Type: Snow, Alpine, Grade III
FA: Fryxell & Smith 1929
Page Views: 13,591 total · 90/month
Shared By: david goldstein on Jul 27, 2006 with updates from Max Mogren
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

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Description

Much more demanding as a cardio undertaking than as a technical one, this climb is a must do for the inspiring views it provides. The ascent probably does not merit four stars, but the abrupt view from the top does.

From the north end of the Lupine Meadows parking lot, take either of two trails (they quickly merge) which head towards Teewinot. The trail is quite smooth and well graded. Encounter the first of the 18 infamous switchbacks after about 1/2 an hour then follow these, mostly through steep, open meadows (no shade, lots of flowers in mid summer) for about a thousand feet of gain. My experience was that the SBs go faster if you count them. At about 9000' the trail hits a ridgeline along which are the only reasonable potential bivy sites (check w/ the rangers about the availability of water). Around 10500', just below two spires, The Idol and The Worshipper, you will likely encounter snow. Somewhere around this point it would be a good idea to get your bearings and study the configuration of the summit ridge -- routefinding is straightforward if you do this, but plenty of people get lost anyway. The general idea is that you want to aim for the tower immediately to the right of the central drainage/gully/chimney system the upper reaches of which in early to mid season will have snow to the skyline. Higher on the mountain the snowfield can be hidden from view so try and pick out a couple of distinctive features on the high on rock towers to maintain your bearing. From the 10,500' point, go right/north around the I & W -- we followed steps up easy snow (~30 degrees?) for about 300' gain; in the conditions we encountered it, crampons were not needed for this section, but an ice axe was nice to have. Once the snow ends, scramble for several hundred feet. I ascended to the south of the central gully and descended to the north. The trail, hard to find with snow, seemed to be on the north which was at any rate the easier way to go. Finding the easiest line involved a fair amount of zig-zagging. The crux was just below some red rap slings on the south side. The scrambling was less enjoyable than I expected due to the slopey and dirty nature of much of the rock. About 500' below the summit, follow easier (mostly class II) ground on the north side of the drainage to the top.

Your exertions should be amply rewarded by the summit views from Mt Moran down to Buck Mountain with a particularly compelling vista of the north side of the grand.

Protection

Helmet, ice axe, crampons, harness, 30m rope, small rack.  Routefinding and steep ice/snow can be the crux of this route.  It may be rated 4th class, but the Tetons are notoriously sandbagged.  Even the "easiest" rock route has a few slabby 5th class moves.  The snow/ice in the steep Narrows section is NOT easy and several falls from here have been fatal.

Photos

Andy Leach
Denver, CO
 
Andy Leach   Denver, CO
 
This is a big vert day and a fun scramble (I did it when there was no snow). You can find a bunch of photos of the route on my web site: leachfam.com/securearea/sub… Sep 12, 2006
Ned Rockwell  
 
Great climb leading to spectacular view! Be aware of exposure, difficulty, and lots of loose rock when deciding on what protection to have with you.
About twenty-eight years ago a good friend and seasoned climber described this route to me as a spectacular Class IV hike/climb. Indeed, Ortenburger and Jackson described it as a Class IV ("A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range, 3rd ed., p253.) Having now attempted it twice with non-climbers only to retreat where the Class IV abruptly stops (~500' above the top of the Idol) but finally summiting with my two climbing sons on the third attempt, I think it deserves mention that there no longer appears to be a Class IV route on the East face. Myself and others have spent hours looking. I would rate it a 5.3 due to the brief section at the crux. Four days after Teewinot, we were climbing with several Exxum guides who agreed that they rate it a 5.3. It does lead to the best view in the park! Feb 26, 2013
Peter Lenz
Salt Lake City
  5.3 Easy Snow
Peter Lenz   Salt Lake City
  5.3 Easy Snow
I have climbed this wonderful route 3 times, and believe that the nature and level of difficulty on this route depend greatly on how much snow is on the route, and whether or not the rock is dry.
The first time I climbed it, the central gully was mostly snow filled, and the difficulty consisted mainly of tricky transitions between snow to rock, and back to snow. The snow was steep, and in some places a self arrest would have been a dubious proposition. But, the dry conditions rock crux could be bypassed on snow.
On my 2nd and 3rd ascents, the route was mostly snow free and the rock crux was dry. I think that in these conditions the difficulty of the crux is clearly in the low 5th class realm, and a fall from this point (as mentioned by Ned,) would clearly be fatal. If the rock is wet on this section due to rain or meltwater, difficulties will substantially increase.
Richard Rossiter author of Teton Classics, calls the climb "class 4," but wisely recommends a rope and some gear for most people. My suggestion is this: if you have any doubt, bring a light rope, ice axe and helmet, and a few medium nuts and cams. Jul 23, 2013
Matt Schroer
Logan, Utah
  4th Easy Snow
Matt Schroer   Logan, Utah
  4th Easy Snow
Seriously epic summit.

To me, the ascent seemed to go at 4th class, while the down climbing felt 5.easy, if that makes any sense. As far as 4th class scrambles are concerned, this is a classic.

Oh, and 18 switchbacks? It was 30 by my count, and I was generous - I didn't consider the zig zags near the waterfall. Aug 6, 2013
It should probably be mentioned that there are two distinct variations to this route. One going to the left in the gully which is 4th class (perhaps 5.0). The other one goes to the right and is definitely a 5.3-5.4 with lots of loose rock.
I believe that's the reason for much different impressions about grading on this route.

Great climb overall. Aug 26, 2013
Andy Nelson
Fort Collins, Colorado
 
Andy Nelson   Fort Collins, Colorado
 
Climbed this in Oct 2015; snow free. Ascended mostly on the right and inside the gully - while utilizing some of the left side for the down climb. Definitely bring a helmet for any other parties above you. Summit is amazing and probably the only reason to climb such a thing. Although no spectacular feat - it took two relatively fit Colorado guys 7.5 hours C2C with no rope work, after a late night at Snake River Brewery. Oct 11, 2015
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
  4th Easy Snow
Ken Trout   Golden, CO
  4th Easy Snow
The initial snowfield at the Idol & Worshiper has seen several fatalities. Footwear for snow travel(running shoes could kill you) and an ice ax would be a good thing. Falling on this snowfield without an arrest will be fatal. I took a 30 m rope and a few nuts and cams--helped two other climbers(hikers) out of jams. If you get off route anywhere left of the drainage or much right of the drainage, right after the snow field you will be in 5.3-5.7 difficulty. The actual peak is a real peak. Standing on top is a thrill. Jul 22, 2016
blue ribbon
Indian Creek, UT
blue ribbon   Indian Creek, UT
Stuck a rope out in the E face snowfield on August 21st. If you find it call me for a $60 reward. 510 421 0752 Aug 25, 2017
Max Mogren
Alpine, WY
Max Mogren   Alpine, WY
FATALITY JUNE 2018 buckrail.com/climber-falls-…

DOUBLE FATALITY AUGUST 2015 jhnewsandguide.com/news/env…

FATALITY MAY 2014 nps.gov/grte/learn/news/new…

CLOSE CALL MAY 2011 wyomingpublicmedia.org/post…

FATALITY SEPTEMBER 2009 trib.com/news/state-and-reg…

Fourth class and easy snow, my @$$. Classic old school Teton sandbaggery, resulting in close calls and several deaths. Statistically, this has been the most deadly climb in the Tetons. At least four people have died on it over the course of the last few years. I've climbed it at least a dozen times: four ski descents and a bunch of summer runups. Skiing the steep Narrows when it is icy and runnelled is terrifying and technical with the possibility of a 1500' snow tumble followed by a fall from a 200' cliff. When snow free that section entails difficult routefinding and several trails that vary widely in difficulty and exposure. The easiest route up I've ever encountered has at least a couple of 5th class slab moves. I'd call it 5.5. Maybe there's an easier route, but if I haven't found it in 12 tries, you probably won't either.



jhnewsandguide.com/news/env… Jun 27, 2018
Lars Blend
  5.0 Mod. Snow
Lars Blend  
  5.0 Mod. Snow
Climbed Teewinot yesterday (7/25/18.) Approach trail was in good shape. We were generally headed for the East Face route ... Lots and lots of snow, definitely used our ice axes and could have probably used crampons. Our guide (Exum) cut steps with his axe on several occasions in very hard snow. Enjoyable class IV scrambling with a few 5.x moves to the summit. Our descent ended up being north of the snow and we encountered some very difficult descents, a few of which required anchors and technical work. Long day but amazing views from the summit. Word to the wise - routefinding here seemed very difficult at times, even for an experienced guide. The descent was strenuous and a single trekking pole helped a lot. We were roped up (short roped, body belays) for 40% of the ascent and 60% of the descent. Jul 26, 2018