The Grand Teton in Wyoming is a must-do for alpine rock climbers looking to stand on an iconic peak. The first official ascent was in 1898, but there are rumours it was climbed as early as 1832.
There are several worth-while routes to the top of the 4,199-metre summit, ranging from gully climbs to steep 5.12 trad pitches. Most climbers, however, are aiming for one of the most-climbed classics- and for good reason, as they offer good protection, sound rock and excellent views at moderate grades.
From the parking area in Grand Teton National Park, most climbs are approached via the Lupine Meadows trail into Garnet Canyon, eventually reaching the Lower Saddle. Be sure to purchase a guidebook before venturing up. Here are three absolute classics to climb this summer.
The Owen-Spalding 5.4: This was the route taken by the first ascent team over 120 years ago. It follows cracks to a narrow ledge and up very exposed rock. You then climb to the Owen Chimney and a crux with fixed pitons. From there, be sure to pay attention to the route as you’ll have to head back down this way. There are many variations to the line, but all offer exciting and classic climbing.
Exum Ridge 5.5: First climbed solo by Glenn Exum in 1931, this is one of the best moderate alpine routes in the U.S.A. It’s a lot longer than The Owen-Spalding and the rock great throughout. This is a popular free-solo for climbers, but if you do rope-up then be sure to simul-climb as pitching it out would take a very long time. You climb up features like Wall Street, the Golden Stair pitch, Wind Tunnel and the Friction Pitch before reaching the top. The descent is down The Owen-Spalding, so be sure to do your research before heading up.
North Ridge 5.8: Of the three routes mentioned, this is by far the most adventurous. First climbed in 1931, it’s gone on to become a classic of the range. It was one of the most technical alpine climbs in the country at 5.7 A0 when first ascended. It follows the right skyline when viewing Grand Teton from Jackson Hole, the nearest town. This is one of the routes in Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. The Chockstone Chimney is the crux. There are several variations. You can extend this up the Direct North Face finish. The route is easy to follow once on the ridge, with a few features being the Chockstone Chimney, the Black Rock Chimney, the orange Slab Pitch and the upper corners.