Type: Trad, Alpine, 1560 ft, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Owen, Spalding, Peterson (Aug 11, 1898)
Page Views: 119,903 total · 756/month
Shared By: Jason Wine on Apr 10, 2006
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

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From the upper saddle (13,160'), rope up and belay from a large boulder near the north face. Continue around towards the north face to reach the "belly crawl", an obvious and well named feature. It is a ledge not more than 18" wide with an overhang above. The exposure here is very exciting. Continue traversing around the ledge about 15' to the double chimney (P1), the technical crux of the climb, about 5.4.

Directly above this is the Owen Chimney (P2) which angles up to the right. The route from here goes north east to a third, very large chimney called Sargent's Chimney (P3). From the top of Sarg's, continue up and to the left. Pay careful attention to your assent path from Sarg's, you will need to find it on the down climb and it isn't obvious!

For the descent, downclimb Sarg's Chimney and then make your way to the left to a 120' rappel that drops you directly onto the upper saddle.

The route finding can be difficult, particularly on descent given the whole mountain shows signs of traffic. There are many variations to the route depending on conditions.

Buy the guidebook: "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range" by Ortenburger & Jackson. It is perhaps the greatest guidebook ever written.


Getting up to the upper saddle from the lower saddle is a climb all unto itself. The guidebook provides an excellent description.


A small alpine rack is fine provided you are familiar with using natural features for belays and 5.4 climbing is easy for you.


I did this without roping up a number of years back. I was in a Colorado 14er mode and thought I would skip the hassle. Not smart.

The climb is quite easy but there is a stretch just after the "belly roll" with a 5.4 move and about 2000 feet of exposure. I believe you would land somewhere near the bottom of the Black Ice Couloir if you goofed up.

You need a rope anyway because you have to rap down - or down climb the exposed 5.4 move, which you wouldn't want to do.

So take a light rack and enjoy yourself. Beautiful climb! May 18, 2006
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
When dry, this route is not difficult although you can still get off-route. However, it faces NW and after a snow or hail storm it can take many days (if not weeks) to dry off. There was one summer when it kept getting snowed on, and the route was in "winter condition" all summer! The guides had a really bad season that summer. Even on a good year by September it usually receives a dusting of snow.

From above this route is difficult to find and it appears improbable. I've downclimbed it once unroped when dry, but this was with a person who had gone up it the week before. This is a quick way to bypass the crowded raps, but I wouldn't recommend it. Jul 5, 2006
To add a little spice to this route, try the Wittich Crack variation (5.6). It is the obvious crack that starts about 10 feet before reaching the belly crawl. P1, follow the crack to an obvious ledge under a roof. P2, climb past two fixed pins out and around the roof to the left and up easy climbing to the catwalk. Stay as straight as possible to avoid heinous rope drag. Awesome route and a lot of fun. Aug 1, 2008
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett   Michigan
On the descent, it is possible to make the main rappel (the one that avoids the "Belly Roll" and "Double Chimney") in a single rappel with a single 60m rope. This is from the well used slung-horn anchor.

Just make sure to trend to rappeler's right as you descend, and you'll land on walking terrain a few feet right and uphill from where most folks (with 2 ropes or a single 70m) will land. It's probably a 95' rap.

-Scott Jul 26, 2010
Rich F.
Colorado Springs, CO
Rich F.   Colorado Springs, CO
Great summit -- not much technical climbing, but a strenuous adventure with some amazing exposure and a lot of Class 3 & 4 climbing above the "Needle." We left our rope at the Sargent's Chimney rappel on the way up -- but still had surprising amount of somewhat exposed Class 4 climbing left to get to the summit. And I want to reiterate what Jason said in his route description above, "Pay careful attention to your assent path from Sarg's, you will need to find it on the down climb and it isn't obvious!" True, True, True! Jul 31, 2010
While it's not for the faint of heart, the Grand is fine free-solo climb for many individuals, even for those who aren't avid climbers. It's common to see folks doing the round trip in one day when the weather & route conditions are good. You really just need to be a strong hiker, not afraid of exposure, and have some athletic ability.

You don't need to use the rap to get back down unless the conditions demand it. This isn't a risk-free climb, but it's certainly not as difficult as some would have you believe.

Route finding can be difficult for those who go up the Upper Exum and then come down the Owen-Spalding if they haven't done it before. Usually you can follow the crowds, but not always. Route finding has become much easier with online resources Site for Free-soloing Climbers Jun 19, 2011
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
Tons of beta pictures at this link

wyomingwhiskey.org/2013/01/… Jul 14, 2013
Mark Orsag
Omaha, NE
Mark Orsag   Omaha, NE
You can go left at several points -- The Crack of Doom, etc.. Probably raises the rating to 5.6, but it was still faster and pretty easy. Helped us get to the front of the "long snake" of ascending climbers. Feb 21, 2014
Max Bechdel
Jackson, WY
Max Bechdel   Jackson, WY
I like the description, buy the guidebook. Isn't mountain project supposed to be the guide book? :P Apr 24, 2014
Laurens, SC
mattjohnson   Laurens, SC
the approach is tough Aug 9, 2015
Benjamin Chapman
Small Town, USA
Benjamin Chapman   Small Town, USA
William "Billy" O. Owen, Franklin Spencer Spaulding, Frank Peterson, and John Shive - August 11, 1898. Dec 22, 2015
Austin Farnworth
mapleton utah
  Easy 5th R
Austin Farnworth   mapleton utah
  Easy 5th R
I think that bringing a rope to rappel down with is a good idea. In good conditions it can be easily free soloed and people in our group who were not rock climbers by any means had no problem with the moves. If you were to down climb this route it would be a different story entirely and i would recommend the rappels. Aug 12, 2016
Jason Todd
Cody, WY
Jason Todd   Cody, WY
Benjamin Chapman wrote:William "Billy" O. Owen, Franklin Spencer Spaulding, Frank Peterson, and John Shive - August 11, 1898.
Second Ascent

Should be called the Langford-Stevenson Route if justice were to be had.
They had the first ascent, Spalding after corresponding with Langford had even agreed they had climbed the same route and were the first.

Nathaniel Langford and James Stevenson, July 29, 1872 FA Grand Teton, USA Aug 25, 2016
Every time I scramble up and down this route in summer, I think the O-S was first ascended by the 1st Nations. They built on the Enclosure, then they built on the Grand. They climbed before August 1898. Jul 24, 2017
Tim Kessel
Fort Collins
Tim Kessel   Fort Collins
Did the route in 3.5 hrs from lower saddle to lower saddle, just had on hiking shoes. Fantastic views, bomber rock on the exposed traverses, fantastic route! Jul 31, 2017
Jocelyn Bourque
North York
Jocelyn Bourque   North York
Hey does any know how long are the pitches ? Will a group of 3 be fine with one 70m rope ? Aug 28, 2017
How many miles is it from lower saddle to upper saddle? My friends and I are in good shape and plan to start at garnet canyon around 1 AM and summit/descent the entire thing in one day. Is this even possible?? May 23, 2018
There are lots of people that prefer to climb the Grand via OS in a day. Leaving the parking lot around 1am is probably a good time. It is a long hike but if you are athletic and in decent shape, it won't be too difficult. Mileage between Lower and Upper saddle is probably .5 miles, but that is less relevant than the vertical climb since it is a steep scramble for most of the 1400 ft. Consult the guide books because there are a few points that are tricky to stay on route and pass some obstacles such as the eye of the needle. Good luck. May 31, 2018
For a fit party, to solo Owen Spalding car to car would probably take 11 hours. It took me about 4:30 to descend. Starting at 1am would put you right in line to hit the bottleneck of guided parties. Aug 24, 2018