On July 20th, 2019, three of us climbed the 13,770′ Grand Teton via the Owen Spalding Route. We headed out from the parking lot at 1:30AM, in the pitch black of night, and didn’t reach the truck again until 9:30PM. Car to car in 20 hours (just 17hrs off the FKT). Granted, this was our first time up this mountain, finding the route, and mountaineering in general. We were physically prepared to climb the mountain in the snowy and icy conditions that were ever-present on the route; however, the mental aspect of such a long day in the mountains was the real challenge.
Here’s a list of gear that we used on the climb, what I’d reccomend bringing, and what can probably be left in the car. If you’re going to solo the route, ignore the climbing gear section. And if there is no snow on the route, ignore the mountaineering gear section.
Rock Climbing Gear
- Harness | Black Diamond Momentum
- Helmet | Black Diamond Half Dome
- 70m Rope or two 35m ropes (This is needed for the main rappel)
- Belay Device | Black Diamond ATC Guide (doubles as rappel device)
- Alpine Rack or Full Rack Depending on Route and climbing ability
- Cams | Black Diamond Camalot C4 0.5-3 (Route takes cams better to build anchors)
- Nuts | DMM Wallnuts (Route takes nuts well on route)
- Accessory Cord (anchor building)
- Slings (Chimneys on route have lot of rope drag)
- Quickdraws | Trango Phase
- Locking Carabiners | Black Diamond Positron Screwgate
- Extender Sling| Black Diamond Nylon Sewn Runners (Use for anchor attachment & rappel)
- Prussik Knot (3rd Hand for Rappel)
I lead every pitch on the route and can confirm that the climbing is easy (5.4-5.6), but add ice and snow into the shaded chimneys, and you can kiss those grades goodby. Simple scramble moves turn into fully committing moves on and over ice. I placed about 2-3 pieces per pitch, and used most of the gear to build my anchors. If you have an experienced party, you can make simple, 1-piece anchors and get away with just a full set of nuts and maybe a #2 cam. Fall risk is really low, just the exposure is what gets most people. Placing gear was obvious and easy. Rope drag was a constant problem due to the chimney style of the route. People say that a 60m rope will make the main rappel, I disagree. Our 70m rope just reached the ground below the main rappel area. Rockfall is always an issue, don’t forget to wear a helmet and I always use a 3rd hand for this reason on rappels. We did not bring rock climbing shoes, they are not needed.
- Mountaineering Boots (or stiff soled boots preferred for crampon use) | Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX Backpacking Boot
- Crampons | Black Diamond Strap
- Ice Axe with leash | Black Diamond Raven Pro
Though most of the climb is on hiking trails or on rock, you will have to cross a glacier as well as steep bootpacks in gullies moving up from the lower saddle. The stiffer the boot, the better your crampons will perform. If you go with a flexible hiking boot, your crampons will also flex, resulting in poor performing crampons. A good backpacking boot, like the Zodiac, is a perfect balance and truly saved my feet when stepping on sharp rocks on the descent. Also, any ice axe will do. Just note, that you will want an ice axe length for trekking purposes and glacier travel, not a short one for climbing. And don’t forget to buy, or make, a leash. If you drop your ice axe, good luck getting it back.
Hiking Gear & Clothing
- Headlamp | Petzl Actik
- Insulated Jacket | North Face Ventrix
- Windbreaker/Rain Jacket |Terrex GTX Active Shell 3
- Buff/Neck Gaiter
- Glove Liners | Black Diamond Midweight
- Warm Gloves
- Leather Gloves to Climb In | Mechanix Wear
- 35L Pack | Black Diamond Cirque 35L
- 2L of Water
When we started up the trail, it was in the upper 50s, and by the time we reached the windy, lower saddle at sunrise, it was in the 30s. I pretty much wore my insulated jacket the entire climb. A windbreaker made a huge difference as well. I wore my leather gloves for all of the climbing because I needed the dexterity in my fingers when leading, but the rock was too cold to go bare hands. I probably brought up too much water, especially since the stream/hose at the lower saddle was flowing well. I should have gone up with a half liter to the lower saddle, brought 1-1.5 liters to the summit, refilled on the way down as needed. 35L pack is big enough because we wore most of our warm clothes the entire time leaving only extra gear, crampons, and water in our packs.
Miscellaneous Gear & Items
- First Aid Kit | Adventure Medical Mountain Series (1 per person)
- Bear Spray | Frontiersman Bear Spray (You may be on rock, but you’re still in bear country.)
- Camera | Panasonic G85 | GoPro Hero 4
- Sleeping Bag | North Face Guide 20 (If you choose to get some sleep in the parking lot before you head out).
- Sleeping Pad | Therma-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
- Spare Batteries for all electronics (Phone, headlamp, camera, etc.)
- Snacks, Gels, Candy, and Lunch
Don’t forget bear spray! We ran into a bear at 9PM, only a 1/4 mile from the trailhead. Bring as much food as you need and think you can consume while moving. My go-to’s are granola bars, Gatorade gels, fruit snacks, and meats + cheeses for lunch.
There you have it, everything you’d need to get to the summit of the Grand. I can’t wait to go back in the early fall when there’s no snow present and just be able to go up with a small running pack for food, water, and a jacket and solo the entire thing in a fraction of the time! If you have any questions, or concerns, please reach out and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
Good climbing, enjoy every moment!