Recently I was invited by Salewa to climb the Grand Teton as part of a press trip they were putting together. We helped launch the brand in the US and, subsequently, have had a lot of success with the brand, so this was a bit of a “thank you.”
Our group met on Wednesday and took the Jackson Hole Tram up to 10,000 feet for an acclimatization hike. Later we swung by Jackson Hole Mountain Guides to do a gear shake down and meet our guides. I was very impressed by the operation JHMG runs. First, they have a fully stocked high camp at 11,000 feet, so other than personal gear all you have to pack up is a little bit of food. All the climbing gear, tents, sleeping bags and pads are already in camp. But JHMG also provides a comfortable, safe and friendly experience that is truly a benchmark for guided trips.
We chose to do a three day climb: one day to high camp, one day climbing short routes around high camp, and the last day to summit and hike out. The extra day at high camp allowed for some good acclimatizing, and was just fun to do a few multi-pitch routes on some of the lower walls around camp. It was a great opportunity to climb with new people and become comfortable with them as climbing partners.
The weather couldn’t have been better, despite some wildfires. Warm and sunny all day, breezy and never cooler than 35 at night. The day of the climb was a bit cooler and the wind really picked up once we hit the lower saddle, but the sun came out by the time we reached the step around and the rest of the Upper Exum Ridge is in sunlight.
The climb was spectacular, challenging but mostly because of the altitude. The rock quality is superb, with only a few loose holds, most of which are easily identifiable. The route is fairly straight forward, though some of the gullies look a lot alike, so it you should have plenty of beta or use a guide.
According to the guides at JHMG, September can be a tricky month for climbing. It could be fabulous weather, as I was fortunate enough to experience, or it could be snowing with verglas ice on the upper mountain (which actually was the case the week before we arrived).

I think the route is very do-able for most climbers comfortable with leading 5.8 or higher. The two tricky pieces would be route finding (as I mentioned you can do it with good beta) and altitude. With some good training hikes (Hood, Adams, Helen’s, Defiance, etc.) and a bit of acclimatization and the Grand is very attainable – and highly recommended.

For a complete account of the trip you can read my full blog post.

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