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Ascent of Grand Teton on 2012-08-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Eirik Andersen; Melanie Hetkamp
Petter Bjørstad
Date:Thursday, August 2, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Grand Teton
    Location:USA-Wyoming
    Elevation:13770 ft / 4197 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mon 30 July
Driving northwest after our Gannett climb, we are amused by a roadworks sign at the pass: Expect delays and great scenery! Teton certainly looks impressive, spired and snow dusted, with bulky Moran a worthy companion.

We went straight to the Park HQ, Petter managed to upgrade our camping permit to Lower Saddle for 2 days time; we then went a little way north to Jackson Lake Lodge to take care of lunch and a minor medical matter (there is a small clinic there). We then headed south to Jackson to find a motel.

Tue 31
Thought about a quick P600 but could find nothing suitable. Spent the day researching and planning our remaining peaks, buying maps, food and bits of gear. Petter contacted the Glacier Park rangers to set up our Mount Cleveland camping permit for 4-5 Aug; Melanie and Eirik went horse riding; we had a nice Thai meal in the evening and finalised our gear and plans for the morning.

Wed 1 Aug
Motel breakfast at 7. Drove to the Lupine Meadows trailhead (N43.73562 W110.74108, 2051m) with black clouds, thunder and a little rain, unexpected, it soon cleared.

We started hiking at 0830, an easy trail through nice forest. We fork R at N43.72626 W110.75660, R at N43.72330 W110.76465 and L at N43.72621 W110.76515 following signs for Garnet Canyon, with fine views opening up as we gain elevation and the forest thins. The canyon is impressive with steep rocky peaks soaring above. The trail is mostly YDS1 with sections of fun scrambly class 2+ boulders.

We reach The Meadow: nice flowers, not to be camped on. We fork L through a campsite then follow a fairly faint path heading L of a rock band then apparently up a loose-looking gully R of Middle Teton. However the main path had forked R and we cross some rough ground to rejoin it. The main trail climbs steeply up the R side of the canyon then traverses above a rock band, passing some caves then enters a rough bouldery couloir, passing R of Middle Teton Glacier. The trail becomes vague and bouldery then better defined again as it follows a moraine ridge, with camping/bivvy spots among the rocks. It steepens then cuts L to make a scrambly ascent of the headwall (N43.73466 W110.80783, YDS 3, fixed rope probably more useful on the way down).

At 1430 we arrive at Lower Saddle (3556m, N43.73502 W110.81059, where we have a permit to camp) after 6 hours of easy scenic hiking. A few folks arrive from the summit having taken about 6.5 hours round trip from here. 2 lads have day hiked the peak from the road (0215 start!). We had met quite a few parties on their way down having aborted due to the poor early morning weather.

As I write this we are bivvied at the saddle, with the first part of tomorrow's climb looming steeply above us. There are 2 small private huts belonging to the Park; also a small toilet structure (but waste has to be packed out in special bags we were given at Park HQ). A hummingbird pays a surprise visit having apparently taken a fancy to Eirik's yellow sleeping bag! We cook a meal and settle down for the night, hoping for no repeat of last night's hail. Before sunset I wander up the first part of Middle Teton for a fine view of the slopes of Grand Teton, then up the first part of the Grand Teton ascent to enjoy the rich "golden hour" light preceding a nice sunset. As we turn in, a full moon rises.

Wildflowers on the ascent are similar to those noted at Gannett Peak a few days earlier, with a few new ones such a mugwort, grass of parnassus, a pink mimulus, a lemon yellow cinquefoil, alpine willowherb, a yellow columbine, buttonweed, an alpine forget me not, moss campion and a nice selection of rushes and sedges- apparently quite a rich flora.

Thu 2
It was quite a cold night, fairly windy but we have a reasonably comfortable bivvy. Before dawn there are already a lot of lights indicating a number of parties already on the mountain.

We breakfast, hang up our food clear of the marmots (makes a change from bears!) and set off at 0630. A good trail climbs grass then rocky ground, then crosses a distinctive black band and scrambles up L of a prominent buttress. We enter a wide stony gully. The standard route immediately scrambles up slabs on the L, beside a chimney, in order to get above an obvious chockstone. A little higher up a steep rock wall is encountered: not particularly difficult and there are several ways up it. The most fun way is to Thread the Needle: this involves following a short easy ledge R then cutting back L through a short natural tunnel which is just big enough to crawl through (depending on size of climber and backpack!)

Note: we reached the Needle by heading straight up the wide stony gully then traversing R on slabs. This seemed easier than the standard route which we later followed in descent. Once above the Needle the route heads uphill slightly L of the fall line then traverses a little R to reach the High Saddle. This impressive place is where for most parties the roped climbing starts (N43.74124 W110.80368).

We climb on 2 ropes with Eirik leading, me and Petter on one rope, and Melanie following on the other rope removing the placed gear. Eirik leads the first pitch which heads L, mostly easy scrambling with one exposed move to cross a small outcrop. At the first belay stance we are overtaken by a young lad who is soloing the climb. Presumably he is comfortable climbing at grades well in excess of 5.6 - anyway he makes it up ok and we hope safely down.

The second pitch is very entertaining. It starts with the famous Belly Crawl then a hand traverse, then ascends through a short natural tunnel, makes a slightly fiddly enclosed move up between outcrops then finishes up easy angled slabs. The third pitch is a steep chimney/groove containing some hardish climbing on small holds.

The last pitch ascends a wide rocky gully, mostly easy scrambling but with one hardish section, possibly harder then usual as we are pushed a little of route by some ice. This pitch is also the first abseil of the descent although conflict with other climbers is minimal as visibility is pretty good.

Then a final fairly shapeless shabby scramble (various trails and routes) leads to the summit which is marked by a triangulation station plaque fixed to a flat boulder (N43.74123 W110.80240, 4193m). It has been a cold windy climb and it's nice to find a sheltered nook and admire the view. We can't see anything very distant due to haze, but there are impressively steep drops on all sides and our peak totally dominates its surroundings.

We arrived at 1140 (a 5h10 ascent from Low Saddle) and leave at 1215. The descent is uneventful: we have the first abseil (from fixed slings at approx N43.74108 W110.80350) to ourselves; from its foot is an easy descent L for approx 20m to bolts (approx N43.74097 W110.80414) for the last abseil. There is a brief wait for the preceding party then we head down (note it includes maybe 15m of free abseil i.e no foot placements).

This second ab lands us at High Saddle and we find our way down. There seem to be many choices and we make one short backtrack but we are back at Low Saddle at 1515. After a short break to pack our bags we leave at 1550. Of course there is little sign of the strong westerly which has chilled us on the climb and it's pretty hot on the way down. With a brief stop to filter water from drinking, we are back at Lupine Meadows trailhead at 1920 ie 7h05 from the summit. Petter is slightly annoyed to discover a small car has parked so close to ours that he can barely get in the drivers door, remarking that there is plenty of space in Wyoming: I observe that the little car is from Massachusetts...

Our round trip has taken just under 1.5 days but the peak seems fairly commonly done in a day from the trailhead, typically starting soon after midnight. This would involve a fairly big effort (22 km round trip and 2100m ascent) and the bouldery sections of trail would be unpleasant in the dark.

We find a motel 2 hours north at West Yellowstone, with a couple of Elk and Moose sightings en route. Tomorrow we head north to the canadian border, our next target being Mt Cleveland.

Back home I learn that Andy Anderson recently climbed the Teton a lot faster... Andy Anderson's Grand Teton (2h53) and Longs Peak (1h56) roundtrip records

Grand Teton photo album
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:7173 ft / 2187 m
    Extra Gain:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Route:Owens Spalding
    Trailhead:Lupine Meadows TH  6729 ft / 2050 m
    Grade/Class:Yds 5.5
    Quality:10 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Bivouac
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:1 Days 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:7 Hours 5 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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