Type: Trad, Alpine, 800 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: FA 1963 by Philip Jacobus and Steve Larson, FFA 1977 by Jim Donini and Mike Munger
Page Views: 12,582 total · 80/month
Shared By: Andy Laakmann on Mar 8, 2006
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

52 Opinions

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A Teton classic with great exposure, a short (by Teton standards) approach and simple descent. Not to be missed!

The climb follows a beautiful crack/dihedral system just right of a huge arete. The bulk of the climbing is stellar finger-crack climbing on good rock with airy belays and spectacular exposure. Expect semihanging belays on most pitches.

The climb faces south, so it does benefit from some solar warming.

Pitch 1 - The guidebooks suggest two starts - either a direct 5.9 finger/handcrack or a traverse in from the right. I've done both and the direct start is the way to go. Better crack, and way less rope drag. After tackling the 40 feet of 5.9 jamming, work up an easy section of rock and find a belay stance (below the first overhang?) seem to recall a less-than-perfect anchor here - with a small nut being the best piece.

Pitch 2 - Awesome 5.8 climbing on beautiful, stellar rock. Just keep chugging away straight up the obvious crack. You'll pass a small overhang (to the right) on this pitch. Great protection the whole way. Belay on top of a big detached flake at a small stance.

Note: You can combine Pitch 1 and 2 above (provided you do the direct start) with a 60m rope - which will *just* make it.

Pitch 3 - The money pitch. Cranking 5.8 liebacking off the belay (slick feet) leads up to an AWESOME section of finger-crack climbing and stemming through a small overhang ending up at a sloping belay ledge below a giant roof. Perfect rock.

Pitch 4 - Improbable but straightforward climbing to the right and up through the roof on great holds. After clearing the roof, follow the crack system up and right to another sloping belay ledge beneath an attractive crack.

Pitch 5 - Two options here as well. You can go right and have some easy 5th-class climbing, or straight up another great crack pitch finishing with a 5.9+ roof move. Good pro makes this pitch recommended, even if the grade might be a little intimidating. Belay on a huge ledge.

Pitch 6 - Face climb straight up until you can get into the big crack. Once the crack ends traverse up and right to finish the climb.

I've comfortably done this route in about 7 1/2 hours car to car moving efficiently, but not racing by any means.

Location and Descent

Follow the directions for Disappointment Peak to get into Garnet Canyon proper.

If my memory serves, you'll walk up Garnet Canyon about 20-30 minutes before leaving the trail and heading up the talus to your right. If you get to the Platforms, you've gone too far. The Platforms is the end of the maintained trail.

You can spot the route from the trail by looking for an impressive wall to the North of the trail, with a textbook "open book" a little ways right of a huge arete. The "open book" has 3 roofs visible in it, the first two being small, and the last one being huge.

Head up the talus (I couldn't find an obvious trail) for about 30 minutes to the base of the route. Some 4th-to-easy-5th-class scrambling takes you to the base of the first pitch.

Descent: I've always left my pack at the Garnet Canyon/Amphitheater Lakes trail junction (do not leave any food in your pack!!). This greatly simplifies the descent. Once you top out, just head down the steep grassy/talus slope to the NE and find your way to Amphitheater & Surprise Lakes. Then just follow this trail down (30 minutes?) to your pack. Another 45 minutes and it is time for ice cream at the Jenny Lake store!


Here's what I brought...

Doubles of either TCUs or Aliens. No need for the microsizes.
Black Diamond 2x#0.5, 2x#0.75, 2x#1, one #2, one #3
Nuts (include some small ones/RPs)
Nick Stayner
Wymont Kingdom
Nick Stayner   Wymont Kingdom
On the .9+ pitch, you can pull the roof off right at like 5.8. What an amazing route! Something to consider- the crux pitch (both the 5.8 undercling/lb and the 5.9 fingers) often seep until midseason. Not something you'd expect from a south-facing, relatively low rock climb. Mar 9, 2006
We left our stuff at the base off the climb since we camped at the Meadows. So, descending back into Garnet Canyon although I'm sure is a little less pleasurable than via Surprise Lake, is still not too bad. You'll end up descending in the gully to the right of the climb. After a little wandering, we encountered 2 sling rappels on trees before getting to the gully for an easy walk. Aug 16, 2006
Salt Lake City, UT
Wavey   Salt Lake City, UT
Excellent rock climb with great crack climbing!! Finger and hand cracks lead up this awesome obtuse dihedral. Stays in the shade til later in the day. First 5.9 pitch gets the blood moving and comes recomended. Enjoy!!! Aug 27, 2007
Matt Stamplis
Boston, MA
Matt Stamplis   Boston, MA
Another possible descent to get back to a camp at the Meadows or Platforms: we hiked down to Surprise Lake then walked around to the far side of the lake and followed its outlet down into Garnet Canyon. No raps or sketchy gullies: just 2 15-foot sections of mellow 3rd class at the beginning (which might be avoidable) then steep hiking down to the trail. This drops you off just a few minutes away from the Platforms. Aug 21, 2008
erik wellborn
manitou springs
erik wellborn   manitou springs
One of the best 5.9's anywhere. Steep and sustained. I liked it better than Irenes. Sep 27, 2011
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
Of all the routes we did in the Tetons, this one was the least impressive.
It basically amounts to a 3 pitch climb. After the 1st pitch, the remaining are short pitches broken up by ledges or slabs.
1) P1, glassy 5.9 crux at the bottom.
2) P2/3, 5.9-, short pitches run together.
3) P4-6, including "5.9+" crux option that felt like 5.8.

Indeed the top 'seldom done' wide pitch didn't look to add much quality, so we walked off the back and planned another day.

Nice outing, but does not live up to the hype. Jul 15, 2016
Safty Third
San Diego, CA
Safty Third   San Diego, CA
I think that's a little critical, Tony. It's a fun mellow outing for experienced parties. Soft 5.9, but 5.9.
We did Car2Car in 8 hours with route-finding the start, and mellow hiking in/out.
We linked 1-2 (5.9 direct), and 4-5 with a 70m. We skipped the wide pitch because it looked low-fifth.
Hiked out via Amphitheater/Surprise Lake. Very straight forward 6 minute 2nd class walk down to the lake on well traveled trail.
If you feel comfortable on the grade just take singles and a set of nuts. Route is pack friendly. Jul 23, 2017
Stan Pitcher
Stan Pitcher   SLC, UT
Please tell us what other routes you did Tony, I want to make sure to do them. I've done quite a few routes in the Tetons and I thought the climbing on this route was right up there with the best of them. The location might not be as Grand and the belays aren't the best though. We did the route in 7 pitches including a direct approach pitch. None of the pins shown in the Rossiter guide remain, just a few fixed nuts including one of ours now is the only sign of previous passage. Aug 15, 2018