Grand Teton National Park is the birthplace of American alpinism, and fun fact, American rock guiding. The Grand Teton’s profile when viewed from the east is actually the logo of the American Mountain Guide’s Association. The Tetons are likely some of the most photographed mountains in the entire country. There is a good reason for that. Due to a fault line running laterally along the range, there are no foothills between the valley and the mountain crest. The Tetons rise a stunning 7,000 feet in prominence from the valley floor. As a result, the Tetons are so appealing to climb.
Guide’s Wall is worth the effort for protected, alpine climbing
Although, climbing here will not happen without some effort. “A pitch of rock climbing will require a mile of approach” is a common joke around Jackson Hole. It generally holds true. To approach Cascade Canyon’s popular Guide’s Wall without taking the ferry across Jenny Lake, you must hike 5 miles to the base. You will often be rewarded for your efforts, however. On routes like Irene’s Arete, the grueling approach will afford you stunning vistas, well-protected 5.9 climbing and great rock despite its alpine location.
The most prominent alpine rock climbing on North Ridge
The Grand Teton is, of course, the main attraction with the North Ridge being a prominent, sustained formation at 5.8. It requires a serious approach with alpine rock and snow-travel skills. One of my personal favorites is the Snaz in Death Canyon. Don’t let the name fool you, it’ll only take 4 miles of approach to some of the best 5.9-10 climbing in the Teton. Back in Cascade Canyon, No Perches Necessary will offer quality 5.9 climbing in a wide crack. Best of all, it has a very short approach!
Plan ahead for visiting the Grand Teton National Park
Summer time is definitely a good time to arrive in the Tetons. Be prepared to pay a visit to the visitor center to ensure you’re climbing with a permit, if planning to spend an overnight to climb routes like Irene’s Arete or one of the peaks. Unlike much of Wyoming, this is a national park and given its proximity to Yellowstone, is a major draw for tourism. While it is possible to escape the crowds on many rock climbs, be ever vigilant when driving through the park. Obey the speed limits, especially in regards to wildlife.
If you are looking for gear, my personal pick is Teton Mountaineering. If you’re looking for lodging, there is free but crowded camping at Shadow Mountain. If you want to be steeped in classic Teton climbing history and be inspired. I highly recommend the American Alpine Club Climber’s Ranch.