Friday, September 20, 2013

Grand Teton Climbing Conditions - End of the Season

Grand Teton Climbing Conditions
Trip Report for Saturday 9-21-13 and 10-26-13

UPDATE  March 2nd, 2014:  Jackson is receiving above average snowfall this winter. The summer approach to the Grand Teton will take longer to burn off if the trend continues.

UPDATE  December 13th:  Geminid Meteor Shower lights up skies. Ursid Meteor Shower peaks 21st & 22nd. Quadrantids peak on Jan 3rd, 2014. All GTNP Visitor Centers are closed for the winter. Call 307.739.3399 for more information.

UPDATE  November 18th:  No more free camping in GTNP.  Starting Jan 2014, backcountry camping permit fees are $25 for walk-ins and $35 for permits purchased in advance. A backcountry permit for Grand Teton climbers can cover between one and six people. Group permits cover seven to 12.

UPDATE Trip Report for Saturday October 26th: The snow starts at the first boulder field by the Platforms Camping Area and continues to the summit. A well pounded snow path covers much of the ascent. Some south aspects are dry. There's more snow than ice on the Owen-Spalding Route and the ice is easy to avoid or manage. The snow was a little slippery. Crampons may prove useful for some climbers. Sunday, 10-27-13, will probably be the last day to summit without crampons or ice tools for those comfortable soloing mixed conditions. Saturday was warm and mostly calm. Trip Photos are here.

We stop soloing once a quick ascent becomes difficult to accomplish safely. A few others will use ice tools and summit throughout the fall & winter. Skiers climb the couloirs to the east of the Exum Ridge to reach the summit when conditions permit.

View from the summit looking east (N-S Panorama). October 26th, 2013

View from the summit looking west (N-S Panorama). October 26th, 2013

As of October 23rd, GTNP reopened a week ago. 

Jackson Forecast on Wednesday October 23rd. Averages for Jackson Hole.

As of October 1st, GTNP is closed and the National Weather Service has stopped issuing the Recreational Forecast for select locations in GTNP.

As of September 30th, the JLCR posted this update: "Snow continues to fall on and off above 10,500'. We are finding about 6" of snow at that elevation and more at higher elevations in 2-3 foot wind drifts."  Recent snowfall information from Meteorologist Jim Woodmence's Blog (Friday, September 27).

 Sun Tracker
Solar Noon (Transit) was at 1:13 pm on 9-29.
The 'Noon' in the picture above is 12 pm daylight savings time.  ~ Sun Tracker ~

As of September 21st, the Jenny Lake Ranger Station and the Climbers' Ranch were closed for the season. The Lower Saddle's Weather Station was shuttered. Exum Mountain Guides & Grand Teton National Park had dismantled their climbing huts at the Lower Saddle. JHMG dismantled their Corbet's high camp by Teepe Glacier the previous week. And lastly, it was announced that no buildings other than bathrooms will be open to the public in GTNP during the winter of 2013-14.

Trip Report for September 21, 2013

Saturday 9-21: The critical areas on the Upper Exum route were passable and no serious issues were reported by those who climbed it with protection. Snow was on the Wall Street slab. Much of the ice on the Owen-Spalding route was easy to avoid or manage - it will slow you down. A few streams of thick ice were seen by the Needle along with plenty of verglas in the morning. We took the Briggs Slab to avoid the Chockstone Chimney during the ascent to the Upper Saddle. We also avoided the Central Rib's Black Rock Chimney and headed to the Western Rib on the east side of the upper Dartmouth Couloir. The access to the 2nd Entrance of the Double Chimney was sketchy with icy holds & slippery conditions as you pull yourself into the chimney. It's unusual for the 1st Entrance to be the better option but it looked better after the death-grip traverse to the 2nd Entrance. The Catwalk was impassable without protection or crampons. The rest of the summit block was easier to climb. The access to the Eye of the Needle's northern opening was slick during the descent. A few small patches of snow were on the trail near the first drainage out of the Teepe Glacier area. The weather was pretty nice - we arrived at the summit in the afternoon. Monday & Tuesday may be nice days for climbing. You can expect more ice and snow before the last weekend in September. You might find that an axe comes in handy to clean a few holds. Crampons may be needed.

Rt-Click on an image to open a larger size in a new browser tab or window.

Yearling Black Bear 5 feet off trail.

Catwalk - Rock-hard snow and ice

Short distance above Briggs Slab on the Central Rib's Bench

Two deer on the trail.

Bottom of the Owen Chimney with BG, James, and Josh.

Sargent's Chimney

Looking at Central Rib's Bench from the Western Rib. Lower Saddle in background.

The Crawl descent. Access to the Double Chimney in background by snow.

The Crawl ascent

OS Couloir on left, Chockstone Chimney on right.

Climber going over the 'Belly Roll Almost'. Briggs Slab in foreground. Eye of the Needle in background.

Climber on the Western Rib between the Lower & Upper Saddles

Looking toward the Exum Ridge. Climber approaching Wind Tunnel area (by level ridge). Wall St bottom right.

Middle Teton

Summit. Jackson Lake in background.

Summit of Teewinot  (right side). Jackson lake in background, Jenny Lake foreground.

Looking toward East Ridge. Delta, Surprise, Amphitheater, Bradley & Taggart Lakes.

Ledge just above Belly Roll. Upper Saddle in background just off ledge.

Looking down the Owen Chimney from top.

Bottom Owen Chimney.

West aspect just below summit.

Eye of the Needle - exit on descent.

View toward Garnet Canyon's Meadows

A few ice streams by the Needle. Verglas was plentiful in the morning.

View from the Lower Saddle toward the Upper Saddle, Central Rib, Exum Ridge, etc.

Lower Saddle camping areas

Water hose at Lower Saddle.

Middle Teton

Spalding Falls

Tree by trail.

Fall Colors - Thursday 26th


Forecast leading up to the climb on Sept. 21st.

The National Weather Service's Saturday forecast (9-21) near the Grand Teton at 10,400' was calling for "Mostly sunny, with a high near 53. Breezy, with a southwest wind 22 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph". The wind never really showed up other than the usual breeze at the Lower Saddle.

Friday's forecast for the climb on Saturday (9-21)
9-20 Friday Evening Forecast near the GT

             THU|   THU|   FRI|   FRI|   SAT|
                | NIGHT|      | NIGHT|      |
LOWER SADDLE          39|    28|    52|    33|    52| TEMP(F)
11600 FT              W  6| SW  6|  S 10| SW 13| SW 22| WIND(MPH)
                        0%|    0%|    0%|    0%|   10%| PRECIP(%)
GRAND TETON SUMMIT    31|    20|    44|    25|    44| TEMP(F)
13775 FT              W  4| SW  5| SW  9| SW 12| SW 21| WIND(MPH)
                        0%|    0%|    0%|    0%|   10%| PRECIP(%)

The Lower Saddle Weather Station is down for the winter.  Image captured on Friday (9-19) morning.

Wednesday's Forecast (9-25) four days after the climb on Sept. 21st.
             WED|   WED|   THU|   THU|   FRI|
                | NIGHT|      | NIGHT|      |
LOWER SADDLE          24|    14|    17|    13|    21| TEMP(F)
11600 FT             SW 15| SW 17|  W 10| NE 14| NW 13| WIND(MPH)
                      100%|   80%|   80%|   70%|   60%| PRECIP(%)
GT SUMMIT             16|     6|     9|     5|    13| TEMP(F)
13775 FT             SW 14| SW 15|  W  7|  N  9| NW  9| WIND(MPH)
                      100%|   80%|   80%|   70%|   70%| PRECIP(%)


Conditions (Summer only)
Lower Saddle Approach - JLCR
Contact a Visitor Center for the latest conditions.

The Jenny Lake Ranger Station is CLOSED until 

the next climbing season in 2014.
All Visitor Centers will close by Nov 4th.
More info: Call 739-3300

Grand Teton Webcams
 More Webcams / Thumbnails
 Some webcams have been having trouble recently.
Please check the date and time.

Climber's Ranch Webcam - October 5th, 2013

Select  2013  Trip Reports
The OS is rated a 5.4 & the UXM a 5.5

Other Trip Reports
"Light & Fast on the Grand Teton"
is a nice free-soloing blog post from Owen-Spalding via Catwalk Owen-Spalding via Owen Chimney Upper Exum Upper Exum Upper Exum Route
Greta Jensen's 2012 Grand Adventure
Grand Teton Links & Stats
Overview Map of OS & UXM Routes
GTNP Peaks
Grand Traverse Pataclimb .com
Outside Mag 2012 Grand Traverse

 Mark P Thomas has some of the best Teton trip
 reports I have ever seen. Check these out:
Teton Grand Slam & Lower Exum TR

Virtual Tours

Fastest Grand Teton Round-Trip Times (FKT)
Kilian Jornet  2:54:01
Andy Anderson 2:53:02
Woman's record -  Emilie Forsberg 3:51

Grand Traverse (FKT)
Woman's record - Kim Csizmazia 12:26
Note: Rolando & Kim ran together on Kim's record time.

Map of the Grand Traverse

The distance to the top of the Grand Teton via the OS route was estimated to be 7.7 miles from the Lupine Meadows trailhead with a gain of about 7000 ft (1.3 miles). The 7.7 miles is often disputed. Kilian's GPS watch recorded a 12 mile round-trip with shortcuts. Google Earth pegs the round-trip near 13.8 miles (see below). On the Grand Traverse, Rolando has the overall elevation gain near 12,000 feet and a distance near 14 miles. An Outside Magazine story has a "total elevation change of more than 20,000 feet" and a distance near 14 miles. The distance should be greater than the round-trip distance of the OS route. The level of climbing difficulty ranges up to 5.8 on the Grand Traverse (YDS class). Other Fastest Known Times for the Tetons are here.

Who Climbs the Grand Teton?

The young and old successfully summit the Grand Teton every summer. 80-year-old Bob Riggs reached the summit in 2007 via the Owen-Spalding route. Between 1956 & 1958, 7-year-old Jeff Lowe, Greg Lowe (age 8), and Mike Lowe (age 10) all climbed the Exum Ridge with their father Ralph. Peter Eubank, at age 5 (possibly 6), climbed the OS with his dad and two sisters in 2011. A 7-year-old Greta Jensen reached the summit on her third attempt in 2012 and currently holds the record for the youngest person to solo the Owen-Spalding ascent. An out-of-shape Geraldine Lucas reached the top in 1924 at the age of 58. She was the first local woman to summit (2nd woman to summit). 51-year-old Nancy Stevens became the first blind woman to summit in 2012 (2nd blind person). Disabled veterans like Chad Jukes reach the summit with prosthetic legs. The Boy Scouts find their way to the top. Of course, many climbers don't make it to the summit and most young children should not be climbing the Grand. Only a small percentage of climbers solo or attempt a round-trip in one afternoon but if the weather is nice and you're a very strong hiker then there's no reason to avoid such endeavors if you're comfortable with the climb.


Grand Teton National Park Information
GTNP Trailhead Maps
Lupine Meadows Trailhead &
Approach to Garnet Canyon (PDF)
GTNP Winter Map (PDF) Link
GTNP Winter Guide & MAP (PDF) Link
 (Other Maps are further below) 
Information (307) 739-3300 

Lost & Found Items
Contact the nearest Visitor Center

or call the Lost & Found Hotline at
(307) 739-3350 and leave a message.

Telephone Numbers
GTNP Lost & Found 307.733.3350
GTNP Emergency Dispatch 307.739.3301, or 911
Jenny Lake Ranger Station 307.739.3343 8-5 pm the winter call 307.739.3309
Moose Visitor Center 307.739.3399
Winter Hotline 307.739.3399
Visitor Information 307.739.3300
Public Affairs Office  307.739.3393
Moosely Mountaineering (in GTNP) 307.739.1801
Climber's Ranch (in GTNP) 307.733.7271
Weather NWS 1-800-211-1448 or GT 307.739.3611

2014 National Park Fee-Free Days
January 20,  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15-17,  President's Day Weekend 
April 19-20,  National Park Week
August, 25,  National Park Service Birthday
September 27,  National Public Lands Day
November 11,  Veterans Day Weekend

Please check the latest forecast. 

Jackson Hole Forecast
NWS 7-Day Forecast near the Grand Teton
The above point forecast near the GT
(shown below "Current Conditions")

is at 43.74N 110.79W Elev. 11598 ft.
The "Current Conditions" are only for Jackson.
 Weather Access Map from
WeatherSpark Forecast Map

Be sure to read any Watches, Warnings, Advisories, or
Hazardous Weather Outlook messages.
Weather 1-800-211-1448 or 307.739.3611
 NOAA's Online School for Weather

 Radar / Satellite
NWS's US Radar Loop Map

Localized Radar Map (WY)
Western US Loop Sat/Rad
US Surface Maps & Observations
Google Weather Hazards Map
Intellicast Weather Map

Fog can quickly freeze to rock and make it impossible to safely navigate the mountain if you are soloing. Additionally, thick fog can make route finding difficult and hide incoming weather. Be cognizant of the direction that temperatures are moving under foggy conditions. Generally speaking, the temperature drops 3.3°F on cloudy days per 1000' in elevation gain and drops 5.4°F on sunny dry days. The National Weather Service almost always predicts a temperature difference of 8°F between the Summit and the Lower Saddle regardless of the weather during the summer.

Snow Data
Not quite snow season, just a preview.

Snow Forecast - Probabilistic Winter Precipitation
Jackson Hole Snowfall last 24 hrs & 7-Day (X Data X)
Teton Range Snowfall last 48 hrs
Altitude sickness

The body needs time to adjust to higher elevations. The reduced air pressure means thinner air, or less oxygen. With fewer oxygen molecules in every breath, the body has to work harder. As oxygen in the lungs decreases, the blood becomes less efficient at circulating it to the brain and other organs. At an altitude of 13,775 ft (4200 m) an average person has 9% less oxygen in their blood at rest as they would at sea level. As soon as any exercise is taken, the oxygen level in the blood decreases further. Altitude sickness has stopped many climbers from ascending the Grand Teton and its effects can become a serious safety hazard. In groups, individual denial of hazardous symptoms is very common.

Emergency Care
Emerg+A+Care After hours call 307-733-8002 for 24/7 service.
Powderhorn Mall 982 W Broadway
Dr. Hayse often works late & w/o appointment.
307-733-6700 269 W Broadway

Backcountry Skiing
See winter closure maps below.
Jackson, Teton County, Wyoming
 (longitude W110.8, latitude N43.5)
Monthly Phase of the Moon
Names of moon phases

2014 Full Moons
Jan 15  21:52
Feb 14  16:53
Mar 16  10:09
Apr 15  00:42
May 14  12:16
Jun 12  21:11
Jul 12  04:25
Aug 10  11:09
Sep  8  18:38
Oct  8  03:51
Nov  6  15:23
Dec  6  05:27

2014 Meteor Showers  (IMO)
A bright moon will dampen the quality of the show.
Jan 2-3 Peak Quadrantids
Apr 21-22 Peak Lyrids
May 5-6 Peak Eta Aquariids
Jul 27-28 Peak Delta Aquariids
Jul 28-29 Peak Alpha Capricornids
Aug 11-12 Peak Perseids
Oct 8-9 Peak Southern Taurids 
Oct 21-22 Peak Orionids
Nov 12-13  Peak Northern Taurids
Nov 17-18 Peak Leonids
Dec 13-14 Peak Geminids
Dec 21-22 Peak Ursids

Sky Map for Teton Valley
Google Sky Map
 World Light Pollution Atlas
NASA Astronomy Club Map (JH Club)
Stellarium is a free open source planetarium
Twilight Calculator

 GTNP Air Quality & Visibility Data
The GTNP Air Quality website.
The Webcam
Visibility Charts
The AQ site may have problems displaying data.

View Larger Google Map of the Grand Teton

Jackson Hole Winter Closure Maps (PDF's)
Dark Purple areas are closed on FS maps
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Map

Map Collections
PDF's of USGS Quadrangle maps from the 1800's onward are
available from the Map Downloader page at the USGS Store.
New GeoPDF USGS 7.5" maps are also available.
These maps are FREE to download.


For viewing the GeoPDF maps within
Adobe Reader use the TerraGo Toolbar.
USGS Video about GeoPDF Maps

USGS Master Index Map for WY Quadrangles

PDF's & TIFF's
Tiff images will download the fastest
USGS 7.5 min Grand Teton 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Mount Moran 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Ranger Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Survey Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1989 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Colter Bay 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Rammell Mountain 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Jenny Lake 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
 USGS 7.5 min Teton Village 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Mount Bannon 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Granite Basin 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Rendezvous Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1968 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Teton Pass 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
 USGS 7.5 min Palisades Peak 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Victor 2013 (GeoPDF-zip) 1978 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Driggs 2013 (GeoPDF-zip) 1978 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Flagg Ranch 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1996 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS 7.5 min Grassy Lake Reservoir 2012 (GeoPDF-zip) 1989 PDF-zip / TIFF
USGS Grand Teton Quadrangle from 1899 PDF-zip

USGS 7.5 min Grand Teton 1968 (JPG)
USGS 7.5 min Mount Moran 1968 (JPG)
USGS Grand Teton Quadrangle from 1901 (JPG)
USGS Jackson Quadrangle from 1935 (JPG)
USGS Victor-Driggs Quadrangle from 1946 (JPG)


Some mobile devices offer a PDF reader that also supports GeoPDFs and leverages the GPS capability of the device to pinpoint you on the GeoPDF map. The advantage of using a GeoPDF is that it will be available offline. The disadvantage is the large file size. Additionally, the current USGS GeoPDF's lack some features available on the older USGS maps like trails! The GeoPDF maps are considered to be a work in progress & updated  on a 3 year cycle. Other types of offline mapping options for mobile devices are available - Android & iOS.

Snow King - Winter Uphill Travel Map
 JHMR Trail Maps / Google
Teton Valley Idaho Trail Maps
Grand Teton Features Map (JPG)
Grand Traverse Map GTNP (X WY X) near Jackson
Yellowstone Map (PDF)
Interactive Yellowstone Map
GTNP GeoPDF Map - Need TerraGo Toolbar
 Links: YNP ~ GTNP
Global Forest Change Map - Tetons
USFS Jackson Ranger District Maps
Caribou-Targhee National Forest Maps
Bridger-Teton National Forest Maps
 Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
Shoshone National Forest
Gallatin National Forest
Google Terrain Map GTNP
Teton County GIS Map Server
TC GIS MS Mobile Version

Wyoming National Parks, Monuments, etc 
USFS Interactive WY Recreation Map
WYDOT Travel Map
Wyoming Snowmobile Maps (X OHV-ORV X)
 Wyoming State Trails Avalanche Hazard Maps 
WY State Land Access Map
Wyoming County Map - US Census Interactive
Wyoming Statewide Parcel Viewer
Wyoming Bike Route Map (PDF)
Wyoming Bike Route Road Grades (PDF)
Wyoming Continental Divide National Scenic Trail Detail Maps
ArcGIS - Wyoming Whitewater River Put-ins  
American Trails - WY

Utah National Parks, Monuments, etc
BLM Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Map
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Map (Interactive)
Lake Powell Area (PDF) 
Utah Walking & Biking Maps - UDOT
Utah OHV Maps (X DNR & MotoUtah X)
Utah Geological Survey
Utah Fishing Map
CanyoneeringUSA Map Downloads
Moab Biking Maps
Park City Trails

Idaho National Parks, Monuments, etc
Idaho Trails Map
Idaho TD GIS
IDT Bike Map (PDF)
Idaho Biking Map Links
Idaho Whitewater

Colorado National Parks, Monuments, etc
Colorado Bicycling Maps (X Links X)
The Colorado Trail
Colorado MVU Maps (X Interactive X) 
Colorado Fishing Atlas / Hunting

Montana National Parks, Monuments, etc
Cycling Routes in Montana (X MDOT X)
Montana State Parks

NPS Maps for all National Park
NPS Geospatial PDF National Park Maps
USGS's The National Map
The National Atlas
USGS National Topo
Forest Service Map Store
USGS Free Downloads
USFS National Forest Locator Map
Wilderness Map of US
ArcGIS - ("Add" then "Search for Layers")
ArcGIS - National Geographic Layer
USGS Earth Explorer Map
USFS Land Status Map
NOAA Map of Thermal Springs (X WY list X)
USGS Geologic Maps of the Nation
National Register of Historic Places Map
CIA World Factbook
USGS Geologic Map (X Search X)
America's State Parks
Google ~ Bing
Open Street Map

American Trails
National Trails Map (JPG)
National Trails System Map
NPS National Trails System Map (Large PDF)
National Recreation Trails Database (NOT Map)
NPS National Historic Trails Map (X HTML5 version X)
Adventure Cycling Route Network Map
USFS Continental Divide National Scenic Trail Map (PDF)
ArcGIS Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
USDA Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Map
Appalachian Trail Map (PDF)

FWS National Wildlife Refuge System Map
 Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool
FWS Endangered Species Map
Find a Species - Map of Life
The North American Environmental Atlas Map

NPS Historic Dams & Water Projects Map

Many climbers have died in the Teton Range.
Stay off the Summit Block in bad weather. Don't get Summit Fever.
Ice is a Serious Danger all year long.
Falling rock is common.
Lightning is common.
Dangerous wind gusts are common.
Low temperatures are common.
Wet rock is common.
Slips on the hiking trail are common.
Injuries are common.
Avalanches are possible.
Falling snow slabs are possible.
Snow collapsing underfoot is possible.
Falling ice is possible.
Thick fog is possible.

" The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun" Alex Lowe

The website is being updated and will return anew in 2014.
It provides comprehensive descriptions of the UXM & OS routes.
You're reading our Grand Teton Climbing blog.

Enjoy Safe Climbing
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