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Grand Teton - Car to Car


Original Post
sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

Hi all,
If I were to do the Grand via Upper Exum car to car, how long should it take me to hike from the TH to the Lower Saddle? Right now I can hike about 1,100 feet an hour at a comfortable pace, without pushing hard. So that would take me about 4.5-5hrs. Is that typical for a car to car push, or do I need to be faster? Those that have done the car2car, how long did it take you to get to the Lower?

Trying to decide between a car to car or just camping at the Moraine.

thanks.

NateC · · Utah · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

If 1100 ft of gain per hour is your comfortable pace, I think you'll likely want to camp if you prefer the experience to be on the more enjoyable side of life. You could do it in a push, but I feel that pace won't lend itself to an enjoyable experience late in the day.

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 1,113

I enjoyed doing the Grand car to car at that pace (TH to upper saddle in 5 hours).
I'd only pack camping gear in if you are going to do multiple objectives.

Philip Magistro · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 0
sandrock wrote: Hi all,
If I were to do the Grand via Upper Exum car to car, how long should it take me to hike from the TH to the Upper Saddle? Right now I can hike about 1,100 feet an hour at a comfortable pace. So that would take me about 4.5-5hrs. Is that typical for a car to car push, or do I need to be faster?

Trying to decide between a car to car or just camping at the Moraine.

thanks.

A few thoughts:


Check the weather.  If you start at midnight with your pace, you will be on the mountain late in the day.   If the weather is clear that may be fine, but otherwise you run the risk of being caught in a storm.

I am sure it was a slip on your end, but you know that the Upper Exum starts quite far below the upper saddle?

Finally, your hiking time is only as small part of the equation.  How quickly can you move through several thousand feet of 3rd to low 5th class terrain?

In my opinion, in a day climbs are often easier overall but tend to be long days.  Best of luck!!
sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115
Philip Magistro wrote:

A few thoughts:


Check the weather.  If you start at midnight with your pace, you will be on the mountain late in the day.   If the weather is clear that may be fine, but otherwise you run the risk of being caught in a storm.

I am sure it was a slip on your end, but you know that the Upper Exum starts quite far below the upper saddle?

Finally, your hiking time is only as small part of the equation.  How quickly can you move through several thousand feet of 3rd to low 5th class terrain?

In my opinion, in a day climbs are often easier overall but tend to be long days.  Best of luck!!

Yes thank you. I meant the Lower Saddle.  I'll be going with a friend that has climbed the route several times, so not too worried about time once we get on the route.

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,648

I'd highly recommend doing the grand in a car to car push.  If you are fit and going at a good pace, getting to the lower saddle should take 3.5-4.5 hours.  

Miguel D · · SLC · Joined May 2014 · Points: 483

If our climb serves as a vague reference point:

We went in a group of 5. Started from the car at 3am. I believe it took us about 4 hours to the lower saddle. Climbed the Petzoldt Ridge as one party of two and one party of three. We moved at a decent pace pitching everything out and then soloed the Upper Exum (except for two short sections where we belayed a member of our group). I forget the times when we hit the saddles, the summit, etc. But we turned on our headlamps as we started going back down the lower saddle.

Overall we had a 21 hour day, car to car. I think if you are in decent shape, everyone moves moderately efficiently, and is comfortable with some low 5th scrambling, you could do it in 17-20 hours I would imagine.

Edit: the Lower Exum should go considerably faster than the Petzoldt Ridge. My estimate was taking the same route we did, but going up the full exum I'd imagine under 18 hours wouldn't be too hard to do

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,648

Starting at 3am would put you just before the lower saddle at first light to help make the scree fields go easier.  Then keeping the pace, you'd summit at 9am and be back at the car at 3pm... ish

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 229

Here's a friend's Strava track to inspire you: https://www.strava.com/activities/1755229102/overview. About 5 1/2 hours from Lupine Meadows to the summit and 4 1/2 hours for the descent. After biking 22 miles from Jackson. And swimming a mile across Jenny Lake. And then the same in reverse.

The fastest known time for the round trip from Lupine Meadows is an incredible 2h 53m. https://fastestknowntime.com/route/grand-teton-wy.

BillS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

I would say the effort to the summit is not too unequivalent to the Barr trail in the Springs.  If the Upper is of no technical consequence, times will be similar.  If you’re carrying a pack with gear and a rope, then way longer.  10-15 hours c2c is probably an average, under 8 healthy, under 5 elite.   If you’re not on the lower saddle in under 6, I’d consider turning around.

sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

Thanks everyone, I have a few more weeks until the climb so I'm going to do a lot of hiking and see if I can cover the distance faster. Sounds like aimjng for 4-4.5 hours is good. 

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Those FKT's, in addition to being irrelevant for anyone but the elite few, are for the shorter and easier Owen-Spaulding route.

I have a different take, which is that I actually like being in the mountains and enjoy spending more time there rather than less.  The prettiest campsites are in the Meadows, but these are also the furthest from the summit.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 14,421

Kinda like rgold's put...nice to spend a night up there (or two).

Looking at my notes...my only car-to-car Grand trip was 20 years ago (nearly to the day).  I think we got to the lower saddle in 4 hours.  Took a break.  Total time to summit was 9 hours and a leisurely time out for 15 hours car-to-car.  Didn't seem too bad at the time, and, we didn't push it.

Route finding, if you've never been up there...may be the crux...

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

A big part of the reasoning for ctc  is not having to stress over getting a permit..

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

True, but when I was there last summer there didn't seem to be that much of a problem getting permits if you showed up at the ranger station at 6 am or so.  But I didn't try to camp in the Meadows last summer so don't know how hard it might have been.  (I took the picture on a ctc solo conditioning hike up South Teton, something that people almost always do ctc, sometimes including the easy scramble up Middle Teton as well.)

Many years ago we'd go up and camp at the Platforms for a week...

BillS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

Depends on the morning but 6am could leave you last in line and without a permit - for at least the past 20 years.  Meadows permits are easier because nobody wants to bivy that far away from the Grand, you might be able to show up at noon for those.  Logistically, it's a bad idea, unless you're taking 2 days to get to the Saddle for whatever reason.  Lower Saddle permits will almost always require shenanigans - ie, you have to know the rules well and then probably bend them.  In general, permits to bivy for the Grand are definitely a pain.

You really don't need to bivy for something like the Upper Exum.  If you're fit enough to be safe and do well on the route, you should be fit enough to get it done in under 16 hours or so from Lupine - a reasonable alpine day.  I've done both c2c and bivy many times, both are fun, just depends.  If OP is the type to be calculating their ascent rate, they'll probably be fine.  If things go slower than expected, bail over to the Owen Spalding.  Just go.

Colin O'Brien · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 140

The other thing to keep in mind for going c2c on any route is the wait for the guides.  I went up Lupine to the Upper Exum and was just under 12 hours, leaving at 1 in the morning, but we burned at least 2 hours waiting for a guided party to rap their 6 clients down the one rapel route.  We met them just before they were setting rappels, and they refused to let us rap through. If you can't be moving through the moraine by 430am, it's going to get very crowded.  We blew past probably 30 guided clients in headlamps, and being behind those groups, even to get to the base of the route, would be a nightmare.  I passed a guided party just past Wall St., and the guide was very, very aggressive in not wanting me to move past, despite her being in a party of 3 and her two climbers being relatively unfit. If you can't be in front of these groups going cart-to-car, I would definitely walk in the night before and wake up earlier.

BillS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

FYI - the guides have no authority to tell you what to do, and most won't unless you're doing something genuinely selfish and dumb.  There is plenty of room to pass on the Upper, dozens of variations, there are 2 independent rap lines, and the OS can be down climbed or even down-lead reasonably quickly.  No reason to be held up by others nor to hold others up.  IMO, focus on your own plan and have fun with it.  Overly reacting to or trying to predict the inevitable chaos on the mountain will make for an unpleasant experience.  That said, the guides target Wall St at first light.  IMO, if you're coming from Lupine, best to be a couple hours behind that than to try and get ahead of it.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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