Trip Report – Grand Teton

The Grand Teton is a 4197 meter peak near Jackson, Wyoming. Sarah and I started our road trip across the U.S. by stopping in Jackson for an attempt on the Owen-Spaulding route up the Grand. The O.S. is generally a scramble with several pitches of climbing up to 5.4 near the summit first climbed in August of 1898.

The Grand Teton from Grand Teton National Park.

We scheduled ourselves a leisurely two days to complete the climb. Day one would be the approach to set up a high camp on the flank of the mountain and day two would be the climb to the summit and the descent back to the valley, showers, and bison burgers.

Our first day in Jackson, we went for a short trail run around Jenny Lake and picked up our climbing permits from the rangers. We also checked out Skinny Skis and Teton Mountaineering to get a guidebook and climbing topo. After packing our gear, having dinner, and going for a dip in the stream, we headed to the trailhead to spend the night in the car.

Sarah cooking our pre-climb dinner. Evening looking on the Grand.

The approach day was tough with a long section of switchbacks in the trees and then more slogging up loose scree. We made it to a feature called The Moraine (3444m) and set up our tent in the rocks. We had a reasonable tasty Mountain House dinner of meat lasagna in a bag. 

Sarah starting up the trailhead. A bear following us up the Grand. Turning into the meadows in Garnet Canyon.

Eric during lunch on the approach day. Sarah working her way up to the moraine campsite. Setting up camp. Cooking and eating dinner.

The next morning we started up a snow patch to reach the Lower Saddle (3535m) and made good time to the guide cabins. Above the Lower Saddle we struggled to stay on the route. I realized the best advice given to us was “stay on the arete” but we were lured into several gullies. We arrived at the Upper Saddle (4014m) despite some fairly exposed and difficult scramble sections. Sarah was rattled by the climbing and, looking up at the climbing required to finish the summit block, decided she prefered to descend. With a headache, I was inclined to agree. We descended to the Lower Saddle by down climbing the proper route.

Sarah taking careful steps up the snowfield. Looking back from the Lower Saddle. Harder scrambling on the route. Sarah scrambling. Grand Teton summit block. Highpoint photo. Shots of Sarah and Eric on the descent – getting tired.

We broke down camp and glissaded down the canyon in beautiful weather. The descent was brutal in mountain boots but we made it to the car and back to Jackson.


Hiking out Garnet Canyon.

Our stats:

  • Highpoint: 4014 meters
  • Vertical Ascent: 1942 meters

Our approach route from the valley shown in red. Our campsite was at the intersection of red and yellow (day two was in yellow). The climbing route up to our highpoint marked with an X in yellow.

Gear notes for next time:

  • A 60m single rope was good but find a really thin light one for next time.
  • A thin puffy jacket was fine and a light sleeping bag is good.
  • Bring a smaller rack. 
  • Ultralight crampons and axe would be better. We did not use crampons at all despite it being higher than normal snow.
  • It would probably be pretty reasonable to do the entire climb in good approach shoes and even more to bring approach shoes and rock shoes.
  • I hate instant oatmeal – time to stop bringing it.

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