Grand Teton Climbing Conditions - Upper Exum & Owen Spalding - June 19, 2016

Ascent of the Upper Exum & descent of the Owen Spalding
The Grand Teton on June 19th, 2016

New Route Photos for 2017

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Overview of the approach to the Lower Saddle

The Upper Exum (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.  

Trip photos in order of appearance ...

Lupine Meadows' Parking Lot.
This lot overflows quickly during the height of the summer.

Along the climbers' trail.

Sow with cubs....only one cub in photo.
The Sow was digging up a tree.

Not much in the way of good skiing.
He was headed for the Spoon Couloir

That time of year....Flowers everywhere

First Boulder Field

This is by the Platforms Camping Zone & Garnet Creek. The trail disappears in the boulders but restarts by the creek. Start by heading west into the boulders at the sign and then head SW ...and west ...and southish to regain the trail. You'll get it one way or the other.

Platforms Camping Zone

The junction to the Meadows Camping Zone

The summer climbers' trail stays to the north of the creek and runs by Spalding Falls up some switchbacks and stairs.

The Meadows Camping Zone

This is seen from the summer trail by Spalding Falls.

Spalding Falls

Looking toward Irene's Arete (5.8) - center right

South Fork of Garnet Canyon

Summer Climbers' Trail

Petzoldt's Caves Camping Zone.
This is home to a spring of clean cold water.

Variation off the climbers' trail to avoid some snow.

This is along the path used to get to Irene's Arete but we head west instead of heading back east.

Small red dots mark our snow crosssing.

This route took us back to the trail above the Caves.
Switchbacks run between here and the Meadows.

We took a winter variation on the way back down.

East Face Grand Teton

Middle Teton Glacier (upper mid-left)
Lower Saddle & Morainal Camping Zone

 Morainal Camping Zone

The first camping spot is by this sign and the trail starts up again by this sign after exiting the 2nd Boulder Field where the trail disappears for 100' or so.

2nd Boulder Field

You may see the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides camping hut at the crest of the slope on the northern side of the trail. It's between Disappointment Peak & Teepe Pillar. (It's just out of sight in this image) 

Camping spot directly in front of photographer.

Looking back

Camping spots can be hard to see.
There are many many spots for camping.

 The bootpack at the headwall

The snow wasn't in the best shape when we arrived (late in the morning - closer to noon).

The Fixed Rope wasn't being used.
It may be available before July.

View toward the Upper Saddle from the Lower Saddle

View of the Grand Teton's south aspect

Lower Saddle

The water hose

Exum & Ranger's huts. Not public huts.

The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Route Overview

Approach to the Upper Exum from the Lower Saddle

View toward Valhalla Traverse

There are camping spots on the western side of the saddle.

View toward the Western Ribs

We only saw a few climbers.

It looked like one person had been on the Upper Exum recently (only one track in the snowy areas).

Some climbers have been running right up the main drainage

We took the Briggs Slab.
The Eye of the Needle is plugged with snow

Briggs' Slab

You are looking up at the drainage that is really just an extension of the Chockstone Chimney that runs to the ridgeline of the Central Rib. It's here that you can access the Lower Crossover to Wall Street. We are just 'behind' the Needle.

Looking up at the Central Rib's Bench

Lower Crossover point on the Central Rib's ridgeline.

The couloir's snow will probably be icy hard in the morning

Wall Street Couloir's snow crossing

Wall Street

The Upper Exum Climbing Route

Upper end of Wall Street - nearing the Step Across

Step Across at the end of Wall Street. We took the lower ledge.

Step Across

Step Across

Golden Stair

Step Across

Minor 'boulder' problem just above the Golden Stair

This is also a location to rap back down to Wall Street if you should need to. A 60m rope works fine.

View toward the Enclosure from the Exum Ridge

Access to the WT

Flake at the entrance to the Wind Tunnel

Wind Tunnel's Boulder Problems

Wind Tunnel's Boulder Problems

Wind Tunnel Gully

Carmen's Pinnacle - a detour if you're bored

Wind Tunnel Gully

Looking over at the Ford Couloir

Friction-Pitch Bypass Chimney - far right
Puff-n-Grunt dihedral - far left

Western Chimney

This is west of the Jern & Friction Pitch.

Jern Dihedral leading to the Friction Pitch

Friction Pitch - far left (western) side

Middle view of FP

View up the western side of the Friction Pitch

Friction Pitch's eastern side. The Knob Line is the most common line.

 Friction Pitch

There are several ways to exit the Western Chimney. It can also be used to bypass the Friction Pitch. Most climbers use the Jern to reach the Friction Pitch. The easiest way to bypass the Friction Pitch is the eastern Friction-Pitch Bypass Chimney.

Friction Pitch - looking back at the small ledge (darker grayish rock) above the crux of the FP.


The Notch Gully

This is just above the Friction Pitch (& Puff-n-Grunt, FP Bypass Chimney).

V-Pitch at top of ridge

View back toward Ford Couloir

Looking across the Ford at the East Ridge


Looking down the ridgeline from just below the V-Pitch. The Ford Couloir is far left.

Snow in V-Pitch


Above V-Pitch.

The ledge system just to the west (unseen) is an easy escape to the Main Rap to the Upper Saddle. Head down until you reach a low point in the ledge system (small drainage running west). The Main Rap Overlook will be just to your west.

The L-Shaped Notch

The LSN is to the northeast of the WLC but you can go directly to the ridgeline after the West-Leaning Crack and run along the ridgeline (Boulder Problem in the Sky).

L-Shaped notch.

You can turn east at notch and climb to the Boulder Problem in the Sky. Or climb down into a gully and then back up to the ridge to bypass the BPITS. The bypass is not necessarily easier if conditions are poor. You can also reach the bypass from a location right below the BPITS.

View of scramble to the ridgeline toward the BPITS

Not too difficult as far as cracks go but exposed.

Looking down the southern jam crack

High Class climbing shoes for crackn'

The Horse. Looking North along the Grand Teton's upper ridgeline

Stay on the eastern side of the ridge and go under the Horse. Scramble up to the summit on its northern side.

Jackson Lake as seen from the summit.

Delta, Surprise, Amphitheater, Bradley, & Taggart lakes

 East Ridge


Lupine Meadows Parking Lot


The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Route Overview

Overview of the Owen-Spalding's variations & the upper part of the Exum ridge.

The Downclimb

 Western aspect just below summit.

This is the view of the Owen-Spalding approach just below the summit on the western aspect. Photo taken from the summit. Climbers descend to the SW. The Slabby Wall is directly below the Horse. You can use a narrow ledge above the Slabby Wall to switchback around it. Once you're below the Slabby Wall, look for it's big center crack which will point toward Sargent's (and back to the summit). Follow an easy line down the mountain until the scrambling stops. Look to your south for Sargent's Chimney (there's a rap) or it's alternative exit (Hidden Exit). The top of the Hidden Exit is a small chute.

We scrambled down to the narrow 'switchback' ledge above the Slabby Wall on the descent.

The narrow ledge is along the top of the southern-half of the Slabby Wall

View toward 'switchback' to SE to bypass the Slabby Wall

Sargent's Rap slings

Sargent's Chimney

Alternate Exit from Sargent's Chimney

NW corner crack of the Hidden Exit. You take this to leave Sargent's main chimney, or re-enter.

Just a short walk between the Owen & Sargent's. The northern wall at the base of Sargent's lines up with the top of the Owen Chimney.

Owen Chimney

Owen Chimney

Crux of Owen Chimney.

Owen Chimney

Owen Chimney


Looking down into the Double Chimney's Open-'V'.

Looking at the southeast variation to reach the Catwalk after exiting the Double Chimney.

Looking down the 1st Entrance of the Double Chimmey

Tunnel & Open-'V' in DC

Looking down from the 2nd Entrance toward the ledge variation.

Double Chimney area

1st Entrance to the Double Chimney - Pull-up move

Looking down from the Crawl

The Crawl - looking southish

The Crawl - looking northish

View toward Belly Roll

The Belly Roll - looking southish

Belly Roll - looking northish

Belly Roll

Upper Saddle as seen from the Belly Roll area - looking southish

Looking up at the alternate 2x70' raps area

Main Rappel area

Exit off the upper eastern side of the Upper Saddle (southern exit)

Exit off the upper eastern side of the Upper Saddle (southern exit)

Exit off the upper eastern side of the Upper Saddle (southern exit)

Southern access to the Upper Saddle's upper eastern side.

We took the Boulder Access during April & May due to snow conditions.

We took the Black Rock Chimney but the main drainage would have been fine.

Central Rib far right (east)

Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

Ramp off of the Central Rib's ridgeline

Smooth slab by the access to the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

The Briggs Slab is by the Chockstone Chimney

Looking down the Chockstone Chimney

Central Rib's Bench is center-right

We took the Briggs' Slab up and down

Chockstone Chimney

So many variations in and out of the Chockstone Chimney's bottom half.

We went up the drainage and around the rock band (to the right in photo) to reach the Briggs Slab. The Chockstone Chimney is at the bottom right corner of the image.

This western side of the Needle is usually icy but it's still the best way up and down. Lower Saddle in background.

The Black Dike and the Needle (center)

View from the Lower Saddle toward the Grand Teton

We took the winter route on the way down. We took a variation of the summer route on the way up.

Meadows' Headwall

Avoid this drainage.

North Fork of Garnet Canyon - Meadows' Headwall

 Spalding Falls

The summer climbers' trail runs to the NE of Spalding Falls and the above it to the NW.

Enjoy Safe Climbing