Wittich Crack Grand Teton


Original Post
Travis James · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 100

Hi, looking to get a bit more information on this pitch as an alternative if there is a line at the 'belly roll', probably for mid August and I appreciate that things can be icy regardless of season.  Mainly is it a 150' sustained crack climb with wet icy fingers and fists? or a few 5.7 manuvers over easier terrain.  I dont fancy myself a true crack climber and I see the name but there are alot of routes that follow cracks and dont really use the techniques associated with cracks.  Also whats the belay situation for the top and any specific advice for rack - I see mtn proj lists 5 pins, a few cams/stoppers.  anything else feel free to throw in, thanks you in advance.

cdec · · SLC, UT · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 175

I did it a long time ago for the reason you mentioned. I remember it being a deep, dark gulley. I think we broke it into 2, short, pitches.

 It is certainly not a sustained crack climb or it would be the route of choice to the top.

A few moves with most easier terrain. I seem to remember a leftward traverse out of the gully, around a roof being the hardest part. 

I, of course, could be wrong in my recollection.

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

I too did it several times long time ago when I was guiding and needed an alternative route. It is not sustained in the sense that it is continuously difficult but it is definitely harder than the OS and requires a bit more gear. It is quick though once you know the way.

Mike-Mayhem · · Bozeman. MT · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

Why not just do the upper exum route? It is far and away better than the OS

Travis James · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 100

I'm planning for car to summit so I think with combination of my experience level on multipitch (slow) and the crowds this would be a more expedient option

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308

Did it in August 2015, car-to-car in a day.

Mondo conga line at the Belly Roll, as described.  We waited in line for an hour and then decided it wasn't worth the time.  Up Wittich we go.

In this photo, you can see the head of someone waiting in line for the regular OS route.  I am taking this picture from the top of Wittich, which is a reasonably long pitch.

This is the top of the technical climbing.  There is a big piton/bong on the roof and the single hardest 5.7 move I've ever done.

Building an anchor at the top required, as I recall, a #2 and a similarly sized hex.  You have to climb up a ways to find a good crack or two to build with.  I used the rope with a BFK to extend back down to the lip of the climb.  I wish I had a few more pieces and things to extend with, but I took a pretty Spartan rack (set of large nuts, #0.5, #0.75, #1, #2, and 6 alpine draws).  And a 70m rope which made the rappels easy.

I recall clipping at least 4 pitons, quite evenly spaced.  There was some ice in the cracks but apart from being cold, it didn't interfere with the climbing.

Worth noting: on our descent, the party who was in front of us was still on their way up.  Saved at least 2 hours from our day to do Wittich!

Mike-Mayhem · · Bozeman. MT · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

If possible you should just do it in two days and do the upper exum..

my humble opinion, as I really think you would have a better time

Thomas Carson · · Grand Teton National Park · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20

I have a question about the Wittich. I was planning on taking a few friends up the OS this weekend, but then I was reminded about this route. Is it possible to take 2 followers up with one 60m rope if I break it into two small pitches, or are the belay ledges too small for that?

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308
Thomas Carson wrote:

I have a question about the Wittich. I was planning on taking a few friends up the OS this weekend, but then I was reminded about this route. Is it possible to take 2 followers up with one 60m rope if I break it into two small pitches, or are the belay ledges too small for that?

I used a 70 and had barely enough for one pitch because I had to extend the anchor (using the rope) to a good crack first.

There aren't any ledges to build an anchor for the actual pitch.

Thomas Carson · · Grand Teton National Park · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20
Charlie S wrote:

I used a 70 and had barely enough for one pitch because I had to extend the anchor (using the rope) to a good crack first.

There aren't any ledges to build an anchor for the actual pitch.

So you think I should take two ropes instead of trying to use one 60m, since I'll have 2 people behind me?

Charlie Parker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

RE: "this pitch as an alternative if there is a line at the 'belly roll'"

First: Sure, the Wittich Crack is a great way to avoid the line at the Belly Roll (the Grand's Hillary Step) ...if you don't mind jacking the grade up two (or three) notches and praying for an ice-free top (which you can't see from below) in AugustI looked at it on Saturday - nice and dry as far as the eye could see (OS & UXM were almost as dry as dust, too)It's a fun line. But the idea is misguided IMO. 

If you can climb the Wittich, then you can free-solo past the line at the Belly Roll and be on top of the Wittich (on the Catwalk) in less than 5 minutes. Just be polite when passing and choose a line that doesn't get in the way of other climbers. For example: you can go under the Belly Roll or over it, you can take the 1st or 2nd entrance of the Double Chimney and exit in a variety of ways. Getting out of the Crawl can be tricky if there is a group at the 1st entrance of the DC but most roped climbers will accommodate you if you can wait 30 seconds. With good conditions you can take the lower ledge to the 2nd entrance of the DC (watch for loose rocks) or the hand-crack traverse. You can even bypass the DC and head a little further north and take a line between the Great West Chimney and the DC. You might want a rope on the bypass but it's easier and quicker than the Wittich. There can be a line at/in the DC, too. 

Heck, the GWC might be in play and free of snow and ice. And, there is another chimney just to the south of the main rappel (to the Upper Saddle) that is also a viable option to the Wittich. It usually has nicer conditions and you can avoid the Belly Roll, Crawl, DC, Catwalk / Owen Chimney stuff, and land just SW of Sargent's above the main rap. But....

Second: Why even consider the Owen if you are worried about crowds? Hit the Upper Exum and be done with the climb in the same amount of time (if you're in the OS conga line - or on the Wittich then there is no time difference). There are many ways to pass climbers on the UXM and it's a sunny route with similar (unsustained 5.4 vs unsustained 5.5) terrain. You can even bypass the "crux" of the Friction Pitch. Additionally, if the weather is nice, then just climb the OS when fewer people are on it - mid morning or early afternoon. 

Third: THERE ISN'T ALWAYS A LINE AT THE BELLY ROLL...  

Lastly: Have fun. Be it on the Wittich, UXM, OS or whatever. A backup plan is always good.

Charlie S · · Ogden, UT · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 1,308

Thomas: yes.  You could do a 70m and a 60m if you're counting ounces.

Charlie Parker: good info.  Though IF you mess up on the Belly Roll, the consequences are pretty severe.  I like the idea of UXM.  Should have considered that on my day out!

Thomas Carson · · Grand Teton National Park · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 20

Charlie Parker, I appreciate the info. I've soloed the OS 3 times, and I climbed the UXM a few weeks ago, so I know what they're both like. This time I'm taking two climbers up who have never climbed either before and want to rope up, regardless of what we do. So I was asking more about possibilities with rope length of the Wittich with 2 climbers following.

Charlie S, Thanks, good to know. I'll probably just go with the OS.

Side note, does anybody know if you can do the UXM with 3 people on 1 rope, or is a second rope necessary? I wasn't paying too close attention to pitch length when I did it before.

Charlie Parker · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

Thomas:

The OS is the least interesting line on the Grand when it's busy. A better plan may just be making the Wittich the objective and use the OS as a backup if your party is willing to actually climb the Wittich under unknown conditions in August (usually at its best, BTW, between now and mid-August).

As for the UXM, a single 60m rope is used by parties of three all the time. A single 60m rope can also used on the Wittich.


Charlie: 

Anyone who can climb the Wittich can free-solo the OS with little effort and little worries if it's dry. Obviously, if you have a heart attack, or whatever, a rope comes in handy just as a seat belt comes in handy if you're driving while having a stroke. Inexperienced climbers prone to mistakes like poor footing on loose rocks should try a rope. The OS is Chutes and Ladders to the Wittich's RISK.

I don't think there has ever been a death or injury or any type of fall recorded off of the Belly Roll or the Crawl. People have taken falls from the Double Chimney area - lightning blast, and inexperience mixed with poor conditions being the most recent two events. Plenty of people die soloing and plenty of people die while on guided or protected climbs but soloing the OS is less risky than playing football if you're fit, mindful, and prepared, IMO.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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