Symmetry Spire, North West Couloir and Ledges
4th Steep Snow R
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|Type: ||Trad, Snow, Alpine, 1500 feet, Grade II|
|Consensus: ||4th [details]|
|FA: ||Fritiof Fryxell, William Cederberg, Leland Horberg, Rudolph Edmund, Neuman Kerndt, Elof Petersen, July 13, 1931|
|Season: ||Late spring, early Summer|
|Submitted By: ||PeterSLenz on Aug 29, 2012|
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the couloir (Photo taken on the descent...
Fritiof Fryxell was a rock star in his day, and (with Robert Underhill) bagged the first ascent of the Grand Teton's North Ridge, and many other fine routes in this range. The NW Couloir on Symmetry Spire is a lesser known, but excellent route, and was first ascended by this icon of Teton climbing. Never underestimate a route first climbed in the 1930's! Climbers were tough, smart and skilled back then, just like today.
The NW Couloir of Symmetry provides is a scenic, relatively easy, and aesthetically pleasing snow and rock climb (marred only by short sections of loose rock on the upper portion of the route) which ascends from Hanging Canyon.
The snow is steep in several sections, and an uncontrolled fall from these areas could easily be fatal. The rock "ledges," at the top are considered 4th class, but are exposed, and potentially deadly. Loose rock, generally easy climbing and the wandering nature of this area discourage use of a rope, but you should plan on belaying any inexperienced climbers both on the snow and the rock. (Although it is not difficult, I do not feel this is a safe route for inexperienced climbers, or for a large party, due to rockfall potential and extensive steep snow.)
We down climbed the route. Rappels would be problematic on the upper section (due to loose rock and low angle) and are not advised.
From Hanging Canyon, ascend the couloir above the stream which connects Ramshead Lake, and Lake of the Crags. Climb on moderately steep snow to the col. (This col separates the NW and SE Couloirs). Climb rock to the East for 50-75 feet which leads to an easy ramp system. Follow this ramp leftward (North) onto the upper North West face, where exposed climbing on broken ledges leads to the summit ridge.
Descent: We down climbed the route. (The SW couloir or East ridge might be alternatives, but I have no experience with them.)
We climbed with single ice axes and crampons, and used mountain boots (no rock shoes) for the entire climb. You may or may not wish to belay the snow or rock.
Your competency on snow is the most important thing to bring to this climb. Your entire party should be skilled in the use of ice axe and crampons; self arrest techniques should be second nature. The rock ledges at the top are not difficult, but are exposed and potentially deadly. You may wish to bring rock shoes, rope and a few protection pieces if you are not comfortable solo climbing exposed rock in mountain boots.
|Photos of Symmetry Spire, North West Couloir and Ledges Slideshow
David Lenz in the upper couloir. Photo taken from ...
David Lenz enjoys the NW Couloir of Symmetry Spire...
Teewinot, Owen, and the Grand Teton as seen from h...
Keeping a cool head on the upper route.
An easy mantel, but no falls allowed.
Easy cruising on the summit ridge.
Now for the hard part....