The 2017 Grand Teton Climbing Season

Winter Diversions

Climbing Information: 307-739-3604
Backcountry Camping Permits:  307-739-3309
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. 

GTNP Website
GTNP'S  Winter Park Guide
GTNP'S  Winter Map
GTNP'S Trip Planner webpage
GTNP Visitor Information: 307-739-3300
Email GTNP:
GTNP Twitter Updates


Forecasts & Observations

The NWS is updating their website on March 7, 2017. 
Some links may not function until we update them.

Avalanche Forecast  —  View Field ObservationsTeton Specific
Snow Avalanche Guidance from Riverton's National Weather Service 
Temps & Wind Speeds above 10,000 ft - Rendezvous Summit
National Weather Service (NWS) Lower Saddle Hourly Forecast 11,600'
National Weather Service (NWS) Lower Saddle 5-Day Forecast's Forecast for the Grand Teton's summit 13,775''s Forecast near the Lower Saddle's elevation
Remember, forecast temperatures are temperatures in the shade. 
GTNP Weather at the valley floor over the past 10-days
Weather: 307-739-3611 or 1-800-211-1448 
The NWS has a free online weather course.  
NWS's Forecast for JH - NWS's WY Twitter Feed
WeatherUnderground's Forecast for JH


News & Events:  Dick Pownall passed away on Dec. 6, 2016. He was instrumental in pioneering some of the rock-climbing routes in the Teton Range. In 2002, at the age of 75, Pownall returned to Wyoming and climbed the Grand Teton one last time. The Pownall-Gilkey Route (5.8) up the west face of the Grand is an alternative to the busy & easier Owen-Spalding route.

The Ouray Ice Festival is Jan. 19-22.  The 2017 Cody Ice Festival is Feb. 10-12.  The Red Rock Rendezvous is March 24 - 27. The International Climbers' Festival in Lander, WY, is July 12-16. Entrance to the National Parks is free on January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and February 20: Presidents' Day. The Adventure Journal ran a story on Personal Locator Beacons. The Daily Mail ran a story on a free-soloing climber free of gear and clothes in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest. ran a story called 'When Feminism Goes Too Far' just in time for the Trump nauguration.

We noticed this image from the National Weather Service which shows the height of the Grand Teton at 13,781'. Funny thing about the NWS maps is that they start out with metric units until you zoom in. The metric units have the Grand at 4194 meters which is about 13760'.,-110.802413942

All GTNP visitor centers are closed for the winter. Park information can be obtained by visiting the Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center in Jackson, Wyoming, or by calling 307-739-3399, 10 am - 4 pm, Mon. - Sat. For wildlife viewing opportunities, visit Mike Jackson's website Backcountry reservations for the summer season are now being accepted from the first Wednesday in January (starting 8 am MST) through May 15.

The interior park road is closed at the Taggart Lake parking area so you must start you trip from there if you wish to climb the Grand. The Bradley Lake bridge that allows hikers access to the upper Burned Wagon Gulch is not in service so don't bother using that hiking trail unless you wish to ford the crossing.
A few winter variations for Garnet Canyon access.

Most folks ski across Bradley Lake to access Garnet Canyon once the lakes freeze over and snow covers the valley floor. The most common winter route runs along the southern side of Garnet Creek once you're further inside Garnet Canyon. You will find a well-used skin track on the south side. There is a slight ridgeline between Bradley & Taggart lakes that runs up Shadow Peak. You could take that ridge to the west and then go across the steep slopes at the entrance to Garnet Canyon but it's not necessarily your best option. That route needs plenty of compacted stable snow on the NE slopes and you need to know the route otherwise you'll end up in some messy terrain - it is faster if you know what you're doing. Most people just go across the lake. Some options are safer and easier than others. Choose wisely given the conditions.

The local avalanche center does not forecast the avalanche hazards above 10.000'; however, reports of avalanche activity and pit reports in Garnet Canyon can sometimes be found on their website. Our general feeling about avalanche forecasts and in-field assessments for higher elevations is that they are a poor safety guide unless the threat is obviously high.

It's wise to keep in mind that the so-called backcountry experts get it wrong time and time again. They are quick to blame the inherent dangers instead of themselves. More often than not, poor judgment is to blame. Either way, the backcountry doesn't care about your skill set, intelligence, fitness, or preparation. It doesn't advertise its threats with neon arrows. Go forth with the certainty that you may not come back.

Local climber & writer Molly Loomis, with her late husband Andy Tyson, published an exceptional book on rescuing yourself from backcountry climbing mishaps. NOLS, over in Lander, WY, has many training programs related to wilderness medical care. Basic avalanche courses are available in Jackson from many sources. If those are too pricey, they are, pick up a book at the Teton County Library and take advantage of the many free online resources. 

The American Alpine Club's 2016 Accidents in North American Climbing has some nice coverage about common accidents on a Grand Teton climb. Read their story: Danger Zones: Grand Teton.

A few trip reports for April through October

July 17th, 2016 (UXM) PNG Variation 

All images may be used without permission or attribution for all not-for-profit purposes.

Record rainfall, close to 6 inches, kept many climbers off the mountain in October, 2016, but a few opportunities arose for the adventurous during early November as the conditions and the weather improved greatly. The usual result of all that funky weather is an icy start to the summer climbing season. We also had the second-snowiest December on record.

Expect poor winter road conditions in GTNP.

The NPS does not put salt on the roads and it's rare to find sand. Safety First is NOT their priority but it can be yours if you slow down. The highways that WYDOT maintains aren't much better. The Town of Jackson also does a poor job. If you want to see how the pros do it, drive across the Wyoming - Idaho border. During a 20 day period, Park Rangers responded to over 50 motor vehicle accidents in GTNP between mid-Dec and January. Of course they did.

WYDOT Road Conditions (Mobile links) or call 511
Hwy 22 Webcams. Hwy 89 Webcams.
Get Teton County Nixel Alerts via txt msg by
texting your ZIP CODE to 888777 for mobile alerts.

~ It hard to stop quickly for wildlife on icy roads ~

A grizzly bear was struck and killed by driver in Grand Teton National Park on October 30th, 2016. Collisions with vehicles kill over 100 large animals in GTNP, and over 1,000,000 in the USA, every year.
Winter Closures in GTNP: YELLOW AREAS and Highlighted Roads

 ~ Weather ~
Today's National Weather Forecast

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. These images don't tell you when (am or pm) a storm will arrive and they should only be used to identify large weather patterns. Small Rain / T'Storms may not be represented like late afternoon summer thunderstorms commonly seen in the Tetons.

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.
Rendezvous Bowl snowfall last 7 days

JHMR'S snowfall layers (modeled) at the Rendezvous Bowl, 9,603 ft.
BTAC's Actual snow layer details.
JHMR's Snow Report - Webcams
Snowfall at various stations last 24 hours - Valley Snowfall Graphs

 GTGW4's recent precip (water) totals at the valley floor just east of the Garnet Canyon.
JHMR's Snow Report - Webcams

We suspect that this weather station (GTGW4) is manually updated on a inconsistent schedule during the winter. Sometimes it will show precip when none has fallen so we are guessing that the gauge may be manually read and updated whenever they get around to it. There's another station in GTNP that has wild temperature readings. You can't trust the weatherman (or GTNP) or their data.

Current National Radar
 You must refresh the page to see new image

Short Range Forecast - 6 hours

Time is in a 24hr format: 1424z is 14:24 or 2:24pm (00 means midnight). 'Z' means Zulu time or UTC time + 0 hours. Mountain Standard Time is 7 hours behind UTC. Information on weather graphics.

~ Teton Pass Webcams ~

Check the dates in the upper left corner. When offline, WYDOT will often display the last image captured.

Top of Hwy 22 on Teton Pass - looking NE
Hwy 22 Webcams. Hwy 89 Webcams.

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.
And sometimes webcams are down for the winter

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.

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

View from the top of Snow King of  Jackson Hole
Live Streaming

Town Square - Jackson WY   Live Feed

The view west toward Mount Moran from the Buffalo River Valley.
Current Visibility in Grand Teton National Park

~ Climbing & Backcountry Information ~

All requests for advance backcountry reservations must be submitted using the website between the first Wednesday in January (starting 8 am MST) through May 15. Customers will be able to view backcountry campsite availability in real-time and apply for reservations accordingly. You will be charged a $35 non-refundable processing fee for each trip upon completion of your reservation.

The park will reserve up to one-third of each camping zone in advance and save two-thirds of each zone for those who wish to get a first-come, first-served permit in person one day before the start of a backcountry trip (walk-in permit). Those who do not secure an advanced reservation may still apply for a walk-in permit. During peak season (July and August), competition for these walk-in permits is high. There is a $25 fee for each walk-in backcountry permit.

Any backcountry permit involving technical climbing or mountaineering and any backcountry permit for Garnet Canyon must be picked up at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. They are open early June through early September.

The American Alpine Club's Climbers' Ranch in GTNP opens June 10th, 2017, and it will close on September 11, 2017.

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

~ Visitor Centers ~

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

Free internet access is available at many locations including the Teton County Library, all coffee shops, Dornan's in Moose, the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose, some START buses, the JH-Teton County Recreation Center, McDonalds, K-Mart, Quiznos, and at the JH Airport. The Visitor Center in Jackson may also have free WiFi. There is no internet access at the Climbers' Ranch except what you can get on a smartphone.

~ The 2017 entrance fee-free days

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents' Day
April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

~ 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
Best Climbs Grand Teton National Park
Find books at your library

All books are available at the Teton County Library and Some older and fascinating guide books are also available. The American Alpine Club's 2016 Accidents in North American Climbing covers common accidents on the Grand Teton in their story Danger Zones: Grand Teton. The Grand Teton is covered in issue 33 of Alpinist Magazine.

~ 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

~ Hitchhiking ~

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. JPD Twitter Feed, TCSO Twitter Feed, Highway Patrol Twitter FeedGTNP Twitter Feed, Teton County Jail Mugshots.

~ Biking ~

The pathways are only open to bikes between 1/2 hour before sunrise & 1/2 hour after sunset. Pathways run from the Town of Jackson to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

~ 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 Wildlife Winter Closure Maps
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

~ Bears ~
Bears can be active throughout November and sometimes December.
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. Keep in mind that a grizzly bear will defend its cubs far more aggressively than a black bear. If a black bear sends it's cubs up a tree, you're in its comfort zone. Move on.  Bear Safety

"During interactions with humans, most bears exhibit considerable tolerance and restraint, consequently, interactions between people and bears often have no negative consequences for either, particularly if people act appropriately around bears. Habituated bears generally tolerate people in close proximity without being aggressive toward people. However, even habituated bears have a personal space that they monitor and may defend, so there are numerous examples of habituated bears injuring people when those people have pushed the bear’s tolerance too far. In 2007 one person was injured in GRTE by an otherwise well-habituated grizzly bear that perceived a threat to itself or its cubs."  Grant MacHutchon, Wildlife Biologist at A. Grant MacHutchon Consulting for 28 years. You can read his 'Human-Bear Interaction Risk Assessment' study on bears in the Moose-Wilson corridor (which cost the NPS $21,700).

~ Other Stuff ~
Weather info is further below.

 Tristan's Teton Aerial Photos
Jack's Teton Aerial Photos
GTNP Laws & Policies
Grand Teton Summit Registers
National Parks Conservation Association
Wyoming Wilderness Information
The Wilderness Society
Wyoming Wilderness Assoc 
 Discover Grand Teton
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Caribou-Targhee National Forest
Jedediah Smith Wilderness
Teton Wilderness
National Elk Refuge
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 misleading.
NPS News
Best of the Tetons - Outstanding Photo Blog - nice site about plants in the Tetons.
Firearms in Grand Teton National Park.
There's a 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
Snow King Trail Map
Teton Pass Trail Map
JH Friends of Pathways Maps
Teton Valley ID, Trails & Pathways Maps
 Idaho Alpine Club Maps
Wyoming Webcam Index

~ Showers & Laundry ~

Showers are 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. Another laundromat is scheduled to re-open in 2017 in the Grand Teton Plaza area behind First Interstate Bank.

~ Earthquakes ~

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

~ Fire ~

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 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 ~  Owen-Spalding via Catwalk  Owen-Spalding via Owen Chimney Owen-Spalding  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.
Conditions forced her to retreat twice.
She soloed the ascent.


~ The Grand Teton Triathlon ~

The GTT involves biking from Jackson's town square to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park, swimming from the Jenny Lake Overlook on the eastern shoreline to the western shoreline, climbing the Grand Teton and then doing the whole thing in reverse for a total of 42 miles of biking, 2.6 miles of open water swimming, and 20 miles of hiking and climbing. This is not a sanctioned race with a set date. It's more like an FKT event to test yourself or an all-day picnic with lots of exercise.

Julia Heemstra, at 42, was the first woman to complete the Grand Teton Triathlon (The Picnic) solo and unsupported. She finished in 14 hours and 47 minutes. It helps to be a former masters-level swimmer and robust climber.

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. Unless you're a Jimmy Sorensen or swim the Trans Tahoe Relay every year, 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.

~ Climbers ~

Paul Petzoldt, with no climbing experience, first climbed the Grand in 1924 at the age of 16 while wearing cowboy boots. In 1931, an 18-year-old Glenn Exum borrowed a pair of leather-cleated football shoes two sizes too big from Paul and went on to on-sight and free soloing the Upper Exum route. He leaped across the exposure at the end of Wall Street. ''We did everything wrong,'' Mr. Petzoldt said. Today, they would probably be ticketed by the park rangers for “creating a hazardous condition” with their bold ground-breaking adventures.

Like many of today's climbers, Petzoldt was eager to document his climbs. The first known movie of an ascent on the Grand was in 1930 when 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 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.
Making the rest of us look & feel old.

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.
Kira Brazinski busting loose on the summit in 2016 with a handstand.
Ms. Brazinski has only one fully functioning leg.

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 middle-age runners.

'Stearnie' Clarence Stearns - John Schwartz - Jim Huidekoper Sr  Around 1960.
Got an old photo? Send it our way and we'll post it to our archives.

~ 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
It's 2,172 feet to the Summit from the Lower Saddle (elevation change, not distance)

We have no idea if the distances are correct.

~ How Long Will It Take To Climb The Grand Teton ~

If you're not free-soloing, it may seem like forever. We'll assume you're traveling light, you know the route, you're acclimatized, conditions are good, you're fit, and you're free-soloing. Experienced climbers who are walking will usually give themselves 5 hours to summit from the Lupine Meadows trailhead. Out at Teton Village, if you can reach the JHMR's Tram on Rendezvous Mountain from the parking lot (4,139 ft elevation gain) using all the trail shortcuts in under 90 minutes then we're betting that you can easily clock a 7-hour round-trip on the Grand Teton. 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 summer daylight hours while walking at a nice pace. If you can top out on Snow King in under 23 minutes, then a 6 hour round-trip is possible.

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.

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 things like sleep & solitude, your skill set & fitness level, your choice to free-solo or rope up, your acclimatization to the elevation, and the environmental conditions.

If you leave at sunrise, you need to be fast enough to get off the summit block before afternoon thunderstorms become a safety hazard. If the weather is perfect, free-soloing climbers might leave as late as noon to allow overnight ice to burn off and get back before dark. Make sure you have a headlamp if you leave later in 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, or a crowded mountain after lunchtime.

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 as can route-finding in the dark. It is colder in the morning and you're more likely to find verglas. If you don't mind a cold, dark, early-morning ascent then you can certainly follow the slow-moving climbing concessionaires, or any other party, if they are on a route you wish to climb. Those early starts make for some nice photography.

~ 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 if you're in a hurry.

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.

~ 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 FKT 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

Also in 2016: From August 1 to 3, 70-year-old Lee Sheftel of Carbondale, Colorado, completed the Grand Traverse with partner Greg Collins. 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.

~ Climbing Resources ~

Alpinist Magazine
American Alpine Club
American Alpine Institute
Rock & Ice Magazine
Mountain Project
Adventure Journal
Outside Online - Climbing
2017 24th Annual International Climbers Festival 
(on July 12-16, 2017 in lander Wyoming)
Central Wyoming Climbing Alliance
Grand Teton Links & Stats
GTNP Peaks
Alpinist Magazine (#33) profiles The Grand Teton
Google Upper Exum
Google Owen-Spalding  
Upper Exum Soloing Video
GTNP's e-climb of the Grand Teton
Grand Traverse  Pataclimb .com
Outside Mag  2012 Grand Traverse
We like Mark P Thomas' work...
Teton Grand Slam & Lower Exum TR
Android App for Knots 
Animated Knots Website

 International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation
International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations
American Mountain Guides Association
Professional Ski Instructors of America
American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education
 National Outdoor Leadership School
 Journal of the Wilderness Medical Society
Mountain Rescue Association
Backcountry Rescue Insurance Providers
Global Rescue

 ~ Blogs & Podcasts ~

Reddit Climbing

~ 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. Garnet Canyon doesn't see too much sun during the winter because the sun is low in the southern sky for most of the day which means it's behind Nez Perce, etc.
Position of the Sun in the sky at 43° N

~ Celestial Events ~

 2017 Perihelion: Jan 4 7:17
2017 Aphelion: July 3 2:11
2017 Equinoxes: Mar 20 10:28 / Sept 22 20:02 Universal Time
2017 Solstices: June 21 4:24 / Dec 21 16:28 Universal Time
Subtract 6 hours from UT to get a summer MDT in Jackson. Calculator.
MDT starts on Sunday, March 12, 2017 and will end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 5.

~ Meteor Showers Peak Nights for 2017 ~
Northern Hemisphere

January 3-4, Quadrantids
April 22-23, Lyrids
May 6-7, Eta Aquarids
July 27-28 Alpha Capricornids
August 11-12, Perseids
October 8, Draconids
October 21-22, Orionids
November 11-12, North Taurids
November 17-18, Leonids
December 13-14, Geminids
December 21-22,  Ursids
Moon Phases in GTNP

~ Celestial Links ~

Visibility: Standard Visual Range (Chart)
Current Fires.'s Fire & Smoke map
Astronomy Information for Moose, WY
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

We find that the times can be off by 5 minutes.
For a more complete list, follow the link below
Spot the International Space Station in GTNP
The ISS disappears when the sun no longer reflects off its exterior.

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 unless you believe the the 2017 map data in the National Weather Service's forecast page. Their height had two different values: 13,781' and also 13760' depending upon the zoom level.

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 (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
USGS National Map Viewer
USGS Earth Explorer
USGS Store - & Free Downloads
USGS TopoView
USGS Wyoming Maps
Google Earth
Google Maps - Jackson Streets
Bing Maps
Google Maps - GT aerial image
Open Street Map

This map shows the names of various features around the Grand Teton.
 Download - 1.56MB  -  Download - 2.56MB  with a few more features.

Note that the South Couloir of the Middle Teton is often called the Chouinard Couloir. The western boundary of the South Couloir is the Chouinard Ridge as defined in A Climbers Guide to the Teton Range. It's difficult to exactly locate some features on a topo map so keep that in mind.

~ National Forest MVUM Maps ~

These are now available for your mobile device.
Avenza System Inc has an app for viewing:

2016 Bridger-Teton Motor Vehicle Use Maps
Please note it might take a while to load on your computer.
Over-Snow Vehicle Use Map (OSVUM) - Front Section Only
Over-Snow Vehicle Use Map (OSVUM) - Back Section Only

Caribou-Targhee National Forest Maps
MVUM &  Visitor Maps
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.

"Many of our clients are exhausted and at the limits of their abilities, and they make mistakes. What this means is that our clients are trying to kill each other, they're trying to kill themselves, and they're trying to kill you. Each of us needs to remember this at all times. That's our job." Dave Carman, Exum Mountain Guides, as told in the Outside Magazine story “The House of Rock". 

If you're on a guided climb, keep in mind that every climber has a responsibility to look after their own safety and the safety of others not only because guides often make incorrect assumptions about everyone's safety but because it's your job.

~ 2015 Accidents ~

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. Rene Dreiling lost his life after taking a fall onto a rocky cliff band beneath steep snow fields on the north side of Mount Owen. His body was found on September 4. JHN&G story.

 Climber with a dislocated shoulder resting while on her way to the Lower Saddle.
This is actually a common injury. You might want to read up on resetting a dislocated joint.

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

Most injuries go unreported like muscle & tendon strains, torn ligaments, dislocated fingers, and minor cuts & abrasions. 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. FYI: They have changed the name to Accidents in North American Climbing.


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 not uncommon. 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.

Diamox, AKA: acetazolamide, is used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. You'll need a prescription. Apparently, stuff like Viagra has also been used for the same purpose but the research is sketchy. Here's an Outside Magazine story on doping climbers.


~ Weather ~

The NWS's recreational forecast for GTNP 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 10 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. As we all know, a 70% chance of bad weather may never materialize while a 20% chance of bad weather does.

Slightly unstable weather is like a game of dice in Vegas. You may know the odds but you don't know how game will play out. If the forecast discussion mentions monsoonal moisture, low pressure, or a cold front then that should raise a red flag. Those conditions can produce very unstable and dangerous weather.

Most people who look at the forecast below would reconsider their climbing plans. We examined the forecast more closely and decided it was going to be a nice day. It was.
 This was the actual forecast. We went climbing.

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.

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. It's common to get caught off guard. Storms can develop right at the edge of the Tetons. And develop quickly. Exum Mountain Guides had a group of high school students on the Grand Teton's summit ridgeline when a blast of white lightning shot through the air. They didn't see it coming and you may never see it coming. '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 ~

MANY of the pages that these hyperlinks point to are being replaced by the NWS in 2017. Some other links have changed and we will be replacing them in 2017. 

 Lower Saddle Weather Station
NWS 7-day Forecast at Saddle
NWS Lower Saddle's 2-day Hourly Forecast
NWS Recreational Forecast for GTNP
Grand Teton National Park: Weather over the past 10-days
Recent Timbered Island, Grand Targhee, and Alta precipitation data. - Weather Access Map from - JH Observations - Jackson Forecast
JH Airport Observations
Driggs, ID Airport Observations
 Localized Radar Map (ID)

The Idaho weather radar has better mapping of the western side of the Tetons. Most of our weather comes from the west. The localized Wyoming weather radar doesn't properly cover the Teton Range.
  Pacific & western USA Satellite
NWS US Radar Loop Map
 Wyoming Rain Totals
NWS Forecast Office Riverton, WY
NWS Riverton, WY Twitter Feed

Area Webcams
Moonrise & Moonset times for GTNP
NWS Weather and Hazards Data Viewer Observations Map
NWS Online School for Weather
NWS Jackson Weather Radio: 162.525
NWS  Grant Village Yellowstone: 162.450
NWS  Driggs ID: 162.450
Teton County Weather Station
JH Historical Averages
NWS  Predictions - Temp & Precip
NWS's Weather Outlook
NWS  Central Rockies Snow Depths
NCRS Snow Depth Map
NWS  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 3:00 pm. Although the occurrence is not common, climbers can experience hypothermia & frostbite during the summer. Wet clothes loose much of their insulating properties and a breeze can greatly increase the rate of heat loss so hypothermia can happen in air temperatures at up to 50°F if you're wet and it's windy.
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. Temperature inversions can have a 40°F spread between the valley floor and 10,000' during the winter.  

During the summer, the National Weather Service will almost always forecasts a 8°F difference between the Lower 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°.

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.
Historical Weather 1958-2012

Keep in mind that the days get colder and shorter as we roll through summer. You'll have about 16 hours of daylight during the 2nd-to-last week in June when the summer solstice arrives in GTNP. You'll find more snow at the lower elevations in the month of June compared to September; however, the June days are longer and warmer. June usually gets more thunderstorms but September's storms typically bring snow and ice that sticks around. These two months are considered the shoulder season for climbing in GTNP. The high season is July & August. Outside of these four months, the mountain is a very quiet place.

2015 & 2016 Lower Saddle Weather Observations
 Lower Saddle Temperatures Summer 2015 -11,600'
 Lower Saddle Temperatures Summer 2016 - 11,600'

The hottest day of the year is, on average, July 16, with a high of 79°F and a low of 48°F.
Lower Saddle Wind Speeds Summer 2015 - 11,600'

Climbers have been killed & injured by wind gusts while climbing the Grand Teton.
 Lower Saddle Wind Speeds Summer 2016 - 11,600'
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 and axes 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
You used to be able to Listen Live to JAC here
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.
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


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. 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 gear 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 your focus. You might lose your way. You might even have a medical emergency while climbing like Conrad Anker. Anything can happen, without warning, anywhere, anytime, even on the most familiar terrain.

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.

Free-soloing climbers move faster then protected climbers and that is often an advantage when the weather window is short. 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.

This is one of the few web portals for climbers that isn't intended to promote products or the author. The only thing we promote is free-soloing the Grand Teton as safely and as efficiently as possible.

Enjoy Safe Climbing