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Caveat Emptor

5.10, Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III,  Avg: 3.8 from 33 votes
FA: various
Wyoming > Grand Teton NP > Death Canyon > Cathedral Buttress


The middle of this route contains several quality pitches, but I feel that it does not deserve its super-classic status because:

1. The approach pitch and exit pitches are nothing to write home about.
2. It doesn't go near the top of even Cathedral Buttress, let alone a summit.
3. It's currently rigged for rapping after the good climbing, making it less fitting for an area of fine summits and creating a potential for big clusterfucks as descending parties collide with ascenders
4. IMMO, at least, cragging in this area of estimable summits is like sport climbing in Yosemite -- it may be enjoyable but it's probably not what you came for and you might later regret not having done something more mega.

After doing this route relying exclusively on Rossiter's description, we concluded we would have been better off with Ortenburger's. We found a wide variation of difficulty among the hard pitches though both guides give all of them about the same rating.

The route:

P1: A long pitch. Up slab a few feet, traverse right about 15', up an easy left-leaning, left-facing corner (~5.5) for about 20', then angle up 4th class slabs to a slippery, hard to protect step (~5.5) and a small tree. Traverse left about 20' into an alcove/chimney. Belay a few feet up the chimney, about 5' below a fixed pin in pegmatite. 5.5, 200'.

P2. Clipped the FP, clip a fixed blue Alien (or replace it if it's gone), awkwardly hand traverse right (10-) for about 5', then step up. Try to place a piece at the end of the HT as there is no more pro for a while. Face climb straight up on protectionless rock (~5.7, unprotected, ledge fall potential) for about 15' until you can get a couple of good pieces in a horizontal. Harder, crimpy face climbing (~5.9) about this leads to a long, right-leaning, right-facing corner. Follow the corner for a while until heading right across slabby face, aiming for a ledge by a pillar with a rap anchor A spicey, engaging pitch. 10-, ~130'.

P3: Up a nice crack which widens from fingers to hands for about 50' until the crack ends at a roof. Traverse right under the roof, then jam up and over (10-). Continue up more easily for ~50' until a small ledge with a couple of fixed pins. Try not use your wider pieces at the beginning of this pitch as they are needed for the section of the crack below the roof and in the roof itself. It would also be nice, but not essential to have a #3 Camalot sized piece at the belay. The best pitch of the climb. 10-, 100'.

4. Up slab (~5.7) for about 30' to ledge under a roof, trav R around roof (easy), then up easy R facing corner (1 tricky move) for ~ 40' to alcove at base of crack which leans L then doglegs R. 5.9-, ~100'

5. Up crack to dogleg (easy) then work right in awkward handcrack with crux pulling roof (5.10), then up for a long ways on easy ground to a good ledge with a four piece equalized rap anchor. 5.10, ~100'.

6. Trav L about 10' (easy, no pro) then diagonal up R to 2 # 2 Friend placements and a fixed nut. Face climb up and R from nut (5.10) to vertical crack w/ perfect 1.5 Friend placement and a scary clip. Straight up on easier ground about 20' to a bulge w/ minimal pro. (Easier to get around bulge by trav R ~8', up 10' then back L (ropedrag potential) into corner crack system.) Get good gear to left of corner (yellow or red Alien, FP) then up 5.8 with no pro. Continue up corner crack until ledge with rap anchor 10' above it. 5.10, ~120'.

If your only concern is quality climbing and not "finishing the route", and there are no parties below you on The Snaz, you should be able to rap from here with double ropes. Note: We did not rap. We were told, and it seemed a logical assumption, that a complete set of rap stations exist, but some of the rap stations would be on The Snaz and we did not personally observe them.

If you chose to keep going:

P7: Up corner mostly easy w/ one hardish move to big ledge with tree. 5.7 ~150'

From here, keep angling left and up for a few hundred feet of progressively easier climbing. At some point you may wish to unrope. Eventually you'll encounter a large ledge system with many big trees below the upper Cathedral Buttress headwall. Once on this ledge, head left (west) and down, eventually encountering a rough climber's trail which takes you back to the Death Canyon trail in about a half an hour. The descent trail would be straightforward to follow in the dark, but finding it allegedly is not.


The start is the same as the Snaz. The easy-to-follow climber's trail takes you right there.


We took a broad range of gear, from RPs to #4 Camalot. Didn't place the RPs, didn't need the #4, didn't place a cam smaller than a green Alien (though the start of P2 was protected by a fixed blue Alien.) We had double of cams from thin fingers to #3 Camalot which was excessive in the smaller sizes and barely adequate in the larger. Next time I'd thin out some of the smaller stuff and probably replace the #4 Camalot with another hand sized piece.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Joe Terravecchia on 3rd pitch. 1994
[Hide Photo] Joe Terravecchia on 3rd pitch. 1994
Pitch 3
[Hide Photo] Pitch 3
The start of P3.
[Hide Photo] The start of P3.
P6. W/out MP beta, the leader sacks up and wonders if this is really where it goes.
[Hide Photo] P6. W/out MP beta, the leader sacks up and wonders if this is really where it goes.
Rob Springer towards the end of P2.
[Hide Photo] Rob Springer towards the end of P2.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Nick Stayner
Wymont Kingdom
[Hide Comment] A brief response to your reasons why Caveat is decidedly NOT uber-classic. I understand your point of view, written as a visiting climber interested in summits. However, when you live here, Death Canyon is pretty much as close to trad cragging as we get! So I'd say it deserves a Teton 4 stars, for what it's worth. Caveat is also the benchmark 5.10 for the Park. Jul 23, 2006
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] I got rained off after pitch 3 or 4, but it sounds like I did the best part. I thought this route was similar in quality to the Snaz, but more difficult. Classic! Oct 19, 2006
[Hide Comment] Caveat offers steep and sustained crack climbing with mind sucking exposure. If the Snaz can be rated 5.10- then the pitches on Caveat should inspire a more logical overall rating of 5.10c. P3 when climbed to its apex, a comfortable ledge below a steep band of dark rock, avoids the unpleasant stance belay, yet requires good use of runners at the roof and a larger rack 150'. The crack above the roof eats up gear in the 3"-2" range and a few small pieces can also be found if the big stuff is gone though not many. P5 the infamous overhanging crack has deterred many a Teton climber with it's steep and strenuous jams, if you succeed, stay on your game because you will find another crux on this pitch. Combing other pitches on nearby routes of the snaz, sunshine daydream {not equiped for rappel}, and the snazett, can combine for big vertical. This area can get busy so consider other climbers when making rappels. May 14, 2007
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Probably the best pure crack climbing in the Tetons.

If The Snaz is 10a, and Aerial Boundaries is 10b, then I'd call the crux pitch on Caveats 10c'ish.

My partner and I brought the following gear, and thought it worked out perfectly. This is definitely a conservative rack, but there are long stretches of big-hands, and we appreciated having the extra hand/big-hand pieces. We went all the way to the alcove on P3, making for a LONG pitch in the 2-4" sizes. Additionally, the anchor at the base of this pitch requires hand-size gear.

  • One set of thin cams through red alien
  • Double BDs #0.5 and #0.75
  • Triple BDs #1 and #2
  • Double BD# #3
  • BD #3.5
  • BD #4
  • One set of nuts, including thin
  • A couple larger hexes (convenient for the anchors)

We placed the #4 and #3.5 camalot at least twice each, so I definitely wouldn't leave those behind next time.

We didn't climb the final pitch (though we intend to go back)... but I suspect that wouldn't change the gear requirements at all.

Rappel descent via the Snaz:

(We didn't climb the last pitch, but apparently it is a straightforward double-rope rap to the fixed anchor above the crux pitch).

From the top of the crux overhanging hand crack pitch, we were able to rappel (angling to the Snaz) in 3 rappels with twin 70ms. With 60m ropes it would be at least 4, and probably 5 rappels. The first anchor you hit on the Snaz is *very* hidden, and we only knew where it was from climbing that route previously. To find that anchor, rappel straight down to the ledge at the base of the overhanging hand crack pitch. Walk right about 40 feet on a sloping ledge to hit the Snaz, and then continue rappelling (awkwardly because of the angle) about 30-40 feet of the Snaz. The anchor is tucked into an alcove of dark rock. With 70m ropes, we skipped the next anchor on the Snaz and just barely made the next anchor (60ms would definitely NOT make it). We then rappelled to the ground. With 60m ropes I think you'd need to stop at a small tree about 40 feet above the ground (it has slings and rings). Jun 17, 2007
[Hide Comment] A sandbag at two cents. ---JN May 24, 2008
Adam D
Los Osos, CA
[Hide Comment] the Snaz is good, but I thought the climbing on Caveat was much more enjoyable. Even without a sweet summit it's still one of my favorites in the Tetons. As described here...p5 is definitely the toughest of the cruxes. Jan 31, 2009
[Hide Comment] Folks, this old habit of referring to Caveat Emptor as 10- and the Snaz as 10a has got to end- the Guide Book is WRONG. Caveat is 10b/c and the Snaz is 5.9 no ifs, ands or buts. Jun 3, 2012
Nick Stayner
Wymont Kingdom
[Hide Comment] Pretty funny that the guy calling Caveat 10a thinks the crux is the crack pitch.... wonder if he lead any of the pitches when he did it. I think Donini's spot on FWIW. Sep 12, 2012
Max Bechdel
Jackson, WY
[Hide Comment] Who starts a route description with all the reasons why it shouldn't be a classic. Leave that shit for the comments.

All trolling aside, great fucking route and it does deserve classic status! Bring double/triples of 2-3" or be ready to run out some moderate jammmmin!

PS - 10c Oct 28, 2014
[Hide Comment] Thanks Jim Beyer Oct 30, 2015
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Best route of those we did in the Tetons, better than Snaz (way better) or Sunshine Daydream, not to mention Open Book...
Each pitch, strung together a bit, is 5.10 and high quality. Jul 15, 2016