Here are 10 things that they don’t tell you about before you climb the Grand Teton via Owen Spalding Route:
1. Getting from the lower saddle to the upper saddle is arguably the toughest part on the entire climb. And the Needle, it’s way bigger in person to move up around it.
2. If there’s snow, it is going to take way longer than you plan. Between strapping your crampons on and off, to how carefully you need to move across the snow.
3. Starting at 1AM means you will be hiking all the way up to the lower saddle in the dark. Bring a good headlamp and prepare to cross boulder fields, snow crossings, and steep switchbacks in the dark.
4. YOU WILL NEED A 70M ROPE. Not for the climbing part, but for the main rappel. The bolts list it as a 40m drop. Our 70m rope just barely hit the ground when knots were tied in the end.
5. If you are uncomfortable climbing 35m pitches without gear, bring a full rack. I placed everything from a Black Diamond 0.75 to 3, and used a lot of 0.5-1″ nuts for quick belay anchors and pro. Don’t forget some slings too, the routes aren’t very straight.
6. The “hose” on the lower saddle, is just a hose attached to a funnel that collects some spring water. There is no filtration going on up-stream. I overheard the guides say they’ve never gotten sick drinking it, but just know that you might want to bring your own filter.
7. You are in bear country. Don’t forget that. Bears don’t care that you sent The Grand, they’re Bears. We ran into one a 1/4 from the trailhead after having been moving for 20hours straight. It was a shock to say the least.
8. In the summer, you won’t be in the sun until you climb out of Owen’s Chimney or above the Catwalk. So be prepared to be cold and in the shade for most of the climbing. Even when it’s 70 at the base, with windchill it’ll be in the 30s.
9. Rockfall is a serious concern. Unless you are the first one up there (beating the guided parties at 3AM), rockfall will affect you. Starting at the headwall, thru the upper saddle, and every part of the technical section up to the summit. And same for the way down too.
10. The summit is worth every second on that mountain. The view, the accomplishment, the exhaustion. It’s all worth it. Just get down safely.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.