The Grand Teton in Five Tens or Rock Shoes?


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Trad climber
Liechtenstein now Vermont
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 17, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
This is my 'big' trip out West this year. Going to climb the grand - yehaa!
Any advise on what shoes to use? I am thinking it would be possible to climb it in Five Tens. I am shooting for the Exum Ridge.

Coming from low altitude (VT) it's all about saving weight on the approach for me. I'll be huffing and puffing. If you have advise on how to manage high altitude, gear, route finding etc. - I am all ears!


Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:19pm PT
I think maybe she meant the Five Tennie approach shoes.

Trad climber
Liechtenstein now Vermont
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 12:20pm PT
Ok - needs clarification:

Referring to Five Tens approach shoes...

Protect your feet while you get superior traction in any situation with the women's Guide Tennie Canvas from Five Ten that aids your scramble to the top with extremely grippy Stealth C4 tread soles.

The goal is to avoid having to bring climbing shoes in addition to hiking shoes

Jul 17, 2013 - 12:24pm PT
I assume you mean guide-tennies, or sticky rubber approach shoes. First take them out climbing on shorter, more technical climbs than the one you will be doing in the Tetons to see what their limits are, if the route is 5.8 & you have no problem climbing 5.9 in them then you will probably be fine. If you find yourself struggling in them though maybe it'll be worth the extra 1/2 pound in the bag for some rock shoes.

Oh, & bring a rope.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:43pm PT
You'll be fine in approach shoes
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:55pm PT
They don't offer a lot of support under the feet, so unless you have strong feet I would put some good quality insoles for the walk up and down, otherwise you will have really sore feet the next day.

That's what happened to me!
Delhi Dog

Good Question...
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:56pm PT'll be fine in approach shoes as the Jayman says.
have fun

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jul 17, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
For the Owen-Spalding or Upper Exum, approach shoes are plenty. (I say this knowing that you climb 5.11 or harder from Nick's photos, might be a different story for a 5.6 guy).

Biggest advice for the Exum: Get up early. Very popular, and can be filled up with slow n00bs. Go way early or be ready to pass multiple parties.

Trad climber
Liechtenstein now Vermont
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
Ha ha - I see - no hiding in this crowd ;-)

Trad climber
Liechtenstein now Vermont
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 01:06pm PT
Hoping to see fewer crowds. Have a permit for Sept. 8 and 9, weather depending and planning on a 4am start.

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Jul 17, 2013 - 01:46pm PT

Yes, September can be cold...occasionally the first winter storm will dump snow early in September. But in recent years conditions have been fairly moderate.

A camp on the moraine will have less wind...although a camp on the saddle has a nicer view. Rockfall from the Stettner Couloir has been bad the last few years but it's on the wane. Camping on the eastern part of the moraine will lessen the rockfall danger.
The upper Exum will go with approach shoes, climbing shoes or mountaineering boots. So will the the lower Exum.

Prepare for the cold, of course. Many climbers attempt the Grand without adequate insulation and wind gear. I've attempted one day ascents with nothing more a sweater and been forced to retreat.

The Exum gets significantly less traffic in September which is a plus.

Moisture laden clouds blowing across the peak can leave an icy glaze on the rock in late season. But the sun burns off ice on the Exum fairly quickly. (usually)...Have fun...climb safely.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 17, 2013 - 02:12pm PT
The Exum guides recommend for an ascent of the Grand, "Approach shoes...These “sticky rubber approach shoes” are worn throughout the approach, summit climb and descent."

Glenn Exum wore whatever passed for tennis shoes in 1931 when he made the first ascent of the (upper) Exum Ridge. You can also wear hiking boots to the beginning of Wall street, comfortable rock shoes (with socks) on the route, and pick up your hiking boots on the way down.

If you have the bucks and intend to do a bunch of alpine rock climbs, especially if some will be much harder than the upper Exum, I think the Sportiva Ganda is the way to go. Properly fitted, it seems to me to be the ultimate Teton shoe.

If there is snow to be crossed early in the morning (probably not an issue after June), Katoola Microspikes or perhaps their KTS crampons will make a difference in security for little added weight. These items could conceivably also help if the Owen-Spaulding descent is iced.

Trad climber
Jul 17, 2013 - 02:37pm PT
Last August, I climbed the Upper Exum with 2 other guys, sans rope. We took a rope and harnesses for the rappel.

I was glad that I brought my TC Pros, as I thought the "friction pitch" was pretty slippery.
I would make sure that your comfortable climbing in the shoes you take along.

I had a small pack, since I was going car to car, and wore running shoes, changing into the TC Pro's at the end of Wall Street.

Edit: Isa, after realizing who you are from your TR's, I suggest you do it in a long day. I did it the day after leaving Boston, and really felt fine.
It was great leaving all the weight behind and going light. (I met 2 guys at the lower saddle, half my age, who I joined up with). We took a rope, but never used it, except for the rappel.
I hiked from the climbers ranch, leaving at 5AM, and was back by around 6 PM.

Obviously, if your planning on doing the complete Exum Ridge, using gear,
the equation changes dramatically. At least it would for me.

Jul 17, 2013 - 02:53pm PT
Are you by chance doing this with Karen?

Trad climber
Elk Creek, Idaho
Jul 17, 2013 - 03:24pm PT
The guiding concessioners likely recommend approach shoes on the Grand because the Owen Spalding descent has an abundance of sand and fine gravel.

Beginning climbers wearing smooth soles often slip on rock with a fine layer of sand while lug soles give them better purchase on dirty, sandy rock. More experienced climbers in smooth soles adapt their footwork to avoid slipping on dirty rock.

The friction pitch can seem intimidating especially in high winds. The puff n' grunt crack is a fair alternative...or the friction pitch bypass which isn't more than class 4 if snow-free...and there are other alternatives to the west.

But approach shoes like Guide Tennie and Ganda will work well on the F.P.

Jul 17, 2013 - 03:26pm PT
Good time to ask about Evolv Cruzer's, anybody climbed or approached in these?

Trad climber
Liechtenstein now Vermont
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 17, 2013 - 03:32pm PT
Thanks Jennie, rgold and steveA for your informative advice!

Steve - it sounds like you did the lower Ridge (where did you rappel - Wall Street?)?

I definitely will try to reach the summit - kind of a summit gal :-) - which means probably an overnight. How did you prepare for the altitude?


Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
Jul 17, 2013 - 04:15pm PT
Hi Lisa,

I've only climbed the Grand two other times.
Once with my son-The Owen Spaulding- car to car and The West Face via the Black Ice C. ( when there was ice,) back in 1971.

I always kind of get confused up there, since I forget details.

When I went up last summer, I told my wife that I was just going to go for a long hike. I privately hoped that I would get to the top, but was realistic, since a few years earlier, I tried to solo it, and was nearly being blown over with 70 MPH winds at the lower saddle.

Anyway, I met these 2 guys at the Lower Saddle, and they convinced me to join them in soloing the Upper Exum. They had already done it and were familiar with the route.

I just followed the younger guys, and had a blast. The technical stuff started where Wall St. ends. It was kind of fun passing other groups,
who were very friendly.

I couldn't believe how many people were on top, and the weather was perfect.
I must admit, I've got to hand it to Glen Exum soloing that route in the crappy shoes they had back then). Exum didn't have the advantage of chalk which I pulled out on the friction pitch.

As to your last question:

I made an effort to keep in hiking shape by hiking up either Mt. Washington or other similar hike, once a week, starting in the Spring.


Trad climber
Chapel Hill, NC
Jul 17, 2013 - 04:18pm PT
For MY climbing ability...I would be ok with the Upper Exum in approach shoes. I would not feel comfortable on the Lower Exum in approach shoes. I was happy to have real climbing shoes on the Lower.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jul 17, 2013 - 04:39pm PT
The rappel Steve is referring to is the standard rappel on the Owen-Spaulding route, from the Catwalk to the Upper Saddle.

I did the upper Exum unroped, continuing up from climbing the lower Exum. I was climbing in Robbins shoes at the time, which might be viewed as an early (and pre-sticky rubber) precursor of the Sportiva Ganda. I think any sticky rubber approach shoe would be fine for the friction pitch.

As for altitude, I think you want to do as much aerobic training as you can, involving as much in the way of hills as possible, at home. Given that, you still need a few days at altitude in order to adjust; the more days the better. If you can get to the Tetons early enough to do at the very least one long hike with good altitude gain, I think you'll be much more comfortable on the Grand. I like the North Fork of Cascade Canyon up to Lake Solitude. The hike up to Ampitheater Lake is good, a little shorter, and would familiarize you with the first part of the hike to the Lower Saddle from Lupine Meadows. Finally, the (unmaintained but pretty easy to follow) trail up Hanging Canyon to Lake of the Crags is shorter than the others but steep and with beautiful scenery.
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