Climbing/Backpacking the Tetons


Original Post
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 5

I am planning a trip to the tetons next season (2017) with my dad and brother. My dad doesnt climb but wants to do a backpacking trip. I cant stand the idea of going to the Tetons and not giving the Grand a try, so I am going to allocate one day to climbing.

What I am wondering is if anyone has done a trip that combined backpacking and climbing the Grand. If so, what (backpacking) route did you take? We are hoping to avoid and drive in campsites. I am planning to climb the Exum (full or upper, havent decided yet), so our route would need to pass by the Grand and one of our nights would need to be spent under the lower saddle.

We are looking at 4-6 nights, hiking 5-10 mi a day. Also, if there is an additional class 3 or less scramble that could be done on another peak we pass, that would be a bonus as my dad would be willing to do that. Thanks for any input.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

I've backpacked and camped on the Grand in order to climb the Full Exum route. As far as I can tell there are really only 2 trail options to take. One is the standard Lupine Trail (pretty sure that's what it's called). The other comes in from over a saddle that separates the main canyon (to the grand)that you climb from Mt. Owen. So you could hike in from Mt. Owen then head up to the Lower Saddle to climb the Grand Teton. It can be pretty windy and busy on the Lower Saddle so you might consider camping at Petzholdt Caves (no real caves there) instead of the Lower Saddle. Plus it cuts out a couple of miles of fairly steep hiking with a heavy pack. Much easier with small climbing pack and gear.

Jjensen · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 0

You could certainly consider a hike up to the lower saddle and back a "backpacking trip." However, there really isn't a trail that simply passes by the Grand and keeps going, if that makes sense. From the sound of it, I think the Teton Crest Trail would be ideal for your group. It won't give you the opportunity to climb the Grand, but It's incredible and your dad would love it. Plan a 1 or 2 day Grand Teton attempt at the beginning or end of the week, or plan another time to come back out and do it, The Grand Teton isn't going anywhere. Just my 2 cents.

Jjensen · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 0

Not to be contrary, but the trail up Garnet Canyon from Lupine Meadows is the only way to access the lower saddle that doesn't involve 4th and 5th class terrain. The Mount Owen side is pretty technical, FWIW.

Skibo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Combining a real backpacking trip and the Grand will be difficult. If you want to do some hiking (not a loop) and stay in great mountains you could combine hiking up Garnet Canyon, staying in the Meadows or so, and scramble South and Middle Teton. This would get you acclimatized for the Grand, so you could do it easily in a day from the Meadows (while your partner recovers/explores the area?). You could also combine a hike to Surprise Lake (and hike up Disappointment Peak), and then continue on to the Teton Glacier area (a few bivi sites in the area--stunning place to be).

If just backpacking, hiking from Granite Canyon to Paintbrush Canyon is exceptional.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 12,639
Jjensen wrote:Not to be contrary, but the trail up Garnet Canyon from Lupine Meadows is the only way to access the lower saddle that doesn't involve 4th and 5th class terrain.
Wasn't the original standard approach to the Lower Saddle from the West?

I think they used to take horses that way...

Not sure how viable it is, but, I've always wondered about the up Garnet down into Idaho traverse.
Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 5

Go up Garnet and then go down the west side of the saddle to Dartmouth basin and then out Cascade.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40
Jjensen wrote:Not to be contrary, but the trail up Garnet Canyon from Lupine Meadows is the only way to access the lower saddle that doesn't involve 4th and 5th class terrain.
Brian in SLC wrote: Wasn't the original standard approach to the Lower Saddle from the West? I think they used to take horses that way... Not sure how viable it is, but, I've always wondered about the up Garnet down into Idaho traverse.
I don't know about horses, but there is a route to the lower saddle from Dartmouth Basin to the West that doesn't involve 4th and 5th class climbing. See page 54, under the heading of the South Fork of Cascade Canyon, of A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range by Ortenburger and Jackson for a description of the route.

See also mountainproject.com/v/appro... and rootsrated.com/jackson-hole... and supertopo.com/climbers-foru....

and here is a winter view from the West from snowbrains.com/dartmout-cou... , cropped and annotated (click to view full size). The couloir labeled "Dartmouth Couloir" is the way up to the Lower Saddle from the West.

Dartmouth Couloir---Western approach to Lower Saddle

View into Dartmouth Basin from the Lower Saddle from
wyomingwhiskey.blogspot.com... (late June) I think the Dartmouth Couloir is visible over the first red ridge.



Here's what the Dartmouth Couloir looks like in the summer...looks like quite a scree slog. (Click and then choose to view full size.) Foreshortening probably makes the angle look steeper than it is---see Dartmouth Basin photo just above for a better estimate. The source for this photo is annestravels.net/table-moun....

Grand and Middle from Table Mountain showing Dartmouth Couloir to Lower Saddle
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

I'm bumping this because I'm interested to hear if anyone has approached the Lower Saddle from Dartmouth Basin up that couloir in the summer.

Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 5

I have. Several years ago. I was guiding for JHMG and had a client that wanted to do a non standard climb of the grand. It was earlier in the season and still had some snow to get to the saddle. It was a good trip and the client was happy with it.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

Norm, how many days did you take and where (I'm assuming more than a day for the round trip to the valley) did you camp?

ChrisN · · Morro Bay, CA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

If you're thinking of going up and over, the final 4th class scramble up to the Lower Saddle (with the handline) may be a bit scary for someone with a heavy backpack who isn't used to that kind of terrain (ie your father?). You really wouldn't want to fall...

The Caves campsite is pretty spectacular.. We had a great few days there.

Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 5

Rich, It's been many years since I did that trip and my memory is a bit hazy with regard to specifics. We went up Cascade canyon I think we camped in Cascade forks area the first night and then camped higher in Dartmouth both before and after the climb of the Upper Exum. It was a fairly long climbing day but not really that bad since we only had to get back down to camp, we hiked out the next day. I remember being impressed with the beauty and obscurity of Dartmouth basin.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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