re-sized Climbing the Grand Teton

Fascinated by ‘El Cap’, today we decided to take a look at Grand Teton’s noteworthy events

Grand Teton is located in the north west corner of Wyoming. It is a classic alpine peak, so impressive that a whole national park has been named after it – The Grand Teton National Park. However, the mountain range itself is called ‘the Tetons’ or ‘the Teton Range’.

The Grand Teton Range

Grand Teton itself is the highest mountain within the Park at 13,770 feet (4197 m), and the second highest in Wyoming.

There is a controversy over who made the first ascent of Grand Teton. Nathaniel P. Langford and James Stevenson claimed to reach the summit on July 29, 1872. However, their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. The Enclosure is named after a man-made palisade of rocks on its summit, almost certainly constructed by Native Americans. When William O. Owen climbed the true summit in 1898, he found no trace of prior human passage. It is probably that the The Enclosure was first climbed by Native Americans, while the true summit was first climbed by Owen.

the Grand Teton in Winter

The Grand Teton has the most routes listed in the historic climbing text Fifty Classic Climbs of North America of any “peak”. The only other “peak” to have more than one route listed is El Capitan with, The Nose and Salathé Wall. Since the Tetons first ascent, 38 routes with 58 variations have been established.

The most popular route up the mountain is finished via the Upper Exum Ridge Route (II, 5.5) on the Exum Ridge, a 13-pitch exposed route first climbed by Glenn Exum, co-founder of Exum Mountain Guides. The direct start of the Exum Ridge using the Lower Exum Ridge Route (III, 5.7,) is considered a mountaineering classic.

various climbing routes up the Grand Teton

A rough drawing of some of the most popular routes of the Grand Teton – photo and editing by Alan Ellis:

  • Yellow: Owen-Spalding
  • Red: Upper Exum
  • Green: Lower Exum
  • Blue: East Ridge
  • Violet: Petzoldt Ridge

Noteworthy Ascents of Grand Teton:

  • Exum Ridge: July 15, 1931; Glenn Exum
  • North Face: August 25, 1936; Jack Durrance, Paul and Eldon Petzoldt
  • East Ridge: July 22, 1929; Robert Underhill
  • First Female Ascent: August 27, 1923; Eleanor Davis
  • First Winter Ascent: December 19, 1935; Fred Brown, Paul and Eldon Petzoldt
  • First Ski Descent: June 16, 1971; Bill Briggs and Robbie Garnett via the Stettner Couloir
  • Speed Record: August 26, 1983; Bryce Thatcher; 3 hr., 6 min.; Lupine Meadows to summit and back
  • First Grand Traverse: 1966; Jim McCarthy, Lito Tejada-Flores
  • Grand Traverse Speed Record: 2000; Rolando Garibotti; 6 hours, 49 minutes
  • First Winter Grand Traverse: January 19, 2004; Stephen Koch and Mark Newcomb

thesnazdotcom posted this video showing the climb up Upper Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton, and down the Owen Spalding route. Gives you a good idea of what to expect.

There is also an ultramarathon run in the national park, known as the Grand Teton 100 Ultramarathon.

The race is either a 100 mile event or a slightly less demanding 50 mile race through the Teton Mountains.

The course is a “clover-leaf style” loop, with each loop consisting of 25 miles in length over terrain that includes single-track, service roads, bike trails and short stretches of pavement. The competitors will take on 5000 feet of vertical gain per loop. The 50 mile event is expected to last roughly 17 hours while the 100 mile course is estimated to take 36 hours.

The race is to be held on Saturday, September 05, 2009 @ 5:00 AM – Sunday, September 06, 2009 @ 6:00 PM.

Entries close on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 @ 11:59 PM.

An added benefit to this extreme family friendly marathon is the wonderful scenery that you will be surrounded by …

Click here to view the event organizer’s website

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