Type: Trad, Alpine, 750 ft, 7 pitches, Grade IV
FA: David Dornan & Herb Swedlund 1961
Page Views: 11,140 total · 82/month
Shared By: Ian Eastman on Oct 14, 2007
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

23 Opinions

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The south buttress of Moran is an amazing climb with pitch after picth of beautiful granite. SBR trends up a crack system working right up the wall. (5.8) First pitch leads off from a triangle shaped rock up a corner system, and up over a bulge onto a well sized ledge. (.9)Second pitch wanders through a right facing corner with good hand jams and jugs, and a liebacking leading into a ramp up and right to a belay below crux pitch. (.11a -smallest cams to 0"-.25") Work into corner past pitons, making insecure lieback moves around corner and up slab past another piton and up to/past optional belay, where you can either stop or continue on up through small roof to belay under even larger roof (last pitch is often broken into two). From belay work up towards roof breaking right to the beginning of great traverse. Taking advantage of gear you find on the way and watching for rope drag, traverse right along small wavy ledge systems for 70ft+/- and belay below hand crack on small block.
(.10a) Work up crack past piton, up and through V-shaped roof to large comfortable ledge. (.9+) Go right along ledge 30 Ft and head up broken rock to old bolts leading to top of climb and first rap anchor.


Approach: Stay low along the creek in Leigh Canyon until you can begin to identify the two large ledge systems on your right angling west on the bottom of the south buttress of Moran. Once directly below these ledge systems take a right and climb scree field until parallel with the bottom of Laughing Lion falls (good place to stash gear). Books talk of additional first pitch if you choose, for gaining second ledge. I personally think its best to just scramble up first ledge and through 4th class terrain to second ledge and locate the beginning of the route.
Descent: After reaching the top rap begins by heading right towards the top of Laughing Lion falls, next goes right again at the break col to large ledge where anchors are hidden from view on hard left, down again and find large steep gully system on right which finally funnels you and anything else you kick off down two or three more raps to large ledge where you began route. Last rap is on the far east end of ledge and brings you right back to where you stashed your chocolate chips and beer.


For crux 3rd pitch bring all the small stuff 0"-.25", and a solid mountain rack up to 3" will work for the rest, a few long runners and two ropes to get off. Most rap stations are bolts or something adequately slung.
Time: 8-12hrs
PS. Great bivy sites on creek in Leigh Canyon just below scree field, watch out for bears.
Sam Lightner, Jr.
Lander, WY
Sam Lightner, Jr.   Lander, WY
A few thoughts:

The crux felt like 11c to me, but it was wet. COnsidering this is normal, I'd go 11c. I didn't have any, but blue aliens or gray metolius would have worked great. THe scars are not deep.

The traverse pitch is amazing.

The bolts on the last pitch are there for mental support and its solid 5.10 slab. Be careful.

The top rap or two descends to the right. Don't get sucked into continually going towards the falls as the stations get worse and worse until the are balanced blocks on a dirt ledge and pins that can be removed by hand. I think at the bigger ledge, like tow from the top, go down and left... seems like thats where we went wrong. Jul 11, 2009
Mark SLC
Salt Lake City, UT
Mark SLC   Salt Lake City, UT
Rock quality and exposure is outstanding, as is the more remote feel and canoe in.

Crux pitch has lots of fixed pins that seemed solid. Straightforward french free for our party w/ smaller c3s or equivalent.

Agree w/ earlier post. Tough slab moves with old bolts.

As for descent, no bolted rap stations (that we found). In fact one was backed up with a yellow c3. Save some daylight for descent and watch your ends (obviously a good idea anyway to get early start for decent temps for last 5.10 slab w/ sunny exposure).

As for the rack you can leave the 4 at home. Doubles of everything up to #3 for us worked fine. Aug 27, 2009
I climbed this back in 2003, and taken as a whole experience, it still sticks in my mind as one the of the best routes I have ever climbed.

I don't remember all of the climb, but here are the standout's:

The crux is size dependent, my fat sausage fingers would need a hammer to get them in the crack, my wife thought it was perfect. Even with fat fingers, I didn't think it was too hard, solid 11a (going off of Yosemite standards)

The great traverse is one of the best pitches in the universe. Very exposed. In my opinion, the highlight of the climb.

Watch the ropes when pulling the raps. Especially the last 3 raps. You are rapping through blocky sections and the end can get caught very easily.

Climb quick, watch for afternoon thunderstorms.

The rock is great, the bolts are marginal, the climbing is fantastic. There are objective dangers (rock fall, catching ropes, thunderstorms, bears), and you are a ways out there. All the things that make a very memorable climb! Feb 13, 2010
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Wolfe   Salt Lake City, UT  
If you have a canoe it is by far the best way to approach. Even possible to do this in the dark. The climbing is best technical climbing I have done in the Tetons - perfect rock and nice sustained pitches. We went to the Summit but I would not recommend this as it adds about 30 pitches of easy but tedious free soloing 4th and easy 5th class rock, plus it turns a one day trip into an overnight trip even if you are fairly fast (due to the delays climbing the hard section of the route). Aug 7, 2010
Roy Leggett
Lyons, CO
  5.11+ R
Roy Leggett   Lyons, CO
  5.11+ R
Amazing route! I felt the crux was pretty solid 11/11+, but I have fat fingers and was barely getting half my fingernail in. The traversing pitches are mega 5 stars! Also, the slab at the end is full value. Hard slab climbing (felt 10+/11 to me) on old, rusted, half driven 1/4" star drives. I tried for a while to free it and ultimately decided the potential for a serious fall wasn't worth it (no shame here). I pulled on the bolts and that was even terrifying. They need to be replaced. Seriously great route though. Aug 12, 2012
One of my favorite routes in the Tetons. Outstanding rock and such a spectacular position in Leigh Canyon which is so wild and beautiful. The first time I climbed it was in the early 80's with a partner that I had just met. Weather was marginal but we started up anyway. The sky opened up after the 5.9 slab and (unaware of the rap route if it even existed then) had to lead many more pitches to the top of the buttress in a very cold driving rain to get to the descent down the gulley. Epic night. Oct 13, 2013
Landon McBrayer
Salt Lake City, UT
Landon McBrayer   Salt Lake City, UT
Doing this route is a great adventure - with the canoe in, the bushwhacking, the remote feel, etc. The route itself isn't all that great in terms of rock quality, great pitches, etc., but it's better than anything I've done in GTNP (that's not saying much, since the rock in GTNP isn't that great). That being said, some more specific comments:

1) The route description on MP.com is useless and, at places, straightforwardly wrong. Ignore it.

2) The first pitch is decent (nothing spectacular); the second pitch is a fantastic hand crack, but it's SUPER short. The crux third pitch is hard for the leader (11c by my lights), and there are plenty of shitty pins that can be backed up here and there with small gear. P4 is not that great, and take care to step around to the "blind right-facing corner" to make your belay at the start of the Great Traverse.

3) My favorite pitch of the route was P6 - the pitch before the final slab. It's a cool finger/hand crack, followed by some roof moves and a final and *really* exposed headwall crack system (5.7-ish).

4) The final slab is not that bad if you've done much slab climbing. It's only 4 closely-spaced bolts long. The bolts are old, sure, but the climbing is pretty easy and you'll never take a long fall if you come off.

5) We found the rappel to be pretty straightforward if done with 2 60-70m ropes. Three raps straight East toward the falls (all about 60m long and with decent anchors), followed by 3 full-length raps South toward the base of the second ramp. It's worthwhile to bring some webbing/cord to back up the old tat on some of the anchors. Jul 28, 2014
I think hugging the creek is bad beta, we tried it on both the way in and out, and after contending with weapons-grade shrubbery for a while, sought a better way.

My advice would be to hug the creek very briefly, then find the best game trail you can leading uphill and rightward through the most open terrain possible. The sooner you get onto the talus, the sooner you can find the same remarkably well-cairned path we did, and get to the base of the climb relatively pain-free. Sep 7, 2014
Adam Sultan
Adam Sultan   Seattle
Fun stuff. The final rappel has got to be one of the most interesting climbing arts and crafts projects I've ever seen. If anything this route should be climbed just to experience it.

P.S. I feel bad for the climber who hand drilled zinc-plated 3/8" bolts in granite for the rappels. A lot of time and hard work that's going to need a SS update in the near future. Sep 4, 2017
Ryan King
Casper, WY
Ryan King   Casper, WY
We had an awesome time on this route. The rock quality is amazing compared to what else I've been on in the Tetons. I would really recommend getting on it and also just hanging around camp for a few days out there. The camp sites are really nice and for being in a NP, pretty remote feeling. We set up camp at the upper site along the creek, and just getting there was the first crux. Even though we knew that the trail left the campsite 14b on the NW side, we couldn't locate it since the trail had grown in so much. If headed to the creek campsite, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND taking the time to find the trail; it will make the hike substantially easier. Don't follow the river, don't skirt high, just find the trail and stick to it. We only could find it on our way out, but it's pretty well marked after the first jungle section. We half-joked that a machete wouldn't be excessive.

It's possible to summit from this route. Just another 2-3 rope lengths would get you to the bowl, then just hours of pick-your-own adventure from there. You might as well... Sep 17, 2018
Tod Gunter
Hailey, ID
Tod Gunter   Hailey, ID
Echoing others on the tremendous location and exposure of this mountain route. In this day and age of all bolted belays and the ability to rap from anywhere that is found at many areas, it's important to remember that you are in the mountains. Part of the appeal is the adventure which includes the approach and descent and the mistakes made along the way.
Our most memorable mistake was mixing up the belay stations so that I ended the Great Traverse at a hanging belay made from a nest of tiny wires in the middle of the pitch. Spent a long time looking over that roof! 1 day ago