Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, 3000 ft, Grade II
FA: P Petzoldt, G Exum, T Koven, G Koven, 1931
Page Views: 7,873 total · 55/month
Shared By: George Bell on Mar 19, 2007
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

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I always thought this was the easiest route on Mt. Owen, but was surprised just now to find that it is not. It is, however, the easiest route when approaching from the east. The only major technical difficulty is the summit block. You can begin this route either from Amphitheatre Lake or from the summit of Teewinot. I recommend the former and I have not done the latter.

For the standard approach from Amphithreatre Lake, descend a ramp west to the Teton Glacier Moraine (tricky if snow-covered). You now must cross the end of this glacier, which is melted out and/or covered with unstable scree. Ascend the obvious couloir to gain the saddle west of Teewinot. This is snow-filled in early season, otherwise it is filled with loose rock. Half-way up the couloir there is a waterfall, move left to avoid this steep section. Helmets recommended for this section, watch for climbers above you.

From the saddle head west up the east ridge, easy scrambling for the most part. Your next objective is to climb a cliff to gain access to Owen's upper snowfield, just below the summit block. The easiest option is to traverse right and climb a chimney. Now you need to make a long rising traverse left and up the upper snowfield to a point just south of the summit block. This snowfield ends in cliffs below you, so this section is deceptively dangerous. If it is melted off enough, it is usually safer to follow the rocks under the snowfield to a point where it can be climbed up directly. Practice your self-arrest before attempting this climb, or wait until it is all melted off.

The final difficulty is to climb the summit block via the big chimney on the south side, which reaches the summit ridge west of the summit. Climb this chimney, and then move north to the west side of the peak where the final few feet are climbed from the west (via another wide chimney). As I recall, the entire summit block can be climbed in a single pitch.


This route follows the east ridge of Mt. Owen, although the summit block is climbed from the south and west. The upper part of this route has incredible views of the North Face of the Grand Teton.


Small rock rack, plus ice axe and (usually) crampons, depending on the season.


Rappel or downclimb the final pitch, then continue down the route. Be very careful on the upper snowfield.


Robert Henderson
Wilson, WY
Robert Henderson   Wilson, WY
I don't want to offend anyone but there seems to be a lot of poor advice in this Mt Owen section. Take it from someone who lives here, the traverse from Teewinot is not a good option for most people. It involves a 5400' ascent of Teewinot, tricky route finding on a long loose ridge, ascent of 2 peaklets one of which even has a name (East Prong,) a couple of rappels, steep snow/ice patches and takes hours longer than the Koven Couloir (unless your name is Rollo.) Using the traverse as a descent route would border on insanity as you can easily rappel the slabs/ledges just to the west of the Koven.

The Koven Couloir is pretty straight-forward when there is sufficient snow (early season.) Crossing the Teton glacier is not a problem if you stay left around the moraine (hug the N Face of Disappointment) to the toe of the East Ridge of the Grand. From there, it's easy to ascend the moraine and cross to the Koven.

In late season, it's better to climb slabs/ledges just left of the Koven and avoid the nasty rockfall danger of the very loose couloir (the worst danger is low in the gully.) Mid-season, you will likely start on the ledges and then move onto the snow in the shadowed upper part of the couloir. It's possible to climb without ever getting into the couloir. It's also wise to rappel the ledges on the descent; there are numerous rap slings. IF YOU KNOW HOW TO AVOID KICKING ROCKS DOWN, the couloir is a viable option anytime; I've done this whole route in approach shoes in Sept but it requires careful, delicate moves. If it's late season and there is a party above you, I would highly recommend you climb the slabs/ledges as an approach. They are 4th to low 5th class with careful route finding. It could save your skull!! But honestly, this is best as an early season climb (to mid-July.)

Ultimately, despite the low technical rating, this is a much more serious alpine adventure than the OS or the Upper Exum, for example. That's why it was the last major Teton summit to be climbed. Apr 21, 2009
George Bell
Boulder, CO
  5.4 Easy Snow
George Bell   Boulder, CO
  5.4 Easy Snow
Thanks for the info, Robert. I've changed my route description a bit. It seemed such an obvious way to go from Teewinot, but I have no experience with it and it sounds tricky. May 21, 2009
Charles McCash
Boulder, CO
Charles McCash   Boulder, CO
Wanted to add another viewpoint on Koven. Having just attempted the route this past weekend, I would strongly recommend NOT climbing it after the couloir is melted out. The rockfall was incredible, the climbing very bad, and the lower chimney was a full on waterfall, with large & loose rock. The face to the left of the couloir is an option, but you need to add to your rack to better protect; same with the face to the right of the lower chimney. Beautiful country as always, but when I go back to attempt this route again, it will be in Spring and with skis! Sep 18, 2012
Bozeman. MT
Mike-Mayhem   Bozeman. MT
I have only done this route in late season, so am not able to speak of the difficulties when snow is present. That being said, other than the snow at the beginning of the upper section we climbed it primarily on the ledges to the left. We encountered a fair amount of class 4 and 5 climbing on these ledges. I would heavily consider your climbing ability before attempting the Koven late season. I have climbed in the tetons a fair amount, and I think that the Koven (in late season conditions) is quite hard for being the easiest route up the mountain.

Also some beta: We decided to rappel the east ridge and then rappel off the south side of the ridge after about 3 raps. If you have a 70 meter rope, I recommend this option to avoid the upper snowfields (high consequence if you slip) or down climbing the ledges climbers left of the snowfield (exposed class 5). We rapped it with a 60 and came up a little short on the last rap, although a horn was easily used to rap the rope around to rappel the final little bit.

If you are a capable rock climber and want to climb Owen in late season......Just climb Serendipity Arete.... Sep 13, 2017