Type: Trad, Alpine, 800 ft, 6 pitches
FA: September 1st, 1936 Jack Durrance and Kenneth Henderson
Page Views: 78,988 total · 517/month
Shared By: Steven Lucarelli on Jul 5, 2006 with updates from Gee Dubble
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

255 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


The Lower Exum Ridge is a classic route on the southeast side of the Grand Teton. All of the pitches are good but the 5th pitch is by far the best being that it's steep, exposed and still only 5.7.

P1: A large chimney with some chockstones in it. Squeeze through a hole under the chockstones about halfway up and then climb out of the chimney on the right shortly after that and up to a large ledge.  Or start in the chimney for 10 feet, then move right and climb the face, which is a better option assuming you have a pack.  Either way is 5.6 with good pro.

P2: Climb easy terrain up and left following some cracks to another nice ledge. 5.5.

P3: Move the belay to the base of a nice hand crack. Climb the crack up and left then traverse back right where the rock has large black section, and pull up onto lower angle rock.  5.7.

P4: Climb up past a large chockstone (I climbed around it on the outside) and to a broken up ledge at the base of the steep 5th pitch. (Pitches 3 and 4 can be combined barely with a 50m rope). 5.7.

P5: The Black Face.  Climb up and right from the ledge and follow a crack with a few pins in it. Belay at a pin and fixed cam.  Steep and awesome 5.7.

P6: Climb straight up an awkward crack on smooth rock and then head right on easier terrain but with minimal gear.  5.7.  Belay on Wall Street ledge. (An easier option is to go left from the belay which also ends up on Wall Street)

Combining the Lower and Upper Exum Ridge to the summit is a great way to climb the Grand.


Finding the route can be a little tricky if you've never been up there before. From the Lower Saddle head north toward the Grand but instead of going up the ridge traverse down along the east side of the saddle. Continue scrambling east and keep an eye out for a black band of rock that runs east to west and is where the route starts from.  Follow the bottom of the black band over a small saddle that is neatly divided into two colored rock sections.  Descent slightly, then ~30 past the low point of the black band, look for a 4th class ramp that goes BACK TO THE LEFT (south).  Follow that ramp several hundred feet to the base of the first pitch.

The first pitch is a large chimney (or face to the right of the chimney, recommended) which is visible from the saddle and requires some scrambling or easy climbing to get to.

Descend the Owen Spalding route to the Upper Saddle and don't drop down the first gully that leads southeast. Instead go farther west and look for some climbers trails that work their way down to the Lower Saddle


I used a small selection of cams from a green Alien to a #3 Camalot and about 10 nuts of various sizes and felt that was adequate. There are several pins on pitch five and a few rap anchors on the route in different locations.


Fairly Large formation between Pinpoint Pinnacle and Loeber's Leap


George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
The start can be difficult to locate, especially in the pre-dawn hours. The easiest approach is to go beyond (right of) the starting pitch, easy talus walking on the black dyke. At some point there is a small cairn marking a traverse back left on a generally wide but sometimes exposed ledge. It deposits you right at the base of the first pitch "chimney". Describing P1 as a chimney is a little confusing, as it is more like a gigantic, featured open book. Very visible from the Lower Saddle in the evening if you know where to look.

See my trip report at gibell.net/trip_reports/tet… Jul 5, 2006
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
A classic line on a classic peak.

The approach from the lower saddle to the base of the approach ramp took about 30 minutes. It begins about 10 minutes up the Owen-Spaulding trail from the lower saddle, and heads east eventually hitting the black dyke. If you get to the Petzold ridge you've gone too far. In the morning darkness, we accidentally scrambled up the wrong ramp and ended up on top of the first pitch. Our ramp was consistently 4th class. Apparently another ramp begins slightly further west, but we missed it in the darkness.

All the pitches on the Lower Exum are awesome. The black face is particularly memorable - steep, positive holds, and great gear. We linked pitches 3 and 4 listed above.

We left the Lower Saddle at 4:00am, and we're at the top of Wall Street at 8:15am. We were moving efficiently, but not speed climbing by any means.

There was no sun until we hit Wall Street and the base of the Upper Exum ridge. And with a breeze, it was a little chilly even on a hot summer day. So plan on cold conditions if you are climbing this in early or late summer.

For the Upper Exum, we just did a continuous running belay. We hit the top at 10:15am.

Gear: Nuts, including small ones. Set of finger size cams. Doubles 0.75-2" camalots. One #3 camalot. And a big hex. 14 long runners (and that was just enough).
Jul 21, 2007
Robert Henderson
Wilson, WY
Robert Henderson   Wilson, WY
There are many options on this route. If the p1 chimney is too cold for the fingers, walk right around the corner and climb a 5.6 face that gets some morning sun. Also the face just right of the chimney is hard-to-protect 5.8. The Black Face, p5, has at least 2 crack lines about 8-10 feet apart. The right one is the traditional one but the left one goes, too. At the end of the pitch, instead of belaying in the alcove, one can traverse left to the edge of an arete and a dynamite belay stance. From there, a steep slab/crack with a little more RO than some would like leads back right to the main crack. It's a very scenic and less claustrophobic variation. Apr 19, 2009
Jeff Mekolites
Jeff Mekolites   ATL GA
Super classic route and awesome climbing. For a very memorable pitch, link the black face and next pitch with one 70 m monster alpine pitch. Awesome. The holds, the climbing, the history, the gear - all make this an amazing pitch of rock climbing! Aug 20, 2012
Ray Pinpillage
West Egg
Ray Pinpillage   West Egg
If you're using a 70m rope to rap on the decent then you can combine P5 and P6 and belay from Wallstreet. We linked P3/P4 and P5/P6. Sep 11, 2012
This route is the Durance Direct. Nothing lower or Exum about it.... Aug 7, 2016
It goes without saying but I will - this route is amazing; the geology of the rock isn't like anything I've seen- wild, spike like features and pitches that look like a jewelry store; it's really clean with very smooth granite. We went heavy on the rack, doubles .3-1, single 2, folded a 70m in half and simuled the lower Exum in two pitches in about 2 hours including being stuck behind a couple slow parties that were nice enough to let us pass. We unroped for the upper. For descent we skipped the first rap by down climbing a small bit that is skiers right about 20-30' from station then did the lower rap with a 60m, a group was nice enough to let us rap their rope. There wasn't any snow on route. The pictures on Supertopo and the incredible info on http://wyomingwhiskey.blogspot.com/ should get you to the route pretty easily. Aug 6, 2017
William Thiry
Las Vegas
William Thiry   Las Vegas
"This route is the Durance Direct. Nothing lower or Exum about it.... "

Perhaps. Glenn Exun climbed the upper part of this ridge in 1931, hence the ridge being named the Exum Ridge. Jack Durrance and partners came along in 1936 & 1938 to develop this fine route, which was the unclimbed lower half of the Exum. Jul 31, 2018
Mike Wilkinson
Lexington, KY
Mike Wilkinson   Lexington, KY
Hard to find in the dark, as others have said. Scrambled up and left too early on 5th class and luckily found an old fixed cam that facilitated a rap to get down from obviously the wrong spot. Found a cairn further north east up the trail which marked the turn back to find the correct ramp. Pitches were quality! Of note was the black face pitch– felt considerably harder than 5.7 - I stayed left up to a thin, standing needle of rock, then went up and right to a flake. Moved back left on better holds before making a tough traverse to a crack just below a belay ledge.

Totally missed wall street but with good weather we continued and did the upper exum. Took 7 hours to tag the summit from camping in the moraines, 2 hours to get back to the lower saddle, even without having ever been on the OS. Aug 15, 2018
Jen Wiebracht
Lakewood, CO
Jen Wiebracht   Lakewood, CO
Wow, what a great route! My partner and I completed the Lower and Upper, here is our trip report: wp.me/p8nymg-dW. Aug 16, 2018
Daniel Telenko  
Such a killer route! The landscape is unbelievable, such quality rock, and a really fun route. I think one thing that people take for granted about this climb is the approach. The hike in is enjoyable, but with all that gear is very draining. We camped at the moraines to be a little closer, but you sacrifice the day before in order to carry the extra gear that far. I would recommend that, or the caves though. Going to the lower saddle to camp is not worth it in my opinion.

The first pitch is a 5.6 chimney thing. I had a water bladder in my pack and when I squeezed through the choke stone it started leaking. Defiantly need to daisy chain your pack for some portions of this climb. Pitch 2 is chill 5.6 flake/crack. Pretty straight forward. After that is the money pitches. We did 3+4 in one single pitch (we had a 70m). Up the fun hand crack, and then to the right, kinda awkward traverse under the black roof. Protects pretty good and up into the chimney(s) on pitch 4. Pitch 3+ and 4 chimneys were the most difficult to me, in sheer physicality. Pitch 5 was super enjoyable. Amazing views and steep rock. Great alpine setting, really intimidating if the wind is really going (keep your head on straight!). If you are a decent face climber, this will be easy for you. Great placement everywhere and positive holds. Pitch 6 we went left and caught up with wall street that way. We combined this with the Upper Exum, which took us an additional 3+ hours, even simu-climbing. Highly highly recommend!

P.S. We did this on July 23, 2018 and the weather was perfect. We had a little snow to deal with at the summit block (crossing over ford couloir) but was not bad at all. Did not need crampons for any part of the climb or descent. Aug 22, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
We never found the start of the route in the dark, going too far right by one ramp (we think). Everyone said to keep going right towards the base of Petzdolt Ridge, including a climbing ranger, but I guess we went too far. We kept scrambling up 4th class, looking for the first pitch chimney, but we eventually found ourselves climbing by steeper terrain, chalked up holds, and pitons, all still in our running shoes and packs on! We popped out on a nice ledge and figure out we were at the start of 3rd pitch and had just soloed the 2nd pitch, so we roped up there. Good to know there's a 4th class bypass of the 1st pitch if you ever want to skip some parties in line. Stayed right on the Black Face pitch, following pitons and fixed gear. The rest of the climb went pretty fast, great variety and fun and found ourselves at the base of Upper Exum about 3 hours after starting up from the Black Dyke. Put away the rope here and soloed Upper Exum, which is really easy for a 5.5 with minimal exposure except on the two 5th class sections. Sep 13, 2018