Marked-Up Grand Teton Climbing Route Images

Upper Exum & Owen-Spalding 
Climbing Routes


Overview - Upper Exum
Overview - Owen-Spalding
Detailed Look At Specific Route Features

All of our images may be used without permission or attribution for all not-for-profit purposes. We don't really care who uses our images if they are explicitly used to assist climbers.

~ Maps ~

The links to Google Drive will give you the option to download an image of higher quality. Currently, a smaller lower-quality image is often presented if you click on an image.
Camping Sites in Garnet Canyon

The snow routes all have natural hazards. Choose wisely. The red route closer to the Middle Teton in the picture above is the most common route used by climbers when snow covers the canyon floor. As the snow starts to melt off, climbers may take a variation of the summer trail to avoid patches of snow. Skiers are more likely to skin up near the summer trail to reach routes by Teepe Glacier & Disappointment Peak. Again, choose wisely given the conditions.

Elevation Profile of the climbers' trail and climb.
Not the most accurate data but close enough.

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 about 2,175 feet from the Lower Saddle to the Summit (elevation, not distance traveled)

We have no idea if the distances are correct.

A Snowy Garnet Canyon

The climbers' trail to the Lower Saddle is typically clear of snow in early July if the past winter had an average snow year. If the previous winter was massive, you could find patchy snow into August. The steep sun-baked Upper Exum cleans up fairly quickly and often before the climbers' trail. The Owen-Spalding route is slower to melt off and pockets of ice can be glued to it all summer long. Most of that ice is easily avoided or easily managed. The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers can tell you when the climbers' trail is free of snow and when the climbing routes are dry (or near their best).

In raw numbers, more climbers are injured or killed on the Grand Teton than any other peak in the range. That's probably because it sees the most traffic and because the easiest route on the Grand is more technical than easiest route on the Middle Teton which is the second most popular peak in the Tetons. Percentage-wise, the Middle Teton may see more rescues per climber but no one actually knows how many ascents take place. It would not surprise us to find out that it sees more injuries and deaths per visitor for a 3rd to 4th-class climb than any other mountain in the Rockies if you include the approach.

Individuals who wish to climb the Middle Teton usually head up the South Fork of Garnet Canyon for the South Col that sits between the Middle & South Teton. The easiest route to the summit is the SW Couloir which attracts many non-climbers. It's considered a 3rd or 4th-class ascent depending upon the conditions. Accidents involving slips on snow are very common on and around the Middle Teton. In 2015, Justin Bodrero, 21, fell while descending the Middle Teton’s Southwest Couloir and slid about 100 feet on a snowfield and then another 100 feet through a boulder field.

In 1997, an Analysis of Backcountry Accidents in Grand Teton National Park was released by the University of Wyoming. A newer report by George and Michelle Montopoli compiled data from incident reports in Grand Teton National Park and they provided some of their insights to WyoFile in 2016. The American Alpine Club looked at accidents on the Grand Teton over its climbing history and published some of the data in their 2016 Accidents in North American Climbing publication. We'll take a wild guess and say that one out of every 5000 climbs in the Tetons results in a serious accident. If you want to get hurt in the Tetons, go skiing or mountain biking.
 Winter Access to Garnet Canyon

Most folks ski across Bradley Lake to access Garnet Canyon once the lakes freeze over and snow covers the 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 which can be used to access Garnet Canyon but it's not necessarily your best option (it can be a faster 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.
GTNP Headquarters

The Administration building is across the street from the Visitor Center near the Moose Entrance. If you're camping during the winter, you need to stop by the Administration building to pick up a permit during regular business hours M-F. An intercom is used to gain access inside the building. You can contact Park Dispatch at 307-739-3301 and have a ranger meet you if you need to pick up a permit during the weekend (Sat. & Sun.).

Lupine Meadows Trailhead

The Lupine Meadows trailhead is a popular area. The parking lot starts filling up at 5 AM during the height of the summer climbing season and it will be busier on the weekends. The Grand is not a place for solitude in July & August unless conditions are poor.

The South Jenny Lake visitor services area has a water bottle filling station that's available 24/7 during the summer. They have been remodeling so availability may be different in 2017. Water is available at many locations along the climbers' trail and many climbers will drink it unfiltered where springs originate. Of course, wildlife can contaminate all water sources. We never filter our water but we choose the source carefully. Some water sources will dry up as we roll through the summer season. You will always find water flowing from the spring above Spalding Falls & the Middle Teton Glacier.

The first junction along the climbers' trail.

Just above this junction are three sources of water along the first switchback. The first source dries up after the snow melts at higher elevations and should not be used for drinking unless it's filtered. It has the strongest flow during June or early July. The next two sources are spring fed right next to the trail and they are usually safe to drink. Decide for yourself. Remember to take extra water during the winter when sources are frozen or buried at higher elevations.

In the photo above, the upper end of the Burned Wagon Gulch trail is gained by following the white dots into the trees. The arrow points toward the BWG trail which runs down the gulch to the valley floor. There is a deer trail that splits off the BWG trail by this junction and it runs along the ridgeline. That deer trail is sometimes used by climbers when heavy snow covers the north aspect of the trail between here and the eastern end of the ridgeline.

The Burned Wagon Gulch trail doesn't see too much action. It starts from the road leading to the Climbers' Ranch. You'll see a dirt pullout just after crossing the bridge over Cottonwood Creek. It has limited trailhead parking (3 spaces). The narrow trail is often overgrown and you'll get soaked if dew is on the grass. Ticks may be a hazard. Downfall is common and the Park Service doesn't maintain it as often as other trails. It's also a little longer but it has the best approach views of the Tetons.

Climbers might be able to use the Teton Glacier Turnout from the Teton Park Road and hike over the footbridge (if it's still available) leading to the Lucas Homestead. From there you could access the BWG trail. You should know the area before trying this approach.

The First Boulder Field by the Platforms & Garnet Creek.

There are many boulder fields but there are only two boulder fields where the trail disappears in a significant way for 100 feet or so. The other location is at the start of the Morainal Camping Zone. In both locations the trail restarts from a point southwest of the ascending climbers. The trail to the 1st Boulder Field was one of the first trails to be constructed in Grand Teton National Park. It was built by Civilian Conservation Corps laborers around the mid-1930's. The trail beyond there was constructed in 1977.

 1st Boulder Field

Unconsolidated snow that covers the boulders will hide foot traps during the fall climbing season. Under those conditions, it's sometimes best to go high on the north slope of the canyon and around the boulder field. During the start of the summer season the snow in this area is well compacted and safer to walk on when compared to snow at the end of the season; nonetheless, early-season snow can be extremely slick and it's often unstable at the side of exposed rock.

 1st Boulder Field

This is the most common 'guided' path through the boulders when dry. Climbers can take any path they wish to.

 1st Boulder Field

The climbers' trail restarts next to Garnet Creek. If you are camping at the Platforms Camping Zone, sometimes it is easier to cross the creek further west of here.

The Meadows' Headwall

The photographer is just west of the Meadows Camping Zone in the above photo. You're looking up the North Fork of Garnet Canyon. Most climbers head up the Meadows' Headwall by the Middle Teton to reach the Lower Saddle (11,600') when snow covers this area; however, the route by Spalding Falls can be a viable option. One problem with that approach is that if you can't self-arrest after falling, or if you're caught in an avalanche, then you may go over a cliff.

Many many accidents have taken place around the Meadows' Headwall. In 2013, Gary Miller was descending the GREEN route shown above when he slid through a void in the snow and lost his life after being consumed by freezing water. Mark Anderson did the same thing in 1994. Things aren't any better in the South Fork of Garnet Canyon. Snow, ice, and water form a dangerous cocktail. Imbibe carefully.

The GREEN route shown in the previous image.

It's worth repeating that snow conditions can be nice & grippy or extremely dangerous and they can change quickly. Melting snow turns into running water which undercuts the snow and forms moats & voids. It can birth crevasses and fissures. Rock-snow interfaces become unstable. Snow & ice can fly off cliffs. Melting snow turns to ice overnight. Freeze & thaw cycles, and running water, increase the chances of rockfall. High temperatures can turn snow into torrents of slushy debris inside chutes that flush without much warning and with great force. Saturated snow is primed for wet slab avalanches. The best guides and the best climbers never assume the environment or the climber is safe. You are never safe.

Wait for a dry climbers' trail if you want to eliminate your exposure to snow. Sometimes a snow-free trail doesn't arrive until August; sometimes it's the first week of July. Again, a quick call to the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers will get you information about trail conditions or a visit to the JLCR's backcountry blog. You can stop by the office at the South Jenny Lake visitor services area during the summer. JLCR: 307.739.3343, 8-5pm MST during the peak of the summer. EMAIL:

The summer climbers' trail is on the north side of Garnet Creek and runs by Spalding Falls.

The Picnic Rock

This is by the Petzoldt's Caves Camping Zone and atop Spalding Falls. Paul Petzoldt used to camp at the Caves. We drink this spring water unfiltered.

More switchbacks - they go high on the hillside before heading west toward the Lower Saddle.

The view back toward Petzoldt's Caves & the Meadows.

You will get a break in the grade of the trail once you reach the top of these switchbacks. From this point, climbers will then traverse across the sloping scree field that runs below the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides' base camp while on their way to the Morainal Camping Zone.

Before reaching the Morainal Camping Zone, the trail will cross two drainages that are sources of water. The first drainage is right at the beginning of your traverse. Look for the wildflowers. Its water flows while the snow from the previous winter is melting and sometimes after periods of precipitation. The second source of water is about midway across your traverse. Sometimes you will see campers by the second drainage even though this is not a 'regulated' camping zone. Directly above the second drainage is the JHMG base camp - Corbet's.

 The drainage at the upper end of the switchbacks flows with snowmelt or the changing weather.

The trail goes slightly uphill for a very short distance after the second more-western drainage and then continues west toward the Morainal Camping Zone. Some people get off trail right after this drainage. The trail doesn't disappear until you get closer to the Morainal Camping Zone. At that point (at the 2nd Boulder Field), continue straight ahead until you see a sign above a small drainage to your south. That drainage sorta runs west to east. Scramble to the sign and regain the trail.

The 2nd Boulder Field

This is where the trail disappears for a 100' feet or so. Look for the sign to your south as you approach the Morainal Camping Zone and look for the first camping spot by the sign. We are looking East in this photo. Most campers in the MCZ get water from the Middle Teton Glacier's main drainage.

Overview of the 2nd Boulder Field area.

2nd Boulder Field

The Morainal Camping Zone

Some camping sites at the Moraines take a little effort to find. Most of the camping sites are a short distance off the trail to your left & right but some are out-of-sight or blend in with the surrounding. If you need water, you can get it from the Middle Teton Glacier and sometimes from a few nearby drainages. The drainage that runs from the Stettner Couloir and below the Glencoe Spire sometimes has a nice trickle of water. It's where the words "Northern Couloir" are in the photo above.

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.

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. There are bear boxes at the other camping sites. Feel free to donate a bear box for backcountry campers.

Early-season snow slides and rockfall are common

Avalanches out of the Stettner Couloir can cross the climbers' trail. The runout zone is just to the east of the Northern Couloir. In 2007, an avalanche of debris fell from the Stettner Couloir and cascaded across the Morainal Camping Zone. The dust cloud could be seen from the valley floor as rocks, some chest high, flew by two climbers who took shelter behind a large boulder. The only damage was to their tent and sleeping gear.

A bootpack up the Lower Saddle's headwall is used until the Fixed Rope becomes available. The Fixed Rope starts to get used once most of the snow has cleared off the climbers' trail. The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers will usually alert climbers through their blog if the Fixed Rope is being used. You can also call them at 307.739.3343.

Glissading the saddle's headwall is popular. Of course, not everyone glissades. Keep in mind that rocks can hide just under the snow's surface. Some soloing climbers will slide down the slope without using an axe when conditions are appropriate. Climbers can get hurt, and many have, if they lose control during a slide. In 1985 a climber gave himself a lethal self-inflicted axe wound while glissading the headwall. In case you need it, the American Alpine Club has a nice review of snow travel techniques.

As with the Meadows' headwall, the snow on the Saddle's headwall can be rock hard, nice and grippy, punchy, posthole-city, and a sloppy mess all in a single day.

The Fixed Rope at the Lower Saddle's Headwall

When dry, it's pretty easy to get up and down the headwall without using the Fixed Rope. The climbers' trail runs right to the Fixed Rope. This area is a drainage. It can get icy and the rope will be handy during those times. The rope also makes for a quick descent. Guides usually belay clients here so it's easy to get delayed behind other climbers. Early-season snow is usually very slick & unstable in this area. The headwall is a good place to put on a helmet. In July of 2015, Tucker Zibilich was hiking below the saddle when a boulder dislodged from higher up and crushed his arm. And David Perlman sustained significant injury from rockfall while hiking from the Fixed Rope to the top of the Lower Saddle in 2012. Additionally, there are many loose rocks near the Fixed Rope so exercise great care when moving around if other climbers are below you.

The first documented trip to the Lower Saddle was on July 29, 1872. Native Americans probably made it to the saddle way before then.

Looking back at the Moraines from the Lower Saddle.

The approach right below the Fixed Rope is sloppy & it's a good place to twist an ankle on descents. Mid-top shoes provide good ankle support, they keep pebbles out of you shoes, and they handle a little snow & water better the low-top shoes which are very popular on the Grand. This is a long approach so comfortable shoes are important. Poor shoe selection will ruin a trip. Shoes with slick soles will be a safety hazard. We climb in all sorts of shoes.

The trails are all over the place on the headwall.

One of the reasons for the many trails above the Fixed Rope is that the hiking options change as the snow melts off and climbers choose a new path. Just head southwest along the easiest trail to reach the top of the saddle. Climbers should avoid the drainage above the Fixed Rope. Again, stay on a path to the southwest to reach the top of the saddle. Climbers who hike off-trail often kick rocks on unsuspecting climbers below them. If snow covers everything, or it's the end of October & none is around, do whatever you want. You can also try climbing the rock on the North Buttress or hiking up the Northern Couloir but they are not the safest & easiest options, usually.

 A look at the climbers' trail at the Lower Saddle.

The climbers' trail splits into two forks as you approach the Black Dike from the saddle. We stay along the ridgeline route unless the snow or wind makes the other option better. Climbers headed for the Upper Exum & the Owen-Spalding take the same approach to the western side of the Needle. Climbers headed for the UXM follow a path behind the Needle and over the Central Rib to reach Wall Street (about 12,800'). Climbers headed for the the Owen-Spalding follow a path behind the Needle and up the Central Rib toward the Upper Saddle (about 13,200)'.

The view toward the Upper Saddle

A water hose sits in a drainage a short distance southeast of the Lower Saddle sign. While the water is usually safe to drink unfiltered, the hose can become contaminated where everyone touches it. Remember this before you shove it inside your water bottle. This water source can dry up late in the summer but precipitation during September can also bring it back to life. This area is a sheet of ice during any extended bout of below-freezing weather because of the surface water.

There are bear boxes for food storage at the Lower Saddle. Closer to the western side of the saddle, you'll find a gear hanger should you wish to drop some weight. The hanger is next to the trail.

Some ferocious winds blow at the saddle. Those winds usually die down as you pass the Needle but if you struggle to stay upright while walking at the saddle, then you should obviously re-examine your climbing plans. Sometimes you can keep tabs on the Lower Saddle's wind speeds and temperatures with a smartphone at the saddle. The saddle's weather station is only operational during the summer and sometimes it can be difficult to get a cell signal at the saddle.

Do not count on using the 2 huts at the Lower Saddle for shelter. They are not public shelters but they sometimes accommodate climbers during lightning storms. Keep in mind that while natural shelters offer protection from rain and hail, they do not provide protection from lightning.

There's a 'rest stop' on the western side of the Lower Saddle that can be used for privacy but it is not an outhouse. You're required to pack human waste off the saddle. Dsposable zip-lock Mylar bags are often used. You can bury waste 6-8 inches and 200' away from wetlands in less traveled areas of the park. Bags are available with a camping permit at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. Additionally, if you need to piss in the wind, do so on the western side of the saddle so you don't contaminate the water source. There are camping spots on the western slope of the saddle so choose a location to relieve yourself carefully if you're not using the rest stop.

View of the southern aspect of the Grand Teton

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 often cleans up fairly quickly once the temperatures start rising. If you made it this far, it's often worth staying around if the weather is looking nice throughout the day. The slow-boaters dragging anchors may want to turn around.

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'll assume you're fit. 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.

The area between the Lower & Upper Saddles

Close-up view of the Black Dike below the Needle

We stay very close to the base of the Central Rib's Needle as we approach the Chockstone Chimney. We avoid being low in the drainages.

 Looking NE from the southeastern side of the Needle

Avoid using the drainage on the eastern side of the Needle. It can be used; however, conditions are often poor and it's a rockfall terrain trap as you enter the drainage. Almost every climber takes a path on the western side of the Needle.

The route marked with BLUE dots is Not Recommended.

You can use any path you want to get from the Lower to the Upper Saddle. Some variations 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 all the drainages. You should be prepared to retreat or take more difficult deviations if snow covers the mountain.

Many many variations but these are the most common.
Briggs' Slab or the Eye of the Needle

Overview of the Central Rib between the Lower & Upper Saddles

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.

The far western side of the Needle - often icy.

Packed snow & ice may make crampons or shoe spikes a necessity but they aren't fun to climb in during the summer and they have their own safety issues. Kahtoola NANOspikes and similar products work with tennis shoes in case that's something you want to consider. Crampons won't make much of a purchase on the ice that is typically found on the Grand during the summer (thin verglas) but if you insist on climbing they can still help you get past sketchy sections if you know what you're doing. Crampons are highly recommended for crossing the bulletproof snow that is sometimes found in places like the Wall Street Couloir early in the season. Moosley Mountaineering in GTNP & Teton Mountaineering in Jackson rent crampons and ice axes.

More often than not, we just carry a small screw driver during the peak summer season, or grab a rock, and chip away at an icy spot to clear a small hold; however, we also know the mountain well enough to utilize variations around nasty spots. You might not have that advantage. Obviously, an icy mountain is a dangerous place for all climbers. Guides have taken falls on ice and so have their clients. If you're not used to mixed conditions, you might want to reconsider your climbing plans.

Jackson Hole Mountain Guide Allan Bard (44), also a highly respected & experienced guide of the Palisades School of Mountaineering in Bishop, California, died after slipping on ice and falling 200 feet while leading the Owen-Spalding Route's Double Chimney. Exum Mountain Guide Ken Jern slipped on ice as he approached the Friction Pitch on the Upper Exum Ridge and sustained serious injuries after taking a 50' fall.

If you see the guides turning back, you might want to follow them. Guides do have deadlines to meet and very conservative safety priorities so they may bail when conditions are perfectly acceptable for others; however, you should seriously re-examine your plans if they are retreating.

The Needle's Chockstone Chimney

When dry, just go straight up the Chimney or head for the Briggs Slab (green route). The Needle's Chockstone Chimney is a fairly easy ascent when dry; however, it is sloppy with loose rocks and it is harder to directly downclimb. In 2003, two climbers got stuck on the mountain for three days during a snowstorm. On their third day, climber Joe Hestick broke his hip and several ribs after taking a fall while descending the Chockstone Chimney.

The Briggs Slab is the most common route taken by guides.

To reach the slab, scramble past the Chockstone Chimney for a short distance and make a turn to the east when it's easy to do so by the Mini Black Dike. Head for the headwall of the Central Rib's Bench and work your way to its southern end. You'll see the slab above the Chockstone Chimney. We like the Chockstone Chimney if no one is above us because it has more interesting climbing options. The loose rocks in the chimney will keep us away if climbers are above us. We travel without a helmet.

Many variations.

Again, keep it simple and use the Chockstone Chimney to the Eye of the Needle or use the Briggs' Slab to gain the Central Rib's Bench. Once you gain the bench, head east to the ridgeline of the Central Rib to reach the Upper Exum Route via Wall Street; or, head north up the bench toward the Upper Saddle (OS Route) via the Black Rock Chimney or the Upper Western Rib. Stay away from rockfall zones - the drainages. Keep in mind that snow will plug the Eye's tunnel early in the season.

Another look at the Central Rib area

The main drainage

The drainage (Owen-Spalding Couloir) is not a common variation, It's often wet and icy and it's a rockfall terrain trap.

 Variations to access the bench

The SOP & COD are not common variations to access the CR's Bench.

Just another view of your options to access the Central Rib's Bench

The lower section of the Needle's Chockstone Chimney

Sometimes it's best to avoid the lower chimney during the downclimb by taking one of these variations, or the variation by the Briggs Slab (Middle Ledge). We're looking ESE.

Exit variations from the lower Chockstone Chimney

Chockstone Chimney / Briggs' Slab

Here's a look at the variations by the Middle Ledge of the Needle's Chockstone Chimney. We're looking northish from the south end of the Middle Ledge. The area below the Briggs Slab (BLUE & RED) is sketchy when covered in snow.

Looking southish at the upper variations in the Chockstone Chimney

 Another look at variations.

We're looking southish at the upper exits from the Chockstone Chimney. View from the Briggs' Slab. Most climbers go under the Belly-Roll-Almost when dry.

Exiting the Chockstone Chimney, Briggs' Slab, & Cracks of Doom area

Looking east after exiting the Briggs' Slab area.

We're looking toward the Lower & Upper Crossovers to reach Wall Street. The Upper Crossover drains to the Sack-O'-Potatoes. We only use the Upper Crossover if conditions force us to. Sometimes we will climb the Central Rib's eastern aspect just above the Upper Crossover. If we are running laps on the UXM, we usually scramble down the Wall Street Couloir to get back on Wall Street.

View from the Central Rib's Bench - looking southish.

The Lower Crossover

We're looking east from the Lower Crossover toward the UXM's Wall Street. Just three feet to the south of the crossover is a slab leading down to the eastern aspect of the Needle which provides access to the Lower Saddle, or vice-versa. See next picture.

 The slab below the Lower Crossover

This is Not A Recommended Route but it's your choice. This slab tops out at the Lower Crossover to Wall Street. The route starts on the eastern side of the Needle. It is a fairly easy ascent from the Lower Saddle; however, it's often icy & it's a rockfall terrain trap. Time wise, it's not much different than the standard route. Downclimbing is really not recommended.

 Access to Wall Street

Head across the Wall Street Couloir (AKA Exum Gully) & scramble up the scree-filled Wall Street Gully. Be careful in that gully if others are below you or above you. It's a serious rockfall hazard.

Wall Street Rappel.

Avoid rapping down to the skinny upper section of Wall Street. From the rappel setup, you can see the wider part of the LZ on Wall Street.

The Crossovers to Wall Street.
Eastern aspect of the Central Rib - looking west.

The Crossovers to Wall Street.

There are several overviews of the Upper Exum Route near the bottom of this page. The rest of the Upper Exum Route can be found on our Upper Exum Climbing Route page. UXM climbers need to know the Owen-Spalding Route for the downclimb. The following images continue the route to the Upper Saddle for Owen-Spalding climbers.

The Central Rib's features

The bench area is just a scramble. A scramble closer to the ridgeline is often safer due to the rockfall hazards from other climbers above you if you are at a lower position.

Access to the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney.

Climb a short chimney next to the smooth vertical slab, take a steppy ramp to the east and at the ridgeline climb up the black rock on the western aspect of the ridge.

The Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

This area is directly east of the access to the Upper Western Rib from the Central Rib's Bench. You'll see black-colored rock along a slight western extension of the Central Rib and you'll see a smooth slab of reddish orange rock (see above) facing west along the Central Rib at the point where you access the Black Rock Chimney. It is directly east of the spot where you easily cross the drainage to reach the Upper Western Rib. The Black Rock Chimney is our preferred route but the Upper Western Rib sees a lot of action including from guides. It's a natural line to follow whereas the Black Rock Chimney isn't an obvious line.  There is some loose rock in the BRC - test your holds. That drainage between the Central Rib and the Upper Western Rib that's directly west of here sometimes has running water in case you're thirsty.

 The Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

This is the ramp above the short chimney to gain the Black Rock Chimney where it runs just below the ridgeline on the western aspect of the Central Rib.

The lower section of the Black Rock Chimney

 The Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney

The upper access to the Black Rock Chimney is at an bowl-like 'opening' in the Central Rib. Jim Williams was leading a client near the Black Rock Chimney in June of 2013, when the snow he was standing on gave way. Williams caught a crampon on the ice and sustained a leg injury. He managed to get his client to the Lower Saddle and then he was aerially evacuated. 

View back toward the Central Rib from the Upper Western Rib.

The entire drainage is a rockfall area. It's mostly climbers kicking down rocks. That's why most climbers (see picture) stay along the Upper Western Rib and avoid the drainage.

View of the Central Rib from an area near the Enclosure - looking SSE

Jackson Hole Mountain Guide Thomas Raymer was guiding Robert Slater down from the Upper Saddle in fresh snow when Slater's pack caught on a rock and they both feel 200 feet. Slater suffered minor injuries but Raymer was seriously injured and was carried out the following day. Raymer had a broken femur & talus, and severe scalp lacerations with part of the skull exposed.

 The upper Central Rib

This is the view north from the bowl-like 'opening' in the Central Rib just after exiting the Black Rock Chimney. The next image is a view down the drainage to the west (left) - the OS Couloir.

 The Owen-Spalding Couloir
AKA: The main drainage

Keep in mind that the snow may be stable enough for an ascent but unstable during a descent or vice-versa. In June of 1992, a climber lost control near the top of the Owen-Spalding Couloir. He went over some rock bands and ended up on the snow about 100 feet above the Black Dike with bilateral wrist fractures, a right side pneumothorax, and fractures of T-8, T-12 and C4-7 vertebrae. A helmet probably saved his life.

View toward the Upper Saddle (13,160 feet) from the Central Rib's Patio

View toward the Upper Saddle from the Exum Ridge

The Upper Saddle

This is the view of the Central Rib's Patio and the Upper Saddle from the Enclosure.

Access to the upper SE side of the Upper Saddle

We only take route #2 if the snow is unstable at 1 & 3.

A slightly more northern view of the same area in the previous photo.

As was pointed out above, we usually take the middle route when unstable snow is by the exposed areas. It's a little tricky but it's better than unstable snow above unforgiving exposure.

Mary Bilyeu was heading for the Pownall-Gilkey route (5.8 rating - just above here) while on a guided climb with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides when she fell to her death while negotiating the short exposed RED section above the Exum Gully. This is not an area where most climbers rope up (especially climbers about to do a 5.8 climb). Her death demonstrates once again that you have to be focused on every little thing you do. Take your time and make your moves with great thoughtfulness.

The view from the Enclosure of the Upper Saddle area

Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle

Access to the Raps  -  Sargent's & Main & Alternate

The Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle

Exum Mountain Guide Gary Falk lost his life after taking a fall from the top of the rappel and into Valhalla Canyon while leading a group of young adults in 2016 — GTNP Incident Report (pdf). Other climbers have taken falls off their ropes. Climbers have also been hit by rockfall below the raps. Exercise great care while walking around this area. If you're rappelling, use a helmet and be sure to get clear of the rockfall zone once you get off rope.

The alternative 2x70' raps are a little awkward. You can access the 2x70' rappel from above via some ledges and from below via a short chimney above the Main Rap's sling. Try not to kick the loose rocks on climbers below you. Some have claimed to have reached the second setup of the 2x70' raps from the Main Rap's sling by rapping over the gap to their south but we have never seen it done. 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+". The Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers often refer to it as the "100 ft rappel". 60 meters is 196.85ft. 30m = 98.42ft. With rope stretch, most climbers get by with a dynamic 60m rope. The bolted rings have a metal tag that's stamped 40m (the longest drop). The landing zone slopes downhill to the north so most climbers stay on a line just to the south of their departure. The rap rings on the sling, instead of the bolted rap rings, will put you on a line closer to the upper part of the landing zone. The majority of climbers fly with a 60m rope off the sling. Make sure your rope is truly 60m! Climbers have come up short with a "60m" rope that wasn't actually 60m.

Of course, climbers can simply rap down a single strand of a fat rope and have other climbers release their line afterwards, or they can share a rope. They can also free-solo to the saddle or use protection to downclimb the OS to the saddle. We always free-solo the entire route unless it isn't safe. If the route's dry, it's faster to free-solo the rest of the route than rappel unless a rap is ready to go. Climbers have been stranded on the Grand because they snagged a rope and didn't feel confident enough to free-solo or use a shortened rope to downclimb to the saddle.

The Upper Saddle

This is the view from the Owen-Spalding's exposed horizontal traverse. We are looking back at the Upper Saddle from the ledge between the Crawl & the Belly Roll along the west face of the Grand.

The path to the Belly Roll at the northeast corner of the Grand Teton's Upper Saddle

The rest of the Owen-Spalding Route can be found on our Owen-Spalding Climbing Route page. Overviews of the Owen-Spalding & Upper Exum Climbing Routes can be found below here.


Novice climbers who are unfamiliar with the Grand Teton should stick to the Owen-Spalding route and climb when conditions are dry and the weather is perfect. It's the quickest, shortest, and easiest climb on the Grand. It's easier to turn around if conditions sour or you become uncomfortable with the climb. By climbing up, you'll know the way down and what to expect. Additionally, the OS is a busy place and that's a good thing for safety and route finding. The Owen-Spalding route does require real effort and careful attention to your every move. The exposure is certainly psychologically challenging for many people.

The Upper Exum route is a little harder than the OS 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.

Keep in mind that the OS & UXM are not sustained 5.4 & 5.5 routes. Many sections of the route offer easier climbing & scrambles. Grading Rock Climbs Wiki & YDS at

The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route 
It's best to download a higher quality image from Google Drive
LOW - 1.9MB   -   MED - 3MB   -   HIGH - 11.2MB

The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route and parts of the Upper Exum
MED with less detail - 2MB   or    LOW - 1MB   or    MED - 1.7MB

The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route and the Upper Exum's upper SE ridgeline route.
LOW - 1MB   or   MED - 2MB    or    HIGH - 9MB

The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route and The Upper Exum's upper SE ridgeline route
LOW - 829KB   or   MED - 1.61MB

The Owen-Spalding Climbing Route on the Grand Teton's western aspect

Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route
 MED - 1.3MB   or   HIGH - 6MB

Sargent's Hidden Exit is the most popular ascent. Sargent's Chimney can be climbed but climbers are often rapping down from above.

Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Climbing Route

The Owen-Spalding's great exposure
MED - 2.91MB

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 second entrance is faster, easier, and safer under dry conditions in our opinion. Most climbers use the 2nd Entrance.

We consider the Double Chimney area to be a little tricky for non-climbers under good conditions. Besides its exposure, it can be difficult for some non-climbers to comfortably navigate its interior especially during the downclimb if they are free-soloing back to the saddle. The good news is that non-climbers get a good feel for the chimney on the way up and most do just fine on the way back. The middle of the Owen Chimney has a short crux that gives some climbers a pause. The Owen can be avoided by taking the Catwalk.

Under snowy conditions, 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 icy snow and the footholds are slick then try the first entrance. The first entrance is a real challenge to climb for many people - it is not 5.4 easy. 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.

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. Knowing what this area looks like when dry is an asset when climbing under heavy snow conditions. Photos of the Double Chimney.

The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Climbing Route
MED - 1.28MB

We prefer to free-solo the UXM and climb down the OS; however, 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 right decision 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. If we are unsure about conditions on the OS (usually we know if conditions are poor, but not how poor), we skip the UXM and head for the Owen-Spalding with the knowledge that we may need to turn around.

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.  

The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Climbing Route
MED- 2.39MB   or   LOW - 895KB

The Grand Teton's Central Rib & Upper Exum Climbing Routes
LOW - 625KB   or   MED - 2.29MB

The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Climbing Route above the Wind Tunnel 

The Grand Teton's Upper Exum Climbing Route above the Wind Tunnel

Grand Teton's Upper Exum Climbing Route with the SW ridgeline details

Variations around the Friction Pitch on the Grand Teton's Upper Exum Route.

Variations by the Grand Teton's Friction Pitch along the Upper Exum Route

Grand Teton Features Map
LOW -  1MB  or   MED - 2.26MB  or  HIGH - 7.82
 or   Full USGS Grand Teton Quadrangle - 15MB
 If you want a USGS topo map (PDF or image file), see the links below.

Grand Teton Features Map
 LOW - 1.56MB  or  MED - 2.56MB  with a few more features.

Grand Teton climbers' trail
You never know... FYI: BB & GB can be black, blond, or cinnamon colored

Fires are not allowed in Garnet Canyon

The evening speed limit is 45 mph or less in GTNP.

Typical Winter Closures in Grand Teton National Park

Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, & Highway Webcams

Closures by Static & Mt Hunt - Winter

NOAA Weather Radio Coverage
Wyoming side of the Tetons: 162.525

NOAA Weather Radio Coverage
Idaho side of the Tetons: 162.450

USGS Topographic Maps Teton Range
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 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
Teton County GIS

NGS Data Sheet Grand Teton
NGS Datasheet Webpage

Download Maps for Trails within Grand Teton National Park
 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

GTNP Brochures
GTNP Backcountry Trip Planner
GTNP Hiking Brochure
GTNP Lakeshore Hikes Brochure

GTNP Backcountry Camping Zones
Cascade Canyon, North Fork
Cascade Canyon, South Fork
Death Canyon
Garnet Canyon
Granite & Open Canyon
Holly Lake
Lower Paintbrush
Marion Lake
Phelps Lake
Upper Paintbrush
Surprise Lake

GTNP Visitor Maps
Summer Park Map 2016 (2.0 Mb pdf file)
Winter Park Map 2016 (1.9 Mb pdf file)

Other Resources for Trails & Maps
AllTrails GTNP Trails
Teton Hiking Trails
RootsRated Trails
Wikipedia List of GTNP Trails

Climbing Resources
Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers Blog

Climbing Accident Reports - Rock & Ice
American Alpine Club
 AAC - Teton Search



~ A few WW trip reports ~
April through October

July 17th, 2016 (UXM) PNG Variation 
Overview - Upper Exum
Overview - Owen-Spalding
Detailed Look At Specific Route Features

~ Other Trip Reports ~

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

This site is intended to benefit its readers with unbiased opinions, straight-forward facts, and a collection of helpful images. Please contact us if you find any errors or omissions; or, to share useful information. Climbing news, interesting photos, climber profiles, information on conditions, or reports of broken hyperlinks are greatly appreciated. We're still trying to figure out the Neumann series for a nondegenerate kernal, and, you know, working, so don't expect a quick response.

Enjoy Safe Climbing