The Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding Route

The Owen-Spalding Climb
~ Lower Saddle to Summit ~

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. As we have said elsewhere, this route requires your full attention to your climbing and the environment.

Climbers on the Upper Exum route will need to familiarize themselves with the Owen-Spalding route because it's used for downclimbing off the summit block. The Upper Exum route is harder and more time consuming than the Owen-Spalding route. A greater degree of agility on rock is required for those going solo on the Upper Exum when compared to the Owen-Spalding; nonetheless, it may prove a viable alternative to the more crowded Owen-Spalding route. Variations can make the UXM closer in grade to that of the OS.

Free-soloing the Grand Teton can be a relatively safe activity; however, there are no safe routes on the Grand Teton. This mountain is unforgiving to soloers who make a mistake. Natural threats are abundant.

A round-trip climb in a single day can be extremely taxing. Even the hike to the Lower Saddle takes a toll on many individuals. A one-day round-trip is not suggested for everyone but many athletes summit the Grand Teton in a single day without prior summits in the Tetons and with no climbing experience. They are usually soloing and traveling light on the Owen-Spalding route. If you're acclimated to the elevation, fit enough for a round-trip, and comfortable with the exposure then it's well worth the effort to try a one-day ascent when the weather and conditions are in your favor.

To examine features in more detail, please visit our Grand Teton Features page. For more route overviews, visit our Marked-Up Grand Teton Climbing Routes page. Both of those web pages will cover the approach to the Lower Saddle in greater detail than this page. This page focuses on the actual climbing challenges above the Lower Saddle. If you haven't done so, please visit our Wyoming Whiskey home page for further information on climbing the Grand Teton in a safe & efficient manner.

The climbers' trail runs from Lupine Meadows to the Lower Saddle

In reality, many hikers are not paying much attention to their route. Hikers are often looking down at the trail in order to make sure they don't trip on a rock or root. Some hikers will take the wrong turn at a well-marked junction. Climbers heading for the Grand Teton have taken the trail toward Amphitheater Lake instead of Garnet Canyon. Taking the trail into the South Fork of Garnet Canyon is another common mistake. Stay in the North Fork of Garnet Canyon. Climbers heading back to Lupine Meadows have mistakenly taken the trail to Taggart Lake at the Valley Trail/Bradley Lake junction. Pay attention, use common sense, study the route: you'll be fine.

Click to enlarge

The early-season approach up the Main & North Fork of Garnet Canyon.

In the image above, the red dots show the approximate location of the dry summer trail. The summer trail leads directly to the Lower Saddle. It's mostly well defined; however, it will disappear at two boulder fields and restart a short distance away to your southwest. Some very short sections of the trail fade into the landscape. You will be back on track quickly.

You may encounter multiple trails. This is especially true above Spalding Falls; however, the main trail is well traveled during the peak summer season. Just follow everyone. Some forks in the trail are seasonal forks that are used to avoid snow fields. They can look like the summer trail; however, they are usually slightly sloppier looking trails. Traveling under darkness is a bigger challenge if you are not familiar with the route; however, you will be better able to handle the hike with just a little research here. Common sense should keep you going in the right direction.

We would like to say that under the worst-case scenario you will add a few minutes to your day if you wander off the trail; however, a few individuals have more extended adventures. Distraught hikers have been guided back to Lupine Meadows during the evening after becoming separated from their party and wandering around the talus fields.

The climbers' trail to the Lower Saddle is usually free of snow by mid-July, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Contact the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers to find out if the summer climbers' trail is free of snow, or get an estimate for a snow-free approach date — the more experienced rangers will be able to give you a good estimate.

If you are climbing under snowy conditions early in the season, take whatever path is safest given the conditions. Most climbers will head up the Meadows' headwall near the Middle Teton's NE aspect when snow covers the canyon floor. Snow conditions change constantly during the day. Just because you can safely go up a snowy slope in the morning doesn't mean you will have a safe descent in the afternoon. The snow's consistency can vary from an icy concrete-like substance to a sloppy bowl of noodles as the day warms up. Climbers have died on the approach. Respect the snow.

The view between the Lower (11,600ft) & Upper Saddle (13,200)

Stay to the west side of the Central Rib's Needle. It is the easiest way to gain the Central Rib's Bench.

The above image provides a look at two common variations to access the Central Rib's Bench. There are many variations to gain the bench, and many variations to reach the Upper Saddle including bypassing the bench. Conditions may force you to choose a different or more difficult line. The two variations shown here are the Eye of the Needle via the Chockstone Chimney variation & the Briggs' Slab variation (the most common guided routes).
These are some areas where you're more likely to encounter a hazard such as rockfall or foot traps under shallow snow. Some of those hazard zones are hard to bypass. It might be hard to avoid being directly below other climbers who might kick rocks in your direction; however, it's usually pretty easy to reposition yourself to a safer location while you're in a hazard zone. Additionally, you can give other climbers time to clear a hazard zone if you're above them. Often, you are the hazard to others so exercise care if others are around you.
If you're a non-climber who is unfamiliar with climbing etiquette, the appropriate thing to do if you kick rocks loose is to holler 'ROCK'! even if you see none below you. It's like saying FORE! when you make an errant golf shot. Your safety and the safety of others is everyone's responsibility.

View from the Lower Saddle

View from the Lower Saddle toward the Central Rib

There's a nice path to the Black Dike. Once past the dike, scramble toward the center of the Needle until you find an easy route to its western side. You will often find icy conditions at the base of the western side of the Needle during your approach to the Chockstone Chimney. We stay right next to the western face - within 10 feet or so. Exercise great care even when dry. This natural seepage area is usually your best approach line even when icy.

If you find nasty conditions here it doesn't always mean that there will be nasty icy conditions on the route above the Needle. Some climbers decide to turn around even though the poor conditions are often short-lived. Unless the entire place is covered in ice, it's usually worth the careful effort to gain the Central Rib's Bench. If you're climbing during the summer high season, there's a good chance that any thin ice will burn off as the day warms up. Also, sometimes the lower elevations have icy conditions but the upper elevations have more manageable, and often safer, snow. This is usually the case during the fall climbing season.

You should turn around if you are uncomfortable with the challenge especially if you don't expect improving conditions as the day rolls along. Besides being a serious threat to the welfare of soloing climbers, ice is going to slow you down — possibly double or triple your time on the rock ahead. If dangerous weather is a possibility, those poor conditions may make a quick departure off the mountain impossible. As we have said before, a rescue under poor conditions or bad weather is never good and may not be possible.

Overview of variations above the Chockstone Chimney

The BLUE dots near the bottom of the image lead to and from the Briggs' Slab & the Middle Ledge of the Chockstone Chimney. For non-climbers, the Middle Ledge is often an easier way to access the Eye of the Needle than the lower section of the Chockstone Chimney.

Take the Needle's Chockstone Chimney or go for the Briggs' Slab.

This area is a mix of scrambling and mostly easy climbing when dry. It's a good idea to spot climbers here if they are unroped.

Keep in mind that the images that follow are just a few of the many variations. If you have a good feel for the general direction you are heading, then climb whatever you want.

Options to gain the Central Rib's Bench

Notice that to gain the Briggs' Slab, you are making a big U-Turn after leaving the base of the Chockstone Chimney. The Briggs' Slab is at the southern end of the small headwall of the Central Rib's Bench. In other words, the slab is at the SW corner of the "bench", and the NE corner of the Chockstone Chimney.

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

If we are guiding experienced climbers in this area, we usually head for the Briggs' Slab and take the outside edges of the slab to reach the bench. Other lines are available. A sometimes-safer variation from the Briggs' Slab area consists of gaining the middle ledge of the Chockstone Chimney and then heading for the the Eye of the Needle. The easiest way to access the middle ledge is not obvious but if the area is completely dry it really doesn't matter which way you go. The middle ledge can be accessed from right below the Briggs' Slab and from the west. When we say easier or safer, we don't mean risk free.

Inexperienced climbers may feel more comfortable with the safety that a rope affords while on the slab. Guides will usually hip belay clients, or place the rope over a rock to provide a friction belay. Most climbers get by without a rope if they are taking the Eye of the Needle variation but keep in mind that climbers have been seriously injured in this area. Stay focused.

The above image shows you a few variations around the bench. The view is toward the north-northeast. This area is mostly (mostly) a scramble so don't worry about taking an exact line. Not all variations are shown. You're headed up toward the Upper Saddle. Climbers headed for the Upper Exum Ridge will head east and over the crest of the Central Rib.

Another look at some of the variations around the Briggs' Slab

Those green dots lead to the Middle Ledge of the Chockstone Chimney from the Briggs' Slab area.

Looking down into the Chockstone Chimney.

The Middle Ledge of the CC is mostly hidden in the above image.

Another look at some of the options around the Briggs' Slab & Chockstone Chimney

Head for the Upper Saddle after gaining the Central Rib's Bench

Overview of the lower half of the Central Rib

Scramble anywhere that's safe. We like to take a higher route on our way to the Upper Saddle. That keeps us above the drainage where rocks tend to roll.

Another overview of the bench area

Ditto above

View of Central Rib from the Upper Western Rib

Main drainage

Climbers have taken slides to their death due to the tricky snow conditions. On this day, pictured above, we ended up taking a line on the western aspect of the Central Rib. We climbed near the middle of the left side of the photo. It was a little sketchy but safer than the drainage.

Snow can remain in this area throughout July but there will also be plenty of dry rock. Again, many many accidents — some minor some not — have taken place between the saddles due to unstable snow and loose rocks. Exercise great care.

Upper Western Rib Variation - Stay out of the drainage due to rockfall hazards.

Another overview - looking SSE

After ascending the Upper Western Rib, make your way back toward the Central Rib as soon as you can safely do so. Sometimes there is a well worn path that heads east (snow & people move rocks around every year). Be careful not to kick loose rocks down the mountain.

If you don't want to take the Upper Western Rib variation, you can take the Black Rock Chimney variation as you leave the Central Rib's Bench. That BRC variation is shown below. Keep in mind that this area does completely dry out as the summer rolls along. Both variations are popular. Of course, there are other variations but they are less common or less safe.

The Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney variation.

The Black Rock Chimney is our preferred route but the Upper Western Rib sees a lot of action. The Upper Western Rib is a natural line to follow whereas the Black Rock Chimney isn't an obvious line. The Upper Western Rib has climbers crossing scree which is often unstable.

Climbers on the BRC's steppy ramp

A short chimney is below the steppy ramp and the longer main chimney is above the steppy ramp. This is very easy climbing when dry.

BRC - looking SW

This is the main chimney above the steppy ramp. Watch out for a few loose rocks. Again, very easy climbing.The chimney is on the western aspect on the Central Rib and just below the crest line.

The upper exit from the BRC - looking SSE

Do not take the drainage to Wall Street shown above. It is not a shortcut during a descent. Nor is it a good variation to reach Wall Street for Upper Exum climbers. If you're doing laps on the Upper Exum — and who isn't? — take the Wall Street Couloir from the Upper Saddle, or another variation.

Western aspect of the Central Rib

UWR: Upper Western Rib
EOTN: Eye of the Needle

Another overview of the Central Rib

The 'bowl' at the top of the Black Rock Chimney drains to the Wall Street Couloir. Simply scramble across the bowl to the top section of the Central Rib. Stay close to the rib. You should see a footpath or several footpaths after exiting the bowl. You can follow them or simply stay on the easiest path to the Upper Saddle.

Overview of the upper Central Rib - looking SE

Once you reach The Patio which a natural flat area at the top of the Central Rib, you may want to take a break and grab a jacket if it's available. Depends upon the weather. The wind tends to blow and the temps seem to drop as you gain the Upper Saddle.

With shallow unconsolidated snow (fall season, often) the best path to the saddle can be difficult to navigate if you don't know the area well. There are plenty of foot traps. With dry rock, it's just an easy scramble.

A view from the Central Rib's Patio toward the Upper Saddle - looking NE

 Upper Saddle - looking west

A look back down the Upper Saddle and toward the Central Rib - see footprints. The Upper Saddle's western side is much lower than its eastern side. If the photographer were to turn around he would see the view shown in the next two images.

The access to the eastern side of the Upper Saddle.

This view is looking up at the variations to access the upper eastern side of the Upper Saddle. The photographer is at the lower western side of the saddle.

The RED route is the most common ascent line. Take all variations with great care. A guided climber fell into the Exum Gully which runs directly below the RED route. She did not survive. The BLUE route is a common descent path but it is exposed and a hip belay may be necessary for inexperienced climbers. Consider spotting climbers if you're in a group. Free-soloing climbers can take whatever route suits their fancy. The center GREEN route can be used when snow makes the other options sketchy. You can examine this area more closely at our Upper Saddle web page.

 Upper Saddle - looking east

Another look at the access to the eastern side of the Upper Saddle. There are actually 4 variations. The 4th variation runs above the dark blue route shown here. You are climbing along a seam on the south-facing wall by the stem move over the flake. It is almost never used but it's a nice alternative if you're bored with the common variations.

Downclimbing route 'B' (see above) - exposed to the north (Valhalla Canyon)

Overview of the Upper Saddle

Seen from the Enclosure

  The Grand Teton's Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle


An overview of the Owen-Spalding Route above the Upper Saddle. Click to enlarge

Another angle of the Owen-Spalding Route

The exposed Belly Roll is at the very NE corner of the Upper Saddle

This area can be backed up with climbers and it is usually very very cold in the morning. Be prepared to wait if you're not free-soloing. It's not always backed up but it's not uncommon.

The Owen-Spalding's exposed Belly Roll, Crawl, & Double Chimney

Another overview of the exposed areas

 Options above the Double Chimney

Novice climbers should stay on the OS and not attack a variation.

The Wittich Crack (video & first ascent) and the Great West Chimney are options for some free-soloing climbers. The two Candyland Cracks between the Belly Roll & the Crawl are interesting but rarely climbed.

The Wittich Crack is rated a 5.6 to 5.7. It's not uncommon to run into poorer conditions near the top of the WC because it's well shaded; however, it's not a major drainage like the First Entrance of the Double Chimney and thus it doesn't see the same intense icing that's possible during the summer. The Great West Chimney is a chute of snow and ice almost all year long but it can clean up. When conditions are somewhat better, it's a viable way of bypassing the DC & the Owen Chimney, and sometimes Sargent's. You can also try variations off the GWC. Again, these variations are not recommend for novice climbers.

 OS's Exposure

The above video takes a look at the Owen-Spalding's exposure between the Belly Roll and the 2nd Entrance of the Double Chimney. It's a little redundant with multiple members of a local coed soccer team making similar moves; however, it gives you a good feel for what to expect. A longer video of the trip is below. Most of the soccer players were not climbers and had no prior climbing experience.

Belly Roll - go over or under

Belly Roll

Albert Ellingwood atop the Belly Roll (Bellyroll in those days).

Belly Roll - go over or under

Belly Roll - go over or under

Video of two climbers going under the Belly Roll

We tend to go under the Belly Roll during the descent and over it on the ascent but you can take either variation in either direction. There is a nice fat foot-sized ledge below the Belly Roll. It is smaller at its southern end so most climbers avoid walking or jumping off the southern end which is what the first climber does in the above video. Taller climbers often have greater flexibility in their choices since their reach is longer.

Belly Roll - view from above

Looking back at the Belly Roll from the ledge before the Crawl.

The ledge between the Belly Roll and the Crawl

Looking toward the Crawl from the ledge

The Crawl with access to the Double Chimney in background

Go outside, inside, or partly outside and inside the Crawl.

 Glenn Exum with partner in the Crawl

Glenn is below the First Entrance of the Double Chimney and he has on foot on the ledge variation.

The Crawl

Descent in Crawl

View from the 2nd Entrance to the Double Chimney - looking back toward the Crawl

View from the Crawl and looking toward the Double Chimney's two access variations

1st Entrance of the Double Chimney - the crux if you take it.

The climber is grabbing a horn and trying to muscle her way over it. Most climbers give this first chimney a rating higher than 5.4. It's a physically challenging climbing move for many and it's often wet or icy. Sticky climbing shoes make it easier, as does practice, but it's still a cruxy exposed maneuver. Most climbers favor the 2nd Entrance but a few climbers see access to the second entrance as more intimidating. We always use the First Entrance when ice or snow covers the entire area, or when the holds are plugged up.

There is a variation directly above the horn at the 1st Entrance - it runs up a tiny chimney to your right and it can be used to access a ledge directly above the Double Chimney's Open-V. It can also be used as a variation to access the Catwalk. It is fairly easy when dry; however, non-climbers should avoid it. It can be dangerously wet, icy, or slimy because it is the main drainage for water flowing off the Catwalk.

Climber at the 1st Entrance with rope leading to the 2nd Entrance

Do not go past the 2nd Entrance and toward the Great West Chimney unless you have the skills to tackle trickier terrain.  A narrow ledge runs to the GWC.

Climber heading for the 2nd Entrance using the hand-in-crack traverse

 Goofin' around between entrances

Climber using the lower ledge to access the DC's 2nd Entrance

The Climber is directly below the 2nd Entrance. The Great West Chimney can be seen along the left side of the photo. It's the REALLY BIG chimney. Avoid it.

 Valhalla Canyon - looking southish

Bodies have ended up at the bottom-most snow field in Valhalla Canyon after falling from above. This is the view from the Cascade Canyon side of the Grand. This approach up Valhalla Canyon toward the Grand Teton is indeed used by a few climbers. This is a tricky approach which includes crossing a roaring creek. Climbers who wish to access this side of the Grand usually take the Valhalla Traverse from the Lower Saddle.

Climber using the lower ledge to access the DC's 2nd Entrance

The climber is above Valhalla Canyon.

Gaining the 2nd Entrance

In the short video below, the climber takes a slip as he tries to enter the 2nd Entrance of the Double Chimney. This is a common area for slips as the footholds are more friction than bomb-proof step. He recovers and goes on to make some GT climbing history.

A big slip that didn't slow him down.

View inside the 2nd Entrance

This climber is using the Open-V variation inside the middle of the Double Chimney. We feel that the Tunnel variation is easier when dry. Above the Tunnel variation is the Northern Slot variation. The Northern Slot is accessed from the Open-V by climbing up the southern end of the flake shown in the center of the picture.

This is a VERY SKETCHY area if any snow or ice is here. The rock is not flat right below the entrances to the Open-'V' and Tunnel variations. If you slip, you could easily slide into Valhalla Canyon. If the area is completely covered in ice or icy snow, we take the time to clean a few patches of ice off the rock while we are ascending so that our descent is safer. A loose rock can be used to chip away at thin ice if you have nothing else to work with.

Icy conditions are one of many reasons why some free-soloing climbers might bring a rope. If you don't wish to carry a heavy rope, sometimes a very small diameter 6-7 mm rope that's under 100' might be a life saver when conditions are poor.

The DC's tunnel variation - completely dry (not a common sight)

Climber exiting the DC - looking northish

The climber is just to the north of the Tunnel variation (dark shadow below him). The photographer is on a ledge just above the Open-V (on its south side).

The most common exit from the Open-V and Tunnel variations.

Most climbers exit this way but there are many variations to get out of the Double Chimney. The photographer is by the Northern Slot variation. There is a nice climbing line with better hand holds just to the left of the left side of the photo (unseen here).

The common exit from the DC - looking WNW

Again, the slabs just above the climber don't provide bomber monkey-bar holds. There are holds but it's not like you're grabbing a handful of rock. The less experienced climber will need to exercise thoughtful care in finding and using the various holds. Again, on the right side of the image (climber's left side) is a line with slightly better hand holds. A crab crawl is sometimes used to approach the upper exit during the descent (sit on butt & use feet and arms to move). Again, if it's icy, we try to clean a few spots during the ascent to make sure our descent is quick, safe and easy. Cleaning holds on the descent is not advised due to the inability to reach footholds. Additionally, if you need to retreat quickly to escape bad weather, you can't do so if you need to clean holds. Obviously a rope will help but we like to travel without one.

 Base of Owen Chimney

This is the view from the exit of the Double Chimney. You can head toward the Catwalk or the Owen Chimney.  The Catwalk is the easiest variation when dry. You can reach the Catwalk from the first opening in the Owen Chimney (Green dots), or via the b-line (Yellow dots) right out of the Double Chimney.

There is a crack/chimney variation on the north side of the Owen Chimney. It tops out on the same ledge. It is a harder variation but it's a nice way to bypass climbers or just get a change of pace. The Owen Chimney Bypass Crack may be easier under some conditions. It can also be reached from the Catwalk - see below. Non-climbers should stick to the regular route or retreat if conditions are poor.

Overview of the Catwalk & Owen Chimney area

Base of Owen Chimney

Again, you can access the Catwalk directly from the top of the Double Chimney or from the first opening in the Owen Chimney. Notice the crack/chimney variation on the north side of the Owen Chimney. It can also be accessed from just inside the Owen Chimney. Again, it is a harder variation.

 The Owen Chimney - looking WNW

This is the view from inside the Owen Chimney. We are looking back toward the Double Chimney. You must go around a tight corner to access the Catwalk from the first opening in the Owen Chimney. There is an old piton at the tight corner (by the left-most yellow dot in the photo above). The 'Bypass' is a southern bypass. It's not too difficult when dry but it is not recommended for free-soloing non-climbers.

A view from the Catwalk toward the DC

The Catwalk - looking southish. Climber is descending.

The scramble between the Catwalk & the Main Rap Overlook - looking NNW

The 'scramble' can be a little intimidating to non-climbers but it's pretty easy climbing. With any ice or snow, it can quickly become technical climbing. During the descent to the Catwalk from near the Main Rap Overlook, climbers often crab craw down the rock. If you're standing and you loose your balance, slip, or trip, you won't recover so at the very least stay low and go slow if you're new to this.

The Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle

This is the view from the Main Rap Overlook

 Main Rap & Sargent's

Notice that a small 'drainage' runs between Sargent's Chimney & the Main Rap.

We are going back to look at the Owen Chimney variation.

 Base of Owen Chimney as seen for the top of the Double Chimney

Middle of the Owen Chimney

Owen Chimney

There is a short crux in the middle third of the chimney. When dry, it's pretty easy. When icy, not so much. Either way, it does require effort and careful climbing. When we downclimb this chimney, the location of the crux and our speed of descent varies with the conditions. If it's dry, we find it's faster than taking the Catwalk and just as easy. Obviously, lots of practice helps if you're blasting down it.

Owen Chimney - by the crux

Owen Chimney

 Base of Sargent's

This is a look north toward the exit from the Owen Chimney from the base of Sargent's Chimney.

Looking back from Sargent's Chimney toward the Owen Chimney

Looking back from Sargent's Chimney toward the Owen Chimney

Overview of Sargent's Chimney variations

The alternative Hidden Exit out of Sargent's is the most common ascent line. Climbers can climb directly up Sargent's Chimney if they wish to but other climbers are usually rapping down it. There are some tricky moves midway in the main chimney so be extra careful if you choose to downclimb from Sargent's rappel. The ascent is a little easier. You can climb on either side of the main chimney. We think the southern side of the main chimney is easier on the ascent and descent compared to the northern side but every climber has their own opinion. If you're tall and you have sticky shoes, you might not think there is much difference.

Sargent's Chimney

Looking up at Sargent's

This is a view from the area by the Main Rappel. The rap drops you to the Upper Saddle. Climbers follow a 'drainage' from Sargent's to the rappel area. Not exactly 'follow' — but zig-zag their way by the drainage-like depression. They usually stay to the north of the drainage. The safest route will be obvious when you're there.

Lower NW side of Sargent's Chimney

 Sargent's Chimney

This is a view from Sargent's Hidden Exit. The corner crack by climber in orange shirt is at the lower access to the Hidden Exit. It requires extra care on the descent. Pay careful attention to your options (holds) on the ascent. This will help with the descent.

Cannon in the light blue jacket

We don't remember how old Cannon was but we think she was 8-years-old when she was on the OS in this picture. Her dad is above her. This is at the corner crack to gain Sargent's Hidden Exit. There is an often overlooked foothold near Cannon's upper body.

Sargent's Main Chimney

Again, if you're not taking the Hidden Exit there are two common options for the ascent in the main chimney: the far left and the far right side of the main chimney. We will take either but each option has at least one tricky move for novice climbers.

A view of the lower part of the Hidden Exit

A view of the middle part of the Hidden Exit

The climber in the yellow shirt is in the chute at the top of the HE.

Looking NNW.

The climber is ascending the NE corner of a chute at the top of the Hidden Exit.

Again, the top of the Hidden Exit is a small chute.

The Chute & corner crack out of the Hidden Exit

You can go up the other side of the chute, or the center, but the north side is usually easier.

Looking south from the top of the Hidden Exit and looking toward the top of Sargent's main chimney.

Sargent's Rap


Go north after exiting Sargent's or its Hidden Exit and turn east (turn right) as soon as it is easy to do so. The climber using the Blue variation is simply taking a easier zig-zag around some rock. The direct line is the Red variation shown above. It's a straight shot to the summit from here.

Follow a straight line to the summit or zig-zag around rock features

You can access Sargent's from just below the Three Stooges

The Three Stooges is not a feature you will recognize on the descent unless you're paying very close attention and looking back up after passing it. The summit is to the NE of here — a straight shot if you want to make it one (see arrow).

The line between the summit and Sargent's—follow the easiest straight path (or overall straight path).

The Slabby Wall

Switchback around the Slabby Wall or climb its center crack. The center crack points toward the summit and back toward Sargent's. The Horse is a false summit directly above the Slabby Wall. There is a small ledge along the top of the southern half of the Slabby Wall that is often used as part of any switchback.

Switchback option shown in pink

Switchback option - many options

Slabby Wall as seen from the small ledge atop its southern half - looking WSW

These climbers are using one of many variations around the Slabby Wall's southern half. It's not the easiest variation but it works.

Slabby Wall as seen from the small ledge atop its southern half - looking NNE

 Switchback ledge - looking SSW

This is the small ledge atop its southern half of the Slabby Wall. It  is being used as a switchback.

Scramble to the summit. Many variations to the NE.

Remember that the Slabby Wall is directly below, and west of, the Horse.

Climbers usually exit the summit by heading westerly then southwest. Some climbers go around the eastern side of the Horse and gain the western aspect of the mountain after passing the Horse. This may be easier for some climbers. There are many variations. Again, just keep in mind that the Slabby Wall is below the Horse.

 Going around the southern side of the Horse during the descent  - or ascent.

This is one option for climbers - go under the Horse's eastern aspect and around its southern end to gain the Owen-Spalding route. The southern end of the Horse is above the Slabby Wall. Sometimes it is safer and easier to reach the small ledge above the Slabby Wall via this descent variation. If we climb with kids, we take this route.

Descending below the Horse in January

The above photo has Guide Greg Collins in back, his client in the middle, and Dan Carson in front. Andrew Carson says he took the photo just below the Horse, possibly in 2008. Andrew posted it on Mountain Project. Andrew Carson used to own JHMG and he guided several winter climbs. Nowadays, he's semi-retired and living in Wilson. His career took him into real estate, conservation work, climbing, and the non-profit world. He participated in Paul Petzoldt’s very first course at the National Outdoor Leadership School in 1965. He and his wife Nancy moved to Wilson in the late ’60’s.

The Main Rappel to the Grand Teton's Upper Saddle

Main Rappel to the Upper Saddle Area

Main Rap as seen from the 2nd setup of the secondary 2x70' alternate raps

See our Upper Saddle Page for more pictures of the exit off the saddle


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

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

OS via Catwalk - not soloing

The above video is a look at a few areas on the OS from the Belly Roll to the summit, and a look at the downclimb's two raps: Sargent's & the Main Rap to the Upper Saddle. This video does not show climbers navigating all of the difficult spots but it does give you a general idea about how much scrambling is actually taking place. This is an extended and modified version of the exposure video shown above. Free-soloing climbers usually avoid the raps. These individuals were actually members of a local coed soccer team. Most were not climbers.

Owen-Spalding Climbing Route
Click to enlarge

A few trip reports for April through October

July 17th, 2016 (UXM) PNG Variation 

Overview - Upper Exum
Overview - Owen-Spalding
Detailed Look At Specific Route Features
The Approach & Route Overviews

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

Enjoy Safe Climbing