The 2016 Grand Teton Climbing Season

JL Climbing Rangers: 307-739-3343 (summer only) 8-5pm, 7 days a week.
Email JLCR: (summer only
The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers' cabin at Jenny Lake is CLOSED for the season.
Fall Climbing Information: 307-739-3604.
Teton Interagency Dispatch (Emergency Calls): 307-739-3301 or 911
Keep 307-739-3301 in your phone in case of a climbing emergency.
You can send a text-message to 911 in Teton County.
Fall 2016 Guide for GTNP PDF
GTNP Visitor Information: 307-739-3300
Email GTNP:


Forecasts & Observations
Weather: 307-739-3611 or 1-800-211-1448 
The NWS has a free online weather course.  


Enjoy the winter....

In old news related to Teton climbing: Jackson resident John Griber won an Emmy Award. He spent time filming The Grand Rescue movie and picked up the Emmy for his TV work on National Geographic's “Life Below Zero”. On October 3rd, Margaret Smith Craighead passed away. She was 96. She was on the first all-female ascent of the Grand Teton. Her family moved to Grand Teton National Park when she was a teenager. It was there that she spent her summers climbing with the likes of Paul Petzoldt, Glen Exum, and Irene Ayres. Her husband, John Craighead, passed away at 100 on Sept. 18th. He was a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and a champion of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone area. Jackson resident and climber Kim Shmitz, 70, died after an auto accident in Idaho. He was a winner of the AAC's Robert and Miriam Underhill Award for Outstanding Mountaineering Achievement. WyoFile documents his last hours.


Bears are very active at this time of year. This one was next to the trail on Saturday Sept 10th.

Even though the bears we encountered were clearly accustomed to short interactions with humans and their habits seem predictable their thoughts are unknown so loitering in their comfort zone is never wise. We ran into bears on almost 90% of our summer trips up the Grand in 2016. They were well behaved.

~ Drive carefully 'cause wildlife is on the move ~

A few trip reports for April through October

The above trip is marked-up with notes.
July 17th, 2016 (UXM) PNG Variation 


Current Weather

 GTGW4's recent rainfall totals at the valley floor just east of the Garnet Canyon.
Rain + Low Temps = ICE or SNOW

Keep in mind that the mountains can get more precipitation than the valley floor and that rain can be highly localized (over the Grand but not over a weather station). This is common.

The best forecast is the one issued on the day you are climbing; however, it's been our experience that a forecast for the Teton's during periods of moderate instability is extremely difficult for the National Weather Service (NWS) to nail down with any certainty. Storms can develop quickly right at the base of the Tetons and they can pass by just as quickly without a drop of rain or lightning. Either way, you don't want to be on the summit block if a real threat is developing. We will usually take our chances with a small and fast moving storm cell in an otherwise mostly blue sky; however, a bolt of lightning coming out of the sky in our direction is always a possibility. It's part of the inherent risk of climbing mountains.

The National Weather Service out of Riverton, WY will usually forecast a temperature difference between the Lower Saddle & summit of 8°F no matter the time of day or the weather. Their low temperature difference between the valley floor & the summit tends to be between 9°F & 13°F in their summer forecast. All forecast temperatures are temperatures of the air in the shade. It can feel much hotter in direct sunlight; however, the wind chill may negate any feelings of additional warmth. The wind speeds at the saddle are almost always much stronger than those in the forecast.
Today's National Weather Forecast
 This graphic should only be used to identify large weather patterns.
Small Rain / T'Storms may not be represented and an area expecting storms may be dry.

Please check the NWS's Hourly Forecast for the Lower Saddle to get a feel for what time the weather may take a turn for the worse and how bad it might actually be (look at the rainfall totals & lightning probability). Low pressure systems are usually associated with unstable weather but occasionally a high pressure system is associated with unstable weather in the Tetons. The forecast isn't always correct so once you start climbing you should be ready to alter your climbing plans if the field observations demand it.
Tomorrow's  NWS National Forecast

Our local website feeds the National Weather Service forecast to its website during the weekends when most people would like a better forecast than that given by the NWS. Despite that drawback, the website has a great collection of weather information.

Forecast for the Town of Jackson


Top of Hwy 22 on Teton Pass - looking NE

Top of Hwy 22 on Teton Pass - looking NW


Grand Teton Webcams

If an image is dark, the webcam may be having issues or it may be nighttime.
Sometimes the live stream is working but the still image is not being captured.

Current view from the Dornan's webcam inside GTNP.
Live Streaming

View from the AAC's Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch webcam inside GTNP.
Check the Time & Date. It may be an old image.

Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis webcam - just south of the Airport in GTNP.
Check the Time & Date - It may be an old image.
Live Streaming

Teton Valley, Idaho webcam - looking east toward the Grand, Middle, and South Tetons.
Try the Live Streaming if the image is dark.
Live Streaming

View from Spring Creek Ranch atop the East Gros Ventre Butte.
Live Streaming

The view west toward Mount Moran from the Buffalo River Valley.

Current Visibility in Grand Teton National Park
This graph is often offline or malfunctioning. Direct Link to visibility numbers
Moon Phases October 2016


Marked-up Grand Teton Climbing Route Photos 
Click on any image to enlarge it or to download a full size version. 

The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route (download full size)

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. When dry, the Owen-Spalding route doesn't require advanced climbing skills but it does require effort and careful attention to your every move. It's certainly psychologically challenging for many people. The Upper Exum route is harder and more time consuming. A greater degree of agility on rock is required for those going solo on the Upper Exum when compared to the Owen-Spalding. Climbers on the Upper Exum will need to familiarize themselves with the Owen-Spalding because it's used for downclimbing off the summit block.

Free-soloing the Grand Teton can be a relatively safe activity; however, there are no safe routes on the Grand Teton. This mountain is unforgiving to soloers who make a mistake. Natural threats are abundant. While this mountain isn't kind to non-athletes or fools it does have a long history of accepting the moderately fit or the very determined person to its summit. They are usually roping up for a guided climb on the Owen-Splading route that includes an overnight stay at the Lower Saddle.

Owen-Spalding Climbing Route (5.4)
Downclimbing the Exum Route is not recommended.

The Wittich Crack (video & first ascent) and the Great West Chimney are options for some free-soloing climbers. Novice climbers should stay on the OS. The Wittich Crack is rated a 5.6 to 5.7. It's not uncommon to run into poorer conditions near the top of the WC. The Great West Chimney is a chute of snow and ice; however, when the conditions are somewhat better, it's a viable way of bypassing the DC & the Owen Chimney, and sometimes Sargent's. You can also try variations off the GWC.

The western aspect of the Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Route.

Climbing guides are usually willing to see that free-soloing climbers have a chance to move past their group. Always ask first. Some areas, conditions, and situations aren't conducive to safe passing; however, space for passing is readily available for climbers on the Upper Exum and Owen-Spalding routes. If you insist on following the traditional routes and not passing, then it's easy to get backed up on the UXM and the OS. Climbers may find that the Belly Roll to the Owen Chimney is the most backed-up area on the OS. It can be pretty windy & cold along the exposure so climbers need to have the proper gear to wait out any delays which are common in the morning during the peak of the climbing season. On the Upper Exum route, the Step Across at the end of Wall Street can get a little clogged. You have more options elsewhere on that route to detour around other climbers.

Mt. Moran, Mt. Saint John, Jackson Lake, Mt Owen, and the Grand Teton as seen from The Enclosure.

The Enclosure features a very small Native American rock formation at its summit. Turn around and go bag the Enclosure (the western spur off the Grand Teton's Upper Saddle) if conditions are really poor on the Grand Teton. The Enclosure has nice views and it's more of a scramble than a climb. You can reach it from about 100 feet below the Upper Saddle by heading to the N-NW from the top of the Central Rib. 

The Owen-Spalding's exposure.

The Owen-Spalding's exposure is fairly easy to navigate when dry; nonetheless, care must be taken upon exiting the Crawl and accessing the Double Chimney because the footing isn't always the best. The access to the Double Chimney's second entrance has small footholds which become more friction-like the further you get from the first entrance.
The Crawl & access to the Double Chimney.
The two access points to the Double Chimney are shown above.

Under snowy conditions like that shown above, free-soloing climbers may find that the first entrance of the Double Chimney is the safest option up & down the route. If the hand crack to the second entrance is plugged with ice & snow and the footholds are slick then try the first entrance. The first entrance is a real challenge to climb for many people. It's considered the crux of the route when dry although it's rarely dry because it's a drainage for water coming off the Catwalk. Almost any area could prove to be the most difficult under poor conditions. Keep in mind that the second entrance is faster & easier under dry conditions. There are places that require exceptional care and the Double Chimney area is one of them even when dry.

If the snow gives way just out of the Crawl, you might go with it. Ice usually hides under snow and there are no bomber holds on the wall just out of the Crawl. You may need an axe to poke around, clear ice, grab a hold, or to use as a stemming device if conditions are poor. There is an old piton just out of the Crawl but it's an old piton that should only be used with other points of fall protection especially given its exposed location if you're roping up.

The exit from the Double Chimney and the bottom of the Owen Chimney

We prefer to free-solo the UXM and climb down the OS but we are often climbing up the OS because we are unsure about its conditions. We don't want to run into the common situation where the UXM is in fine shape but the OS is too nasty to descend without additional gear. Our preference is to go fast & light and travel without crampons, axe, rope, etc. We just head for the Grand and hope for the best. Turning around is the best option if you lack the proper gear; however, familiarity with the route sometimes gets free-soloing climbers to the summit without that gear. There's a safety tipping-point that isn't always obvious under poor conditions so it's best to come back another day if you have any doubts about the climb.

The OS does see winter climbers, including soloers traveling alone, but not many. Ski mountaineers are more likely to climb a couloir to the summit and descend in a similar fashion. Obviously, using skis to navigate the approach is the most common way to access the mountain during the winter.

Sargent's Chimney - alternate exit.

Going up Sargent's main chimney is almost as easy as the alternate exit under good conditions but most people choose the Hidden Exit. It's a little harder to downclimb the main chimney (we stay on the southern side at the top). Under poor conditions, we usually stick to the Hidden Exit but there is always the chance that the main chimney is safer. It's common to find ice in the main chimney all summer long. You can usually work your way around it.

 The center crack is an easy climb up but many people 'switchback' to the SE and then NE.

The Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle

The alternate (or secondary) 2x70' rap is a little funky. You can access the secondary rappel from above; from the Main Rap's sling by climbing up a short chimney, and from the Main Rap's sling if you feel comfortable rapping over the gap to your south to gain the second setup. Be sure to get clear of the rockfall zone once you get off rope. It's possible to avoid the first rappel of the 2x70' rap by climbing down a tight slanting chimney that's next to the first 2x70' rap setup.

The Main Rap's measurements are said to vary between 100 and 130ft. 120' has been published as has "30m+". 60 meters is 196.85ft. 30m = 98.42ft. The bolted rings have a metal tag that's stamped 40m (the longest drop). We don't know the exact shortest length; however, if you move to the south while rappelling down, you'll be landing on the higher end of the Upper Saddle's slope. The landing zone slopes downhill to the north & west. With rope stretch, most climbers get by with a dynamic 60m rope. The rap ring on the sling, instead of the bolted rap rings, will put you on a line closer to the upper part of the landing zone. This is how many climbers fly. If other climbers are around, you can simply rap down a single strand of a shorter rope and have them release your line afterwards.
 Variations between the Lower and Upper Saddle

You can use any path you want to get from the Lower to the Upper Saddle. Some are safer and easier than others. Under dry conditions, most climbers use the Briggs Slab or the Chockstone Chimney to access the Central Rib's bench and then they run up a rib to reach the Upper Saddle. When everything is filled with snow between the saddles, some climbers will use a bootpack up the drainages. Our preference is to avoid being near the eastern wall of the Enclosure's SW Ridge when early-season freeze & thaw cycles are increasing the odds of rockfall. Additionally, the snow may prove to be unstable in the drainage.

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. We 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.

View of the Grand Teton from the Lower Saddle

It's not unusual for free-soloers to reach the Lower Saddle as other climbers are retreating from the mountain due to early-morning conditions. Those soloers can go on to have a great day climbing. The cold morning wind & the overnight ice scare away far too many climbers. Thin ice cleans up fairly quickly once the warm sun reaches around the southern aspect. The winds at the Lower Saddle tend to dissipate near the Central Rib.

We have clocked round-trips between the Lower Saddle and the summit at 1.5 hours so it's not like free-soloing climbers need 4 hours to summit under nice conditions from the saddle if they have a good feel for the route. We aren't running but we move without delay. Kilian Jornet took about 48 minutes on his round-trip between the Lower Saddle & the summit. Kilian's descent at 19 minutes was slower than Rolando Garibotti's self-claimed record of 12 minutes between the summit and the Lower Saddle. Don't expect your times to match ours. Conditions, acclimation, skill set, fitness, knowledge of the route, weather, hydration, fuel, sleep, mental state, & gear all play a part in how fast you will move.

We love this published warning from the Grand Teton Climbing Rangers:

"It is not uncommon for parties to take 14 hours or more to make the round trip from the Lower Saddle to the summit"

A very small percentage of people take 14 hours or longer under nice weather & conditions. There's nothing wrong with taking 14 hours if you're prepared to do so. One of the best reasons for free-soloing is that you won't be on the slow train to the summit and you can retreat quickly. 

"The Owen Spalding and Exum Ridge are often mis-described as a "hikes"."

There are no hikes up the Grand Teton. Alex Honnold might call the 5.5-rated Upper Exum a scramble but it's rarely "mis-described" as a hike. The 5.4 Owen-Spalding route is mostly a scramble with less than 400 feet of climbing that might warrant a rope under good conditions. 

"Solo-ists are regularly injured or killed when attempting these routes."

Not really. The word “regularly” seems misplaced. Far fewer than one percent of soloing climbers have any issues. Of course, climbing accidents do happen. In 2014, Steve Markusen, 60, was free-soloing the Upper Exum and seriously injured between Friction Pitch and V-Pitch. He might have been hit by rockfall but he couldn't remember. In 2011, Don Ivie, 44, fell 2500 ft to his death while free-soloing the Owen-Spalding's exposed area. No one knows what caused him to fall. In 2014, Mary Bilyeu, 44, fell to her death while unroped on a guided climb as she traversed along the southern side of the Upper Saddle directly above the Exum Gully. She was headed for a 5.8 climb of the Pownall-Gilkey route. No one knows what caused her to fall. On July 23, 2016, Exum Mountain Guide Gary Falk, 42, fell to his death while unroped from the top of the Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle. No one knows what caused him to fall. This mountain is like a cathedral - be respectful and move with purpose. 

"The OS, Exum and Petzoldt ridges are popular routes and groups greater than 2 are not appropriate for popular alpine area(s) such as this."

Excluding the Petzoldt, a group of three or more climbers on these routes isn't a deal-breaker that suddenly threatens everyone's safety while climbing. Nor does it diminish the experience for others when compared to encountering many small groups. There is no reason to discourage a group of three or more from an ascent if they are capable of responsible preparation and decision making. Some large groups even move faster than small ones. Nonetheless, from a safety perspective, studies do suggest that a large group of climbers (especially men) may make riskier decisions than an individual or a pair of climbers. This happened in 2015 (see below) and in 2010.

The Petzoldt ridge rarely sees groups that have more than 2 or 3 climbers and it sees far less traffic so we're not sure why the rangers felt the need to include it but we will guess that it had something to do with this rescue involving 10 climbers in 2015. That rescue is probably also related to the next comment:

"Climbers should not attempt a one-day ascent of the Grand Teton without prior 1-day peak ascents in the range and prior climbs on the Grand."

A round-trip climb in a single day can be extremely taxing. Even the hike to the Lower Saddle takes a toll on many individuals. Of course, a one-day round-trip is not suggested for everyone but the idea that all climbers should not climb the Grand Teton in a single day without prior summits in the Tetons and prior summits on the Grand is nutty nonsense. Such ascents happen all the time. Even athletes who are not climbers are making round-trips in a single day on the Owen-Spalding. You're more likely to succeed if you're free-soloing simply because you're quicker. It's not easy or wise to on-sight your way up this mountain on a one-day adventure but even that has been done. If you're used to mountaineering activities at high elevations and you're fit enough for a round-trip then it's well worth the effort to try a one-day ascent when the weather and conditions are in your favor. Don't let the rangers scare you away from a route appropriate for your party.

South Aspect of the Grand Teton

Central Rib's Bench, Upper Western Rib, Briggs Slab, Chockstone Chimney, etc.
Looking at the bench area between the Lower & Upper Saddles.
The view is toward the north-northeast.

All drainage areas are rockfall zones and possibly icy. The drainage to the east of the Upper Western Rib (OS Couloir) is avoided for just those reasons; however, under dry conditions if we were on a FKT run and no one was above us then we might go up the entire drainage. 

Access to the Briggs Slab and view into the upper half of the Chockstone Chimney.

The Cracks of Death (AKA: Cracks of Doom) and the Sack of Potatoes variations are shown above & below. They are rarely used during a descent and they can be harder than the Briggs Slab or the Chockstone Chimney.

 Closeup view around the Sack o' Potatoes. The Briggs' Slab will be easier when dry.

The Central Rib. Looking southeast.

The bench area is just a scramble. We prefer the Briggs' Slab variation to reach the Central Rib's bench but sometimes the Chockstone Chimney is your best option. Once on the bench, some climbers will use a higher (more eastern) route to reach the Black Rock Chimney (or the Upper Western Rib) instead of the more western route which is closer to the main drainage to the west. Conditions often determine which scramble is easier. A higher scramble is often safer due to the rockfall hazards from other climbers.

Chockstone Chimney on the western side of the Needle

Eye of the Needle, Chockstone Chimney, Briggs Slab, 'Belly-Roll Almost'

If the EOTN is plugged, you can easily climb over the rock when the snow is deep enough on the south side to allow it. The northern side has more holds and is fairly easy to move up & down at any time if it's not iced over. Access to the middle ledge that runs between the Briggs Slab & the EOTN is sketchy under poor conditions.

Briggs Slab

You can see the 'Belly-Roll Almost' in this image. When dry, it's quicker and easier to go under it.

The midway exit from the Needle's Chockstone Chimney during the descent.

The Runners' Slab is not something most climbers would run across even when dry.  If conditions are good, the Southern Corner (shown in picture) is a very short downclimb that can be used to reach the ledge below the slab or as a way to downclimb the entire chimney. You can also climb up or down the northern wall of the chimney. The 'Tunnel' is a foot trap when snow hides it. There's a fair amount of loose rock in the CC so pay attention to your footing. 

View of the Central Rib from the Upper Western Rib

 Access to the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

The access point to the BRC is part of a slight western extension of the Central Rib and it's in a NE corner between the slab & the extension.

Black Rock Chimney

Black Rock Chimney

The upper Central Rib with the access to the Black Rock Chimney

Upper Western Rib

The Black Rock Chimney is our preferred route but the Upper Western Rib sees a lot of action. It's a natural line to follow whereas the Black Rock Chimney isn't an obvious line. The BRC is directly east of the spot where the grade of the drainage meets the grade of the Central Rib's Bench. The drainage is between the bench and the Upper Western Rib. The BRC's access point is by a vertical slab of reddish orange rock that makes up part of the Central Rib. You'll see the black-colored rock just above the slab. The Upper Western Rib has you crossing scree and we like to avoid being below climbers crossing scree or causing rockfall.

Climbers at the Climbers' Ranch can use the old Burned Wagon Gulch trail.

The BWG trail is usually overgrown because it gets so little traffic. If dew is on the grass, you'll get soaked. It's not often maintained so you may need to climb over deadfall. The BWG trail meets the Lupine Meadows trail at the first junction to the Bradley-Taggart Lakes trail. The BWG trail is unmarked. Ticks are more common on the BWG trail. The views are better than those from Lupine. We like it because fewer people use it.
The 2015 USGS Grand Teton 7.5' Quadrangle (JPG).
Download GeoPDF
USGS 7.5 min. topographic maps surrounding the Grand Teton

From Google Earth
This map shows the names of various features around the Grand Teton.
Full-size link

The climbers trail from Lupine Meadows is mostly well
defined all the way to the Lower Saddle.

The Meadows' Headwall.
The Meadows' Headwall. Early-season routes up the snow.

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.
The Headwall of the Grand Teton's Lower Saddle.

As you can see in the above image, conditions in May are winter-like on the approach but the days are longer and warmer. During May, you're more likely to see ski mountaineers than climbers without skis. You can expect to find snow from the trailhead to the summit. As we roll toward summer, the steep sun-soaked upper mountain will clean up before the approach completely burns off but you may still find large clusters of snow & ice on the summit block. That snow & ice may be a minor nuisance or a bigger challenge. Given its aspect, the Upper Exum cleans up before the Owen-Spalding.
Exposed foot trap on trail.

That spring snow is one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths in GTNP. Snow can hide foot traps. It can fly off steep rockbands after losing its grip. It can collapse underfoot at rock-snow interfaces. It can birth crevasses and moats. Melting snow turns into running water which undercuts the snow and forms voids. That running water also causes rockfall and forms ice overnight. High spring temperatures can turn snow into torrents of slushy debris inside chutes that flush without much warning and with great force. Saturated spring snow is primed for wet slab avalanches. Snow, ice, and water form a dangerous cocktail. Imbibe carefully. 

Natural hazards are always out there. Snow flying out of the Stettner Couloir on June 7th, 2015.
On this day, it flushed three times. It crossed the climbers' trail in a mass of debris.

We had nasty snowy conditions on August 9th of 2015, and ice stayed on the Owen-Spalding route for much of that summer. Sometimes we barely get a drop of moisture and temperatures remain high. Those conditions increase the odds of wildfires. Given the option of climbing with smoke-filled skies or ice underfoot, we'll take the ice.

The Second Boulder Field at the east end of the Morainal Camping Zone.
There are many boulder fields but only two boulder fields where the trail
disappears and makes a serious deviation from your current direction of travel.

Camping in Garnet Canyon

A fee is required for a camping permit.
Those bound for Garnet Canyon during the summer must go
to the Jenny Lake Ranger Station to get their camping permits.

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. During the summer, climbers and hikers can obtain backcountry camping permits at the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers' cabin at South Jenny Lake. Reservations may be made online for a higher price early in the year. The overnight stays at the Exum Mountain Guides' hut at the Lower Saddle can reach 1,300 or more during the summer. The public camping sites see many more climbers. During peak years, overnight backcountry stays in GTNP reach 30,000.

All overnight campers at the Lower Saddle & Caves Camping Zones are required to take "Rest Stop" bags to pack out their human waste. All visitors to the Lower Saddle are asked pee on the western side of the Lower Saddle while keeping in mind that there are a few campsites on the western side so avoid peeing by them. Campers are also encouraged to use "Rest Stop" bags when staying elsewhere in Garnet Canyon. Those at Corbet's High Camp must also use RS bags.

As of 2014, approved bear-resistant food storage canisters are required at the Morainal Camping Zone in the North Fork of Garnet Canyon. 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 mammals just encourages them to rip open your gear. 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 high fees they charge.
 Next to the trail during an evening run up the Grand to watch the sunset on July 3rd, 2015.
Bear Wise Wyoming Game & Fish

Bears usually leave you alone if you leave them alone. Bears protecting a food source or cubs tend to be the biggest threat to humans. Bears that are surprised by humans may take defensive actions, too. Your chances of getting injured on the Grand Teton are greater than your chances of getting injured by a bear but never underestimate the threat posed by either one. Yellowstone Bear Safety Tips

 A 27-year old man from Star Valley, WY reported that he discharged a handgun during an encounter with three grizzly bears near the Jackson Lake Dam on August 25, 2015 (NPS News Release). Apparently, he was trying to scare the bears, not aiming for a bear. While such reactions are legal just a few miles to the east in the Teton National Forest, firing a gun in GTNP is a no-no until hunting season.

Grizzly Bears are considered a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act and killing them is, of course, illegal unless you work for the government which in 2015 killed at least 24 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2014, the Interagency Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Study Team voted unanimously to strip the grizzly of Endangered Species Act protections. The US Fish and Wildlife Service also proposed delisting. No bear deterrent is 100% effective, but bear spray is usually better than a firearm. Hopefully, the wind is in your favor and you're not in a downpour.

Climbing & Backcountry Information

Backcountry camping permits while climbing or mountaineering must
be obtained at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station during the summer.
$35 for advanced reservations if made between the
first Wednesday in January and May 15th.
$25 for walk-in permits.
Garnet Canyon Regulations
Wilderness Climbing Ethics
Commercial Mountain Guides
Backcountry Reservations
Backcountry Camping Information
Backcountry Camping Brochure
Backcountry Camping Zone Maps
Bear Safety

Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers
Search and Rescue

Accidents & Mountain Rescue
Search & Rescue Operations
Jenny Lake Ranger History
Acceptable Risk

Conditions Information

Climbing Route Conditions
Mountain Pass Conditions
Canyon & Trail Conditions

Maps for trails within Grand Teton National Park
~ USGS 7.5 min map links are further below ~

Granite Canyon Trailhead
Death Canyon Trailhead
Taggart Lake Trailhead
Lupine Meadows Trailhead
Jenny Lake Trailhead
String Lake Trailhead
Leigh Lake Trailhead
Hermitage Point Trailhead
Two Ocean Lake Trailhead

These are now available for your mobile device.
Avenza System Inc has an app for viewing:
Blackrock Ranger District (formerly known as Buffalo Ranger District)
Greys River, Big Piney, Kemmerer-North Ranger Districts
Greys River, Big Piney, Kemmerer-South Ranger Districts
Jackson Ranger District
Pinedale Ranger District 2014

Visitor Centers
Free wireless internet access is available for the public at the Craig
Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose.

Dornan's also provides free internet access. 
Jenny Lake Ranger Station
Colter Bay Visitor Center
Flagg Ranch Information Station
Jenny Lake Visitor Center
Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center 307-739-3399
Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center
GTNP Lost & Found
GTNP Social Media Sites

The 2016 entrance fee-free days

    January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    April 16 through 24 – National Park Week
    August 25 through 28 – National Park Service Birthday
    September 24 – National Public Lands Day
    November 11 – Veterans Day
The Guide Books

A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range 'The Bible'
It may be the bible; however, its presentation is dated.
Teton Classics: 50 Selected Climbs in Grand Teton National Park
Teton Rock Climbs: A Select Guide to the Teton Range's Best Alpine Routes
Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone
All books are available at the Teton County Library and 
Some older and fascinating guide books are also available.
Find books at your library.

Local Climbing Shops

Teton Mountaineering - also rents gear (Google)
Moosely Mountaineering - also rents gear (Google)
Skinny Skis - mostly backcountry gear - also rents gear via MM (Google)
High Country Outfitters - backcountry gear - no climbing hardware (Google)
Teton Backcountry Rentals 
 Y√∂stmark Mountain Equipment (Driggs, Idaho)

Local Climbing Guides

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

Telephone Numbers
 FYI: GTNP has a bad habit of changing contact numbers.

Climbing Information: 307-739-3604
 Camping Information: 307-739-3603
Visitor Information: 307-739-3300
Road Construction Hotline 307-739-3614
Backcountry & River Information 307-739-3602
GTNP Lost & Found 307.733.3350
GTNP Emergency Dispatch 307.739.3301, or 911
Jenny Lake Ranger Station 307.739.3343 8-5 pm the winter call 307.739.3309
Moose Visitor Center 307.739.3399
Winter Hotline 307.739.3399
Public Affairs Office 307.739.3393
Moosely Mountaineering (in GTNP) 307.739.1801
Dornan's in GTNP at Moose (307) 733-2415
Climber's Ranch (in GTNP) 307.733.7271
Weather NWS 1-800-211-1448 or GT 307.739.3611

Emergency Care 
Please consider adding a First-Aid App to your smart phone.

Grand Teton Medical Clinic (summer only 9-5) GTNP at Jackson Lake Lodge
St John's Medical Center (SJMC) 24/7 ER 625 E. Broadway
SJMC Family Health & Urgent Care Clinic 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.
455 W. Broadway Jackson, Wyoming (next to Sports Authority).
Dr. Hayse often works late & w/o appointment.
307-733-6700 269 W Broadway


Park Rangers are obsessed with harassing hitchhikers.
Hitchhiking is legal in Wyoming & GTNP.

The Federal Code
§ 4.31 Hitchhiking
"Hitchhiking or soliciting transportation is prohibited except
in designated areas and under conditions established by the superintendent."

Hitchhiking is legal in GTNP according to the
Superintendent's Compendium 2015
except under the following circumstances:
• Within two tenths of a mile (0.2mi) of an Entrance Station.
• Within 200 feet of a park service office building or visitor center.
• While holding or having a sign that is larger than 2'x2' in size.
•  The hitchhiker must stay off the surface of the paved roadway, 
though a hitchhiker may stand on pavement in a paved pullout.
• Where vehicles may not safely pull off of the main traffic lane into a pullout or
safely onto the shoulder to allow for the passengers to be received safely.
• During the hours of darkness, unless the hitchhiker is 
wearing bright (preferable reflectively enhanced) clothing.
• When hitchhiking behavior is deemed unsafe or a nuisance 
by a commissioned Law Enforcement Ranger.
See this GTNP webpage for more info on Laws and Policies

Speaking of law enforcement, automated license plate recognition systems are used by the federal government and local law enforcement in Teton County. The entire state of Wyoming is a speed trap: 'pull over and fish' is our 'stop & frisk'. Jackson Hole has more law enforcement officers per mile of highway than most places you will visit.


The pathways are only open to bikes between 1/2 hour before sunrise & 1/2 hour after sunset. 

2015-'16 Winter Closures

Grand Teton National Park Closure Map (PDF)
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance's Closure Maps.
Jackson Ranger District BTNF Closures & Maps.
Caribou-Targhee NF Maps & CTNF Trail Map
The Climbers' Ranch closed Sept. 12.
Moosely Mountaineering closed Sept. 27.
The Lower Saddle's Weather Station was removed Sept. 22.
The Recreational Forecast for GTNP is off-line for the winter.
The Jenny Lake Ranger Station closed on September 6.
The Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center closed on November 1.
(Opened March 4th - AKA: Moose Visitor Center)

Avalanche Links
National Avalanche Center's Encyclopedia
Utah Avalanche Center UT
Colorado Avalanche Information Center CO
Alaska Avalanche Information Center AK
Wyoming State Trails Avalanche Hazard Maps
Powder Mag: The Safe Zone
Know Before You Go
TGR Backcountry Travel Guide

Snow Data

Graphs of Jackson Hole Snowfall last 24 hrs & 7-Day (- 24 Hour Data -)
JH Raw Data Directory
JH Wind Graphs
JH Individual Stations
MesoWest Weather Observation Stations
Moose, WY HPRCC Temp & Precip Data 
Snow Forecast - WPC Probabilistic Winter Precipitation Guidance
JHMR Snow Report
(JHMR Rendezvous Bowl Detail / Graph 7-Day)
Snow King Snow Report
Targhee Snow Report
Regional Snow Analyses: Central Rockies
Wyoming SNOTEL Sites
What Backcountry Users should know about SNOTELS (PDF)
 Idaho USDA NRCS  Winter Recreation Information
USDA NRCS Snow Water Equivalent Data (PDF's)
Current Weather Observations around Jackson Hole
Rain to Snow conversion

Skiing Links

JH Nordic
Jackson Hole Ski Club
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Snow King Mountain
Grand Targhee
Skiing The
Jackson Hole Ski Atlas
Select Peaks - "The Bibles of Teton Skiing"
Teton Gravity Research
Teton County Parks & Rec Classic & Skate Skiing Services
Friends of Pathways Maps (JH)
Teton County Idaho Trails & Pathways Maps
Choice Lines 
Teton County Search & Rescue
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Skiing
Exum Mountain Guides Skiing
Teton Backcountry Guides

Other Stuff

Weather info is further below.
 Tristan's Teton Aerial Photos
Jack's Teton Aerial Photos
GTNP Laws & Policies
Grand Teton Summit Registers
 Discover Grand Teton
BTNF Twitter Feed
Bridger-Teton National Forest
BTNF Winter Travel Map Jackson and Blackrock
Caribou-Targhee National Forest Maps
Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Wyoming Wilderness Information
The Wilderness Society
Wyoming Wilderness Assoc 
 Idaho Alpine Club Maps
Jedediah Smith Wilderness
Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Webcam - Live Streaming 
YellowstoneGate News
Jackson Hole News and Guide
Grand Teton News Releases
Not all news releases are released online
and climbing related NR's are often
Nice picture of Exum Ridge
Best of the Tetons - Outstanding Photo Blog - nice site about plants in the Tetons.
Firearms in Grand Teton National Park.
Showers may be available at the Climbers' Ranch.
Public showers and laundromat facilities are available
at the Colter Bay Village and the Signal Mountain Campground.
  In Jackson, showers are available at the Rec. Center.
The Missing Sock Laundromat  is located in Smith's Plaza off Hwy 89.
There's a GTNP US Post Office at Moose, WY 83012.
Mammals brochure for Grand Teton National Park. And Wiki
Admission Free Days in the National Parks
FOIA - frequently requested NPS documents
NPS News
Bear Safety
Wyoming Webcam Index


USGS Recent Earthquake Map for WY. - USA Map
Snow King Seismograph (Or Try Here)
Teton Pass Seismograph (Or Try Here)
Seismograph Stations
UofU Station List
USGS's 'Did You Feel It?'
New Report a Quake page
Shake Maps


Smoke & Fire Map - out of service

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. Check out the web cameras, the smoke map, and the air quality website to get a feel for the conditions. The air quality site has trouble staying operational.

The view west.

Trip Reports

Mark P Thomas'
Teton Grand Slam & Lower Exum TR 

"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
Greta Jensen finally made it to the summit at
the age of 7 in 2012 but it took three tries.
She soloed the ascent.
Grand Teton Links & Stats
GTNP Peaks
Grand Traverse  Pataclimb .com
Outside Mag  2012 Grand Traverse
Alpinist Magazine (#33) profiles The Grand Teton
 It only took me four years to summit the Grand Teton
Google Upper Exum
Google Owen-Spalding  
Upper Exum Soloing Video
GTNP's e-climb of the Grand Teton
The Picnic. The Grand Teton Triathlon

On August 11, 1930, Paul Petzoldt guided a party of three men to the summit and they "Took 'movies' all the way". Where those movies ended up is a mystery. A year later in 1931, Paul guided another party that filmed their climb and you can watch the classic 1931 Grand Teton climbing video on Forrest McCarthy's YouTube channel. Nowadays, there may be a half-dozen people filming their climbs on any given summer morning. You can find 1000's of images, videos, and trip reports all over the Internet.

Anyone who has done the Grand Teton Triathlon has experienced the power of 60°F water to remove heat from the body faster than 60°F air. Still water conducts heat away from the body approximately 20 to 25 times more efficiently than still air. An unprotected swimmer can succumb to hypothermia even in warmish water on a warm day. For most people, a proper wetsuit is essential for a safe swim across Jenny Lake. Participants have also towed $15 boogie boards for hauling food/clothing/shoes. They can be used for emergency purposes in case of cramping in the middle of your 1.2-mile swim. Keep in mind that using a bike on the pathways is illegal at night. You can use the park's roads.
U.S. Olympic ski team member Laura McCabe was bringing up the rear
with the next generation on June 28th, 2015. Laura was married to Sean McCabe.
The young adults were headed for the Upper Exum. If we heard correctly,
Dashe McCabe climbed the GT at 7-years-old in 2013.

The youngest person that we know of to solo the Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding route, or any route, is Greta Jensen, who was 7-years-old at the time and on her third attempt. Peter Eubank climbed the Owen-Spalding route at the age of 6. It is often reported that he was 5 but he climbed Teewinot at 5, not the Grand. Beo Charette climbed the Upper Exum in 2014 when he was 6. 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. A 13-year-old named Jay P. Bartlett of Ogden, UT reached the summit on July 15th, 1933 with Paul Petzoldt as the guide, and in a single day from the valley floor. In 1924, Paul guided an out-of-shape Geraldine Lucas to the summit. She was 58. You'll walk by Geraldine's old homestead if you take the Burned Wagon Gulch trail from the Climbers' Ranch. In 2012, 51-year-old Nancy Stevens became the first blind woman to summit. 80-year-old Bob Riggs reached the summit in 2007. Of course, many climbers don't make it to the summit and most young children should not be climbing the Grand.
Craighead Family photo of
Margaret Smith Craighead

Margaret was on the first manless ascent of the Grand Teton in 1939. It took them 4 hours and 30 minutes to reach the summit from the Lower Saddle. By the age of 16 she had climbed most of the major peaks in the Teton range. 1939 was the same year that 40-year-old Joe Hawkes made his 5:21 FKT round-trip. By today's standards, it's not an uncommon time for soloing runners.

Experienced & fit climbers who are free-soloing and walking will usually give themselves 5 hours to summit from the Lupine Meadows trailhead. Many groups on a single-day round-trip will leave the Lupine Meadows' parking area around midnight. The park's concessionaires (Exum & JHMG) sometimes start their climbs around 3 or 4 in the morning from their high camps near 11,600' in order to summit and return to camp before noon. What time you leave depends upon your personal preferences for solitude, sleep, alertness, warmth, sights, risk, and how fast your party can move. Take a headlamp if you're uncertain about your ability to get back down in a timely manner - you'll have 16 hours of daylight during the longest days.

We like to guesstimate that if you can hike up Jackson's Snow King Mountain in under 30 minutes (1,571 ft elevation gain) then you can make a round-trip on the Grand Teton during daylight hours when conditions are appropriate. Out at Teton Village, we figure that if you can reach the top of the Tram from the parking lot using all the trail shortcuts in under 90 minutes then you can easily clock a 7-hour round-trip on the Grand Teton under ideal conditions. We assume you know the route and are comfortable climbing.

As another time reference for runners on two slightly longer courses up the same mountains, take a look at Stephen Mulherin's race times during the 2016 Snow King Hill Climb & the Rendezvous Mountain Hill Climb. He clocked in at 00h20m49s during the Snow King race and then he punched a time of 1h05m15s up Rendezvous. Stephen's round-trip on the Grand Teton sits at 3h00m34s.

When walking fast, our best round-trip times approach 7 hours but 8 hours is a more common time for a fast round-trip. If we are taking photos and not in a hurry, a 10-hour day can easily become a reality. Poor conditions will slow us down as will carrying extra gear. If we are taking friends who require protection, especially friends who rarely undertake demanding activities, we will add many additional hours to a round-trip.

Assuming they have lost sleep, climbers starting at midnight are less alert than someone leaving the trailhead at sunrise and they get more tired as the day rolls along. That can be a safety hazard. It is colder in the morning and you're more likely to find verglas. You really need to know the route if you're climbing in the dark; although, near the Lower Saddle you might be able to follow others who are leaving for the summit. An early ascent makes for some nice photography because you get to watch the sunrise and you're more likely to have clouds below you.

If you leave at sunrise, you need to be fast enough to get off the summit block before afternoon thunderstorms become a safety hazard. We leave the trailhead around sunrise but we will start earlier with a group of free-soloers. We may start later if we expect overnight ice to burn off slowly. If the weather is perfect, we may leave as late as noon for a climb during daylight hours. That's during the hottest part of the day. For evening sunsets, we try to leave between 4 & 5pm. Most climbers like to be off the summit block by noon so you can expect more solitude the later you climb; nonetheless, it's not unusual to find time alone on the summit during the morning hours.


Fastest Known Round-Trip Times on the Grand Teton

~ FKT for Men ~
Andy Anderson, 2h53m02s, August 22, 2012
Kilian Jornet, 2h54m01s, August 12, 2012
Stephen Mulherin, 3h00m34s, 2015
Bryce Thatcher, 3h06m, August 26, 1983

~ FKT for Women ~
 Emilie Forsberg, 3h51m, August 11, 2012

 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
(Anton took the FKT for Wyoming's highest peak, Gannett, on
September 18, 2012: 8h46m32s car-to-car from Green River Lakes).

Kilian Jornet had the least experience on the Grand of all the FKT runners. His controversial off-trail shortcuts on the approach probably saved him a minute or so but they cost his FKT some credibility. Nonetheless, he would have beaten the previous record held by Thatcher without shortcuts and he might trade FKT's with Andy Anderson on any given weekend. Putting that aside, none of the runners actually took the same overall route to the summit. It's doubtful they all faced the same conditions. And it's even more unlikely that they were all hitting their life-time peak performance levels on the day of record. Of course, there are other mountaineers that could post equally impressive times but they never make it to the Tetons.

Short-cutting the approach could result in an expensive ticket from a ranger. There's not much of an issue if you are scrambling over talus or snow, and short-cutting during an emergency may be a necessity. Some shortcuts through brush and scree will actually slow you down; others may not be safe. The old climbers' trail which Thatcher took on his run up the Grand is now closed but some climbers still poach the trail. There's barely a minute's difference on the ascent between the old climbers' trail and the current one when walking.

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. A GPS watch won't accurately capture every twist and turn of the trail especially if it's moving as fast as Kilian's watch. Google Earth pegs the round-trip near 13.8 miles but its measurement resolution is probably limited to 80' segments and its algorithm depends upon the user accurately mapping the trail. Our gut feeling is that the Google distance is within .5 miles of the actual distance.

Published Distances

4.1 miles Platforms Camping Zone / Garnet Creek
4.7 miles Meadows Camping Zone
5.5 miles Petzoldt's Caves Camping Zone
6.2 miles Morainal Camping Zone
7.0 miles Lower Saddle

We have no idea if the distances are correct.

Grand Traverse FKT's

The Grand Traverse is a traverse of the Tetons’ central peaks which include Teewinot Mountain, Peak 11,840'+, East Prong, Mount Owen, Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton, Ice Cream Cone, Gilkey Tower, Spalding Peak, Cloudveil Dome and Nez Perce. It starts and ends at the Lupine Meadows trailhead. The level of climbing difficulty ranges up to IV 5.8 (YDS class). Peak 11,840' and the East Prong are sometimes left out of the bagged peaks.

~ Records for Men ~
Nick Elson 6:30:49
Rolando Garibotti 6:49
 Alex Lowe 8:15 - depending on the source.

~ Records for Women ~
Kim Csizmazia 12:26
Julia Niles had a nice free-solo in about 16 hrs

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

Trimble Map of the Grand Traverse

On the Grand Traverse, Rolando has the overall elevation gain near 12,000 feet and a distance near 14 miles. The Trimble map has a total distance near 13 miles. Alpinist Magazine has a total distance at 17.9 miles. An Outside Magazine story has a "total elevation change of more than 20,000 feet". All these numbers are a little suspect and some climbers may use different routes to bag all the summits. The distance should be greater than the round-trip distance of the Owen-Spalding route.


2016 Grand Traverse Speed Record

On August 16th, Canadian runner & climber Nick Elson, 32, broke the 16-year-old speed record for the Grand Traverse by nailing a time of 6:30:49. Eric Carter took some of the photos. Eric ran a round-trip up the Grand Teton and back to Lupine Meadows in under 3.5 hours on the day before Nick made his record Grand Traverse run.
Here's Nick at the Double Chimney

"I set off just after 6am and reached the summit of Teewinot in 1:23. I reached the summit of the Grand in 3:18, soloing carefully on the Italian Cracks. It was great to pass Mark @smileysproject here guiding the traverse as he had also helped me out with some great local knowledge.

I'm a fairly cautious person and I like to think that I kept the risk at a reasonable level, but as I jogged across the "catwalk" while eating a gel I did manage to elicit a plea of "please don't die" from a member of one of the nearby roped teams.

From the lower saddle, I was able to make good time. I think that having rambled around in the mountains since childhood has made me pretty comfortable on the type of 3rd and 4th class terrain that is prevalent on the traverse.

I arrived at the summit of Middle in 4:01 and Nez Perce in 5:31. I made my only routefinding mistake descending, but before long was kicking off some impressive rock slides going down to the meadows. When I finally hit the smooth trail, I tripped and fell flat on my face. From there I ran down the trail and mostly avoided hip-checking any hikers. I finished in a time of 6:30:49."  Nick Elson

In other 2016 GT news: From August 1 to 3, 70-year-old Lee Sheftel of Carbondale, Colorado, completed the Grand Traverse with partner Greg Collins of Victor, Idaho. In 2014, Collins also guided the youngest person to ski the Grand Teton, 15-year-old Sasha Johnstone, and he guided the youngest person to climb the Exum Ridge, 6-year-old Beo Charette. Collins was also on the first "ski descent" of the GT's North Face. We wouldn't call it a ski descent but whatever.

Alpinist Magazine covered both Grand Traverse events.


Climbing Resources
Alpinist Magazine Facebook
Alpinist Magazine
American Alpine Institute
Rock & Ice Magazine
Mountain Project
Android App for Knots 
Animated Knots
Adventure Journal
Outside Online - Climbing
2016 23rd Annual International Climbers Festival 
(on July 13th-16th, 2016 in lander Wyoming)
Central Wyoming Climbing Alliance
....more later



The Sky,-110.8024,15
The center line is solar noon - 13:28 on June 30, 2015.

In June, the sun sets in the northwest and burns the Owen-Spalding route clean, or tries to. Near the fall equinox, the sun sets almost directly in the west and the route burns off slowly. In the winter, it's a dark cold place with the sun setting in the southwest. The Upper Exum faces south so the sun hits it all the time. JH's September Equinox is on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 8:22 AM MDT. The March Equinox is on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 10:31 PM MDT.
Position of the Sun in the sky at 43° N

2016 Perihelion: Jan 2 22:49 
2016 Equinoxes: Mar 20 04:30 / Sept 22 14:21 
2016 Aphelion: July 4 16:24 
2016 Solstices: June 20 22:34  /  Dec 21 10:44
Times & dates are Universal Time
Subtract 6 hours to get a summer MDT. Calculator

Meteor Showers for 2016
January 3-4, 2016 Quadrantids
April 21-22, 2016 Lyrids
May 5-6, 2016 Eta Aquarids
July 28-29, 2016 Delta Aquarids
August 11-12, 2016 Perseids
October 7, 2016 Draconids
October 20-21, 2016 Orionids
November 4-5, 2016 South Taurids
November 11-12, 2016 North Taurids
November 16-17, 2016 Leonids
December 13-14, 2016 Geminids
2016 Moon Phases. (New Moon is dark sky)

Visibility: Standard Visual Range (Chart)
Current Fires.'s Fire & Smoke map
Astronomy Information for Moose, WY
EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2016
Wyoming Star Gazing
Sky Map for Jackson Hole
JH Clear Sky Chart
Clear Sky Google Map
NASA Night Sky Network (Home page)
Current Moon Phase Chart
 The North Star - Polaris Wiki
NPS Night Skies
Sky at a glance
See the Northern Lights from Jackson Hole
3-Day Aurora Borealis Forecast & 30 Minute Forecast
Aurora Wiki

The 2017 (2017!) Total Solar Eclipse over Jackson Hole at 11:36am


What's the height of the Grand Teton?

The 'official' NGS height is 13,775'.
GTNP uses 13,770'.
The latest 2015 USGS map has the height between 13,680 and 13,760'.
That saves you some climbing time.

The 2015 USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle maps for Wyoming are available for a free download at the USGS store. Here's a direct link to the 2015 Grand Teton 7.5 minute quadrangle. It is downloaded as a zip file from the USGS. It unpacks as a GeoPDF file. It's a layered image that contains aerial photographs, contours, etc. The 2012 GeoPDF maps did not include trails. The 2015 maps have some trails but not all. The standard PDF (much older) maps often show more trails and you can download them too. The USGS updates these GeoPDF maps on a three year cycle. There are several smart-phone apps that allow you to view the GeoPDF's. Older phones may be too slow to load and pan the images. The TIFF & JPG image files may be best for older phones and newer ones given that they currently have more details related to trails.

Teton Range USGS Topographic Maps 
For viewing the GeoPDF maps within
Adobe Reader use the TerraGo Toolbar.
USGS Video about GeoPDF Maps
Magnetic Declination Calculator

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 - Jackson Streets
Bing Maps
Google Maps - GT aerial image
Open Street Map
USGS Earth Explorer
Current Declination at Jackson - 6-2016
GTNP: 11° 38' E  ± 0° 22'  changing by  0° 7' W per year

You have a better chance of seeing Old Faithful from the Grand Teton if you're looking in the morning when the air is cool and clear. You may even see it with the naked eye.


~ Accidents & Safety ~

Many talented climbers have been seriously injured and killed in the Tetons. Professional guides and their clients have died while climbing here. There are times when climbers make decisions that seem reasonable but Murphy's Law plays out like a bad dream. When conditions are bad, or the weather is unstable, you should take into consideration the very real possibility that accidents will happen as you finalize your game plan - more so than under good conditions and good weather. It might be easy to handle an emergency under good conditions but near impossible under poor conditions. And a rescue under poor conditions or bad weather is never good and may not be possible.

2015 Accidents

Most injuries go unreported like twisted ankles and abrasions. On October 12, Millie Jimenez fell 45 feet down a rock slab in Avalanche Canyon (GTNP NR). On August 31, Anthony McCormack slid down a rock slab while descending the South Fork of Garnet Canyon (GTNP NR). On August 29, Justin Bodrero took a 200-foot fall over a snowfield & boulders while descending the Middle Teton  (GTNP NR). On August 22, Tyler Strandberg and Catherine Nix fell to their death while on Teewinot (GTNP NR). On the same day, a hiker pulls a "suitcase-sized" rock down on himself while in Avalanche Canyon. Eight climbers were stranded overnight in Stettner Couloir on August 15-16 (GTNP NR). On August 11, Grand Teton National Park rangers conducted a short-haul rescue of two climbers from the Middle Teton (GTNP NR). Two Jackson climbers, Jordan Lister & Carrie Schwartz, were injured on Saturday July 25th after taking a slide on snow & rocks while on the south face of the Middle Teton (GTNP NR). On July 22, a dislodged boulder hit Tucker Zibilich and broke his arm while en route to the Grand Teton's Upper Saddle (13,200 feet) (GTNP NR). On July 7, Michael Polmear was climbing the Middle Teton’s Black Dike when a boulder dislodged from the mountain and struck his left arm (JHN&G). On June 9th, Charlie Emerson was solo climbing a 4th class rated rock slab when he slipped and slid approximately 150-200 feet before coming to rest in a snowfield at the base of the rock feature (GTNP NR). Two skiers died on Mt Moran on May 17th (Backcountry Mag).

2016 Accidents

On Saturday July 23, Exum Mountain Guide Gary Falk fell from the top of the Owen Spalding Rappel into Valhalla Canyon near the Black Ice Couloir. On the same day, Rangers also responded to a rescue of a 25-year-old woman from Walker, Michigan who was hiking in the south fork of Garnet Canyon and fell on snow and was severely injured. On August 9th, two 20-year-old male climbers ascending the Petzoldt Ridge became stranded on a ledge after one of the men took a 25-foot spill. On Aug. 10th, a 30-year-old Russian man was attempting to climb 12,605-foot Mount Moran and had to be rescued after figuring out he was in over his head. He was cited for “creating a hazardous condition." JHN&G Story

 Climber with a dislocated shoulder resting while on her way to the Lower Saddle.

Exum Mountain Guides assisting
a non-client with a blown knee.

According to, the leading cause of death in Grand Teton National Park is unroped climbing and it's often on non-technical terrain. Death by avalanche comes in second - mostly skiers. Falling on snow is the second leading cause of death for climbers. Most fatalities happen on the Grand Teton. The data isn't shared online so we're not sure how they break down the numbers. Would an unroped person who is injured on non-technical terrain be called an injured climber or an injured hiker? Would they be soloing? Their data is fairly meaningless without more context.

People will often wax-poetic about taking risks in life until their own near-death experience which, not unexpectedly, they will then use to wax-poetic about how precious life is. For some goals, evaluating risks is like gathering facts from a shadow. More than likely; however, we know the risk. We misjudge our ability to manage it or throw some caution to the wind. You can get a feel for the fantastic ways that climbers injure and kill themselves by reading the online version of Accidents in North American Mountaineering.


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.
Dangerous runoff is possible.
Falling snow slabs are possible.
Falling ice is possible.
Freezing fog is possible.
Freezing rain is possible.
Death is possible.

Protect your eyes and skin from the damage of high-elevation sun exposure.
The sun's intensity increases at a rate of 4-10 percent per 1000' feet above sea level.
The intensity varies with the time of day, snow cover, cloud cover, your location on the Earth, etc.

Don't forget that rockfall is a serious hazard at any time but it's much more active during wet weather and freeze & thaw cycles. The day after wet weather is also a prime time for new rockfall. Human-caused rockfall is common directly below other climbers in scree fields, chimneys, raps, etc. Also, afternoon thunderstorms are common in the Tetons.

Altitude Sickness

The body needs time to adjust to higher elevations. The reduced air pressure means thinner air, or less oxygen. At 14,000 ft. the air has about 43% less oxygen than at sea level for the same volume of air. 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.



The NWS's recreational forecast has a long history of inaccurate temperature predictions for the Lower Saddle & the summit. We know this because we can look at actual temperature data from the Lower Saddle's weather station and compare it to the forecast highs and lows. A forecast that's off by 7 degrees is not uncommon. The temperatures at the summit are often near 32°F and climbers would like to know if new ice or snow is to be expected. Those conditions are difficult to estimate if the forecast is off by 7 degrees.

We also know that a forecast for showers may just mean a 5 minute storm that passes two miles to the south of the Grand Teton. It's important to examine a forecast carefully. Keep an eye out for rainfall totals. The NWS's hourly forecast shows expected precipitation totals. If the forecast shows a 60% chance of rain but only .01" of rain is expected, then you know that a big storm is not on the horizon but the odds are good that a short shower will appear somewhere in the Tetons.

The word "isolated" in the NWS forecast refers to showers that are few and far between, only 10% to 20% of the forecast area will receive measurable rainfall. "Scattered" refers to the range of 30% to 50% coverage. Neither refers to intensity, amount, or time. The NWS does forecast a rain quantity in the hourly forecast graph and if you run your mouse over the graph, you will see hourly percentages at the bottom of the graphs. Weather can be difficult to predict around the Grand Teton and a 70% chance of bad weather may never materalize while a 20% chance of bad weather does. Be on the lookout for some terms like Monsoonal moisture, low pressure, and cold fronts which can produce very unstable and dangerous weather.

Afternoon thunderstorms are fairly common in the Tetons.
 Don't group together during a storm.
Deaths from lightning strikes around Jackson Hole.

Reading the weather is a nice skill but even the best meteorologists and climbers can get it wrong. Sometimes the weather looks bad but it passes by with nothing more than a little wind and shade. This is common, unfortunately. It's also common to get caught off guard. Storms can develop right at the edge of the Tetons. And develop quickly. 'Safety First' means you should retreat to a safer location if you have any doubts about the weather. It's always the right call. 'Summit First' means you might get cooked. In 2010, 17 people decided to climb this mountain in bad weather. The result was the largest Search & Rescue in the Park's history. And one death. Learn from their mistake.

~ Forecasts and Observations ~
Riverton, Wy NWS Twitter Feed
Pacific & western USA Satellite
NWS's US Radar Loop Map
US Satellite Visible Loop
US Temps Radar Sat Map
Localized Radar Map (ID)
The Idaho Radar has better mapping of
the western side of the Tetons. Most
of our weather comes from the west.
Localized Radar Map (WY)
The localized WY Radar doesn't
properly cover the Teton Range.
Northern Rockies Radar
Western US Loop Sat/Rad
US Surface Maps & Observations
Google Weather Hazards Map
Weather Underground Interactive Map
 Lower Saddle Weather Station
Real-Time Lightning Map - National 
Lower Saddle's 2-day Hourly Forecast
Valley Floor to Summit NWS Recreational Forecast for GTNP
Grand Teton National Park: Weather over the past 10-days
Wyoming Rain Totals 
7-day Forecast at Saddle
Area Webcams
Weather Access Map from
Moonrise & Moonset times for GTNP Jackson Forecast
Intellicast Weather & Natural Disasters Map
JH Airport Observations
Driggs, ID Airport Observations
Weather and Hazards Data Viewer Observations Map JH Observations Blog
NOAA's Online School for Weather
Mountain Weather for hikers, skiers, and climbers 
NOAA Jackson Weather Radio: 162.525
NOAA Map of Jackson Coverage Area (PDF)
 Teton County Weather Station
NWS Forecast Office Riverton, WY
JH Historical Averages
Recent Timbered Island, Grand Targhee, and Alta precipitation data. 
Predictions - Temp & Precip
Weather Outlook 
Central Rockies Snow Depths
NCRS Snow Depth Map
Precipitation Map
Rain to Snow conversion info.
WW Weather Support Page

~ Weather Telephone Numbers ~
NOAA: 1-800-211-1448 Ask for the weather near the Grand Teton.
GTNP Weather Line: 307.739.3611

NOAA - National Weather Service - Riverton Office
Western and Central Wyoming
12744 West U.S. Hwy 26
Riverton, WY 82501

The Lower Saddle's weather station and the recreational forecast are only available during the summer months. 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 on a few of the warmest nights. There are days when the summit hits 60°F (shaded temperature) but these are rare. Most high temperatures don't arrive until after 4:00 pm. Although it's not common, climbers can experience hypothermia during the summer. Frostbite is less of an issue but frostnip is possible. There were only 24 consecutive days above 32°F during the summer of 2015 at the valley floor in GTNP.
The Catwalk - Mid-afternoon August 9th, 2015.

In July of 1993, 6 feet of snow fell at the Lower Saddle (11,600') and it was the coldest & wettest summer on record in Jackson, WY.

There are days when the temperature at the Jackson Hole Airport and the temperature at the Lower Saddle are within a degree of one another. Inversions are also possible at any time of year. The National Weather Service almost always forecasts a 8°F difference between the saddle and summit no matter what the weather or time of day. And their low temperature difference between the valley floor and the summit is rarely more than 13°. The temperature difference can be influenced by topology, wind patterns, cloud cover, time of day, etc.

Heavy mist 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. Of course, the temperature can change dramatically as a cold front, bad weather, or 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.

2015 Lower Saddle Weather Observations

Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton - weather station
Lower Saddle temperatures between July 17 and August 19.
 Lower Saddle Temperatures Summer 2015 - (7-3 to 9-22)
Lower Saddle Wind Speeds Summer 2015 - (7-3 to 9-22).
Wind Chill Index

The wind can blow pretty hard at the Lower Saddle. Gusts reached 75 mph on August 21, 2015. The Lower Saddle's wind speed was a constant 30 mph the next morning and the temperature was 31°F at 6 am. That makes for a 15°F wind-chill temperature. If you're unprepared for a cold windy day on the Grand Teton, you're likely to turn around after a whole lot of effort & time on the approach. The cold can be deadly. Hypothermia took the lives of several Grand Teton climbers in 1985 and hypothermia ultimately took the life of Gary Miller in 2013.

During the summer, it is not uncommon for overnight summit temperatures to drop below freezing after a rain storm. Thin ice on the summit block tends to burn off in a few hours, or less, once direct sunshine arrives the next morning. Shaded ice may need a full day, or longer, to burn off. Direct sunlight won't reach the west-facing Owen-Spalding route in a timely manner; however, warm summer temperatures usually clear thin ice off the critical climbing holds by 12:00 noon if they were dry before the storm. Additionally, it's fairly easy to shatter that thin ice with a loose rock (or this) by noon.

Most climbers are not bringing crampons to the Grand Teton during the summer but sometimes you need them. You can rent crampons at several locations around Jackson Hole including from Moosely Mountaineering inside GTNP by the Moose Entrance at the Dornan's shopping & dining area. Mountaineering rentals are fairly inexpensive at all the rental locations. Shoulder-season climbers should be prepared to travel with an ice axe and crampons.


~ Satellite Based Emergency Communication ~
They all have drawbacks and benefits - research carefully.
 Personal Locator Beacons (ResQLink) rent for $10/day at Teton Backcountry Rentals
US Coast Guard Information on EPIRB's.
~ Products ~
SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger
Delorme inReach Explorer 2-Way Satellite Communicator
ACR Electronics ResQLink GPS Personal Locator Beacon
McMurdo Fastfind
Iridium GO!

~ Cell Phones ~
Customers who use Verizon, AT&T, Sprint,
and T-Mobile can text 911 in Teton County. 
Cell phones have reached towers from the
summit of the Grand Teton and from a few areas
 inside Garnet Canyon like the Lower Saddle. 
A text message may be easier to send.

~ Local VHF Radio Frequencies (MHz) ~
~ These frequencies haven't been confirmed. ~

It's unlikely that a broadcast from Garnet Canyon will reach anyone. You might reach a pilot with an aviation radio or the Driggs Airport's CTAF channel from the Lower Saddle. For the most part, two-way radios are best used for communications between members of a climbing party. The wind can make "On Belay!" sound like "Szossoozzzayy!" A two-way radio can make communications more peaceful and safer.

 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
Aviation Distress Channel: 121.5
International Distress EPIRB: 406 MHz
Mutual Aid: 154.875
Teton County Search & Rescue

155.22, Tx/Rx Tone 100.0
The agencies below use repeaters & Rx/Tx tone codes
Teton Dispatch GTNP Repeater
 Rx: 171.675, Tx: 172.425
171.675 is the channel used for most communications in GTNP.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
N Rx:
169.125 / N Tx: 171.3875
Tx: 169.9, W Rx: 166.225
Targhee National Forest
Yellowstone NP
163.1 / S 165.5875 / 168.35
TCSO Dispatch

~ Weather ~ 
NOAA Jackson Weather Radio: 162.525
NOAA Map of Jackson Coverage Area (PDF)
NOAA Yellowstone Weather Radio: 162.45
Driggs, Idaho weather radio 162.450

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
International Distress: 406 MHz
The 406 MHz EPIRB was designed to operate with satellites and
has been designated internationally only for distress. 

Speaking of the airport....
Launching, landing or operating an
unmanned aircraft, such as a drone, within
Grand Teton National Park is prohibited.
See the Laws & Policies of GTNP

- more will be added as time permits -

The south aspect of the Grand Teton

The UXM is best free-soloed by climbers with experience free-soloing similar routes but that's not to say that everyone needs to fall into that category. When dry, variations can lower the Upper Exum's rating from 5.5 to that of the Owen-Spalding's 5.4 rating; however, it's not the recommended route for mountaineers who want the easiest route under good conditions.  

Exum Ridge as seen from Lower Saddle

You can take any line you wish to reach the Friction Pitch.

The Jern Dihedral is the most common way to reach the start of the Friction Pitch. The Jern is the JLCR's moniker for the crack after climbing guide Ken Jern slipped on ice and fell 50ft down its face. You can watch Ken point out the location in this great soloing video. Most climbers use the Jern to access the Friction Pitch but options abound. You can bypass the Jern and the Friction Pitch (FP) via the Western Chimney, the FP Bypass, and the PNG Dihedral. The book A Climbers Guide to the Teton Range rated the Puff-n-Grunt (PNG) at 5.6 to 5.7; however, to us, it mostly feels like a 5.4 with two very short cruxes that only feel like a 5.6 if you're climbing in non-climbing shoes as we often do. Your rating may vary. The FPB is more of a low 5.X scramble but it can throw you a loop near the top if you pick the 'wrong' line to exit. It has some loose rock, too.

 Overview of approach to the Friction Pitch

View from the base of Friction Pitch.

Climbing guides often advise climbers to climb to the two knobs just above the belay ledge and then move slightly right to a shallow grove to get past the Friction Pitch's short crux. You may decide that's not for you. Tall climbers with a long reach and sticky climbing shoes will have the most options. If you're on a rope, it really doesn't matter which way you go unless you're on the crestline. If you take a fall toward the east - off the crestline - you will pendulum swing into the Puff-n-Grunt Dihedral.

Looking down the Friction Pitch from just above its crux.

Close up of the crux of the Friction Pitch from the small ledge at its termination.
There has been a piton stuck in the rock on the west side of the ledge for many many years.

Friction Pitch and variations.

Access to the Jern can be made in several ways: Left-facing Corner, Western Chimney, Boulder Pitch near the crest, etc. You can bypass the Jern by heading up the Western Chimney if the Jern is backed up with slow-moving climbers. The exit to the belay ledge at the base of the Friction Pitch is at an 'obvious' opening. You might find an old cam stuck in the rock at this location. That exit might be more difficult than the Jern for some climbers. Other exits from the Western Chimney are possible. Some exits look easy until you're fully committed and then you realize they aren't that easy. Of course, you could also try the eastern crest of the ridge if you are comfortable doing so. The full eastern crest will be harder than the Jern. Our favorite bypass is to climb along the western crest of the Jern Dihedral - along the top of the Jern's western side. That variation is not marked in the above image but it's where the words 'Jern Dihedral' are. We access it from the base of the Western Chimney but you can access it from an eastern approach. Choose any line that you can comfortably climb. They are all fun.


Why free-solo the Upper Exum or Owen-Spalding climbing routes?

You can sleep in. You climb on any day you want. You (well, not everyone) can easily make a round-trip in single day. You can go at your own pace and enjoy some solitude. You can travel further and stay stronger when you're carrying less weight. You can easily move past other climbers. You can focus on the rock and not on the mechanics of roped climbing. You can skip the expensive camping permit. You can skip the expensive gear. You can skip the expensive guide. There's a freedom that you can't get from being tied to the mountain or other climbers. It's a far more enjoyable experience for many. Older, injured, or physically weaker climbers may not be able to carry gear or travel on time-lengthy trips. You may not have the time for multi-day climbing activities. You might recover more quickly. You can have the summit to yourself (sometimes).

Free-soloing has its inherent dangers as does any activity but it's relativity safe if you're climbing within your comfort zone and taking obvious precautions like avoiding bad weather, terrain traps, and poor conditions. The best investment you can make if you wish to solo these routes and don't mind spending some money will be a nice pair of climbing shoes - probably approach shoes. We solo the UXM & OS in just about any type of outdoor shoe but a good pair of sticky climbing shoes will boost your confidence & safety on the rock. 

Being prepared for the unexpected means having a Plan B. Sometimes Plan B is a rope (and helmet) and a lead climber. A foothold might suddenly give way. Wind may knock you off balance. Verglas might be mistaken for dry rock. Rockfall may hit you. A handhold might come loose. You might lose you focus. You might even have a medical emergency while climbing.

Ropes can compensate for the natural ability of humans to make mistakes, and for nature's ability to sabotage our safety. They don't guarantee your safety, of course, but there's a good reason that the world's most talented climbers, & least talented, use ropes. Besides safety, the best reason for using a rope is that you're more likely to really test & improve your climbing skills with the safety that a rope affords. Ropes can also get you past tricky situations in a hurry.

There aren't too many circumstances where free-soloing the Grand Teton is safer than roping up but one situation can arise when you need to escape the mountain while under the threat of incoming storms. Roped climbers can easily take double the time it takes a free-soloing climber to cover the same dry terrain. Aggressive free-soloing climbers can get from the Grand Teton's summit to the Upper Saddle in under 12 minutes when the route is dry. Rumor has it that the summit to the Lower Saddle was once done in 12 minutes (very hard to believe) by Garibotti who held the FKT for the Grand Traverse until 2016. I'm not sure that his feet touched the ground at that speed but that remarkable time was once reported in the now defunct website as true.

Climbing by yourself used to be illegal in GTNP. In the 1930's, when Paul Petzoldt was running the first guiding concession in Grand Teton National Park ($8/day in 1937), climbing alone was prohibited. By the way, accounting for inflation, that $8 a day for a guided climb in 1937 would cost about $132 today. Nowadays, GTNP's current climbing concessionaires provide a fine, although upper-class-expensive, introduction to climbing in the Tetons.


A complete collection of marked up route photos will be posted over time for permanent future reference but the blog is not publishing new posts.

Enjoy Safe Climbing