park


~ Wilderness First Aid ~

Wilderness First Aid American Red Cross (online & PDF)
Altitude sickness

The body needs time to adjust to higher elevations. The reduced air pressure means thinner air, or less oxygen. With fewer oxygen molecules in every breath, the body has to work harder. As oxygen in the lungs decreases, the blood becomes less efficient at circulating it to the brain and other organs. At an altitude of 13,775 ft. (4200 m) an average person has 9% less oxygen in their blood at rest as they would at sea level. As soon as any exercise is taken, the oxygen level in the blood decreases further. Altitude sickness has stopped many climbers from ascending the Grand Teton and its effects can become a serious safety hazard. In groups, individual denial of hazardous symptoms is very common. Climbers suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness or Altitude Sickness need to stop, rest, and descend if hazardous symptoms don't improve. Pregnant women should consult with a doctor before spending time above 10,000'. Pregnant women are seen climbing the Grand.


~ Emergency Care ~

 Grand Teton Medical Clinic (summer only) GTNP at Jackson Lake Lodge
St John's Medical Center (SJMC) 24/7 ER at 625 E. Broadway 307.733.3636
SJMC Family Health & Urgent Care Clinic at Smith's Plaza 1415 S. Hwy 89
SJMC Teton Village Clinic (winter only) near Bridger Gondola
Emerg+A+Care After hours call 307-733-8002 for 24/7 service.
at Powderhorn Mall 982 W Broadway
Dr. Hayse often works late & w/o appointment for non-emergency care.
Call to see if open 307-733-6700 at 269 W Broadway


~ Sky Data ~

Local Weather Forecast
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
Jackson, Teton County, Wyoming
 (longitude W110.8, latitude N43.5)
Time zone: UTC -6 (UTC -7 during Standard Time)
Sun Path
Monthly Phase of the Moon
Names of moon phases

2014 Full Moons
Jan 15  21:52
Feb 14  16:53
Mar 16  10:09
Apr 15  00:42
May 14  12:16
Jun 12  21:11
Jul 12  04:25
Aug 10  11:09
Sep  8  18:38
Oct  8  03:51
Nov  6  15:23
Dec  6  05:27

2014 Meteor Showers  (IMO)
A bright moon will dampen the quality of the show.
Jan 2-3 Peak Quadrantids
Apr 21-22 Peak Lyrids
May 5-6 Peak Eta Aquariids
Jul 27-28 Peak Delta Aquariids
Jul 28-29 Peak Alpha Capricornids
Aug 11-12 Peak Perseids
Oct 8-9 Peak Southern Taurids 
Oct 21-22 Peak Orionids
Nov 12-13  Peak Northern Taurids
Nov 17-18 Peak Leonids
Dec 13-14 Peak Geminids
Dec 21-22 Peak Ursids

Sky Map for Teton Valley
Google Sky Map
 World Light Pollution Atlas
NASA Astronomy Club Map (JH Club)
Stellarium is a free open source planetarium
Twilight Calculator


GTNP Air Quality & Visibility Data

The GTNP Air Quality website.
 The Webcam
Visibility Charts
The AQ site may have problems displaying data.


~ Teton Range USGS Topographic Maps ~

For viewing the GeoPDF maps within
Adobe Reader use the TerraGo Toolbar.
USGS Video about GeoPDF Maps

USGS Master Index Map for WY Quadrangles

PDF's & TIFF's
Tiff images will download the fastest
USGS 7.5 min Grand Teton 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Mount Moran 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Ranger Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Survey Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1989 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Colter Bay 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Rammell Mountain 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Jenny Lake 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Teton Village 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Mount Bannon 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Granite Basin 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Rendezvous Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Teton Pass 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
 USGS 7.5 min Palisades Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Victor 2013 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1978 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Driggs 2013 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1978 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Flagg Ranch 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Grassy Lake Reservoir 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) / 1989 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS Grand Teton Quadrangle from 1899 in a PDF-zip file

USGS 7.5 min Grand Teton 1968 (JPG)
USGS 7.5 min Mount Moran 1968 (JPG)
USGS Grand Teton Quadrangle from 1901 (JPG)
USGS Jackson Quadrangle from 1935 (JPG)
USGS Victor-Driggs Quadrangle from 1946 (JPG)

WY 7.5 min USGS Maps as Tiff Files (TIFF)
ID 7.5 min USGS Maps as Tiff Files (TIFF)

Interactive 7.5 min USGS Topo - Backcountry Mapping
Google Map Maker
Google Earth
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Google Maps
Open Street Map

Some mobile devices offer a PDF reader that will support GeoPDFs and leverage the GPS capability of the device to pinpoint you on the GeoPDF map. Only a few SmartPhones have the power needed to fully utilize a GeoPDF. The advantage of using a GeoPDF is that it will be available offline. The disadvantage is the large file size. Additionally, the current USGS GeoPDF's lack some features available on the older USGS maps like trails! The GeoPDF maps are considered to be a work in progress & updated on a 3 year cycle. The Grand Teton map includes aerial photos, cursor coordinates, 24 layers that you can turn on & off, and functionality with your GPS signal. The old maps are still available for a free download and they can be viewed with any PDF reader. Other types of offline mapping options for mobile devices are available — Android & iOS. Forrest McCarthy has a nice overview of "New Tools For Wilderness Navigation". Visit the USGS Store to download free 7.5 min USGS Topographical Maps in PDF & GeoPDF formats.


 ~ Jackson Hole Information ~

Yellowstone NP
Grand Teton NP
National Elk Refuge
JH Airport - Flight Tracker
Camping Locations & RV's Campsites
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Caribou-Targhee National Forest
WYDOT Closures / Advisories - (Map)
The Best Adventure Blog published in Jackson
Wyoming National Parks, Monuments, etc.
JH News & Guide Newspaper
Yellowstone Gate News Wyoming News
Teton County Rec Center
Teton County Library
Town of Jackson
Teton County


~ Climbing Information ~

Rock & Ice Magazine - How To's
Climbing Magazine - Skills
Alpinist Magazine
Climbing Wiki 
Animated Climbing Knots 
Animated Climbing Knots 2
Android Apps for Knots


~ Grand Teton Webcams ~

Views toward the Grand Teton
Teton Valley, ID - Looking East
Lost Creek Ranch - Looking West
Climbers' Ranch - Looking NW
Science School - Looking West
Gros Ventre Butte - Looking NW
Snow King Mtn - Looking North

Other Webcams
Town of Jackson - Town Square
Togwotee Mountain Lodge
Brooks Lake Lodge
YNP Webcams
LIVE Old Faithful Video YNP
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
JHMR Gondola Summit - view toward Tram
WYDOT Travel Map w/ Webcams
Teton Pass Webcams  
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"The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun" Alex Lowe

Enjoy safe climbing.

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