Trip Report
North Ridge of the Grand Teton (Italian Cracks Variation)(IV, 5.7) (Carryover Day 4)
Tuesday October 9, 2012 12:53am
The North Ridge of the Grand Teton seen from Mt Owen at sunrise.
The North Ridge of the Grand Teton seen from Mt Owen at sunrise.
Credit: PellucidWombat

September 4, 2012
(Carryover Day 4)

"The difficulty of this climb is largely determined by recent weather-influenced route conditions; ice will make the climbing much more difficult."
 Gam, Teton Rock Climbs


Final carryover day to get back to our camp at the Lower Saddle

Grand Teton North Ridge, in its exposed position high on the Grand Teton

"Even though pioneered over 60 years ago, the North Ridge of the Grand Teton remains today one of the great classic mountaineering routes in the range, a tribute to the vision and skill of the first -ascent party. At the time of its first ascent, this route was perhaps the most difficult climb in the country. This route, which averages over 63 for 1,200 feet, is better described as the intersection of two high-angle faces than as a ridge;

Even the climb up to the top of the Grandstand is not trivial. " - Ortenburger & Jackson, A Climber's Guide to the Tetons

Inspiring quotes like this one are what have kindled my interest and fascination of climbing the impressive and historic routes of the North Face and North Ridge of the Grand Teton. After gaining the Grandstand the day prior, and looking down the other possible approaches to it, I'd have to say that one thing that really sets the North Ridge apart is its isolation. One must work quite hard just to get to the start of this great route, and from there one is quite committed to finishing it.

Cold Start and the Lower Pitches

Sunrise over Mt Teewinot.

Another early day in the Tetons. Somehow even though we were camped a couple hundred feet lower at the Grandstand than the night prior on Mt. Owen, the last night felts significantly colder. Leaving our tent, we also noticed that it seemed significantly windier too. It was time to get moving!

Sunrise on the North Ridge, seen from camp.

I scoped out the 100' approach from our tent to the start of the route the day prior to make sure we took the best line there in the morning (thus far we've had a habit of starting out off route). We walked along the knife edge to a notch to rope up. Oddly there was a cache here of crampons and climbing boots . . .

Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!

Looking at the topo, pitch 1 had a flake that one must tunnel behind. It is very hard to pick out the flake directly as it blends into the wall, but the day before we figured we had it identified. Since I was worried about tunneling through with a large pack on, I tried a more direct, but probably more difficult line, that avoided the tunnel through. It was more like 5.6-5.7 rather than class 4. I climbed the short face section in the howling wind, then stopped beside the flake to get some feeling back into my hands. Looking to my right it appeared that the tunnel through is plenty large to go through with a pack. Oh well! At least my variation probably saved me a lot of rope drag.

Detached flake on P1 that I should have tunneled through. I wasn't sure if I would fit with my carryover pack, so I took a harder, direct line to bypass this, but it was pretty wide.

After a bit of moaning as the pain ebbed from my hands, I had gotten enough dexterity back to attack the next short headwall. I raced up before my hands could get too numb again. More 5.7 face climbing with a piton to start. After this the terrain eases and I could climb in gloves again. I went beyond the standard belay and halfway through the next pitch before stopping at a belay around the corner.

Leading past the detached flake on P1. Note the wind blowing the yellow rope. Despite the sunshine we were very cold! (by Steph Abegg)

Unfortunately, although the route looked dry from the notch, as I reached the "easier" terrain, I found most of it covered in snow!The easier terrain was much more slabby and shattered with few pro opportunities, so I had to go for a ways before I found a suitable anchor. I could tell this section and the next pitch would be trivial in normal conditions, but the cold and the surprising amount of snow cover made it much trickier and I moved as slowly here as on harder pitches.

P2 easy pitch gets less easy. The 5.8 P3 ascends the dark rock ahead.

I continued up P2, feeling more wary about what conditions would be like ahead. As I crested the chute into the alcove beneath the 5.8 pitch, I found most of the terrain covered in snow. As I climbed the last 20 ft up to the rock wall to make an anchor, the snow became more consolidated into ice. I couldn't even kick steps in it, and instead had to smear carefully and try to find little indentations and rocks sticking out to make it to the end. Not good!

Steph following the "easy" P2. Snow in the last bit of height had solidified into ice, making the climbing extra tricky. Did I mention I was in my climbing shoes? At least I was wearing socks!

Steph following up the "easy" P2. One tricky thing here is that the loose rocks still moved, and sometimes you were stepping on slippery slabs. (by Steph Abegg)

Change of Plans - To the Italian Cracks

"In bad or even slightly bad weather, this [Chockstone] pitch and the two above are serious endeavors indeed. The North Ridge is not a climb to be undertaken in bad conditions."
 Ortenburger & Jackson, A Climber's Guide to the Tetons

"This slab [P6] can be severely iced; conditions should be considered before attempting this route."
 Gam, Teton Rock Climbs

It was interesting to consider that two different guidebooks clearly spelled out that this route should not be climbed in icy conditions. Neither guidebook made similar warnings about other routes. Naturally this left me apprehensive about climbing on. Specifically, the pitch after the chimneys is a 5.7 friction slab that apparently ices up.

I belayed Steph up and told her my concerns. However, I happened to have brought along a topo and beta for the Italian Cracks Variation. It avoided the chimneys and slab pitch, so I thought maybe it would be doable in these conditions. Also, it was on the sunny and leeward side of the crest, so it would be much more bearable to climb. Steph agreed that this would be a good way to go.

I also voiced my wondering about us bailing, but Steph pointed out that considering how remote the top of the Grandstand is, the serious nature of reversing from the Grandstand might scarcely be less sketchy than pressing on. Plus then we would have to hike back up Garnet Canyon to retrieve our camp. Up and over the Grand would probably be the easiest and least sketchy way to go from here. We agreed to dismiss this option so long as it was reasonable to tentatively climb higher into the next pitches.

P3 escape to the Italian Cracks variation.

I carefully climbed the icy slabs left on a wide ledge and over the top to a low 5th class jam crack, taking care to place more pro here to protect Steph on the downclimb.

A steep downclimb on the P3 escape to the Italian Cracks variation, which was around the corner in sunlight, somewhat shielded by the fierce winds.

I continued traversing around the corner into sunlight and cleared a dry patch out of the now on the now sunny ledge at the base of the first real pitch of the Italian Cracks. I belayed Steph over and we took a bit of time in this more comfortable spot to eat and warm up.

Should camelback nozzles be freezing on a rock climb?

Cold at P4 start (by Steph Abegg)

Cold at P4 start (by Steph Abegg)

Steph getting warm at the P4 belay.

Above us, the next pitch was a wide 5.6 crack. One could continue straight up a 5.8 finger crack, or if you were just wanting to get up this thing like we were at the moment, you can traverse left on a ledge to a 5.6 corner that ends in a 5.7 roof.

P4, wide 5.6 section. (by Steph Abegg)

Leading the wide crack (5.6) of P4 on the Italian Cracks variation. (by Steph Abegg)

I led through this section quickly. I was still very cold, but my hand numbness seemed more manageable now that I was on sunny, dry rock and mostly shielded from the wind. Still, I was feeling pretty tired, so at the base of the next corner I stopped short to make an early belay. We might as well save our strength on this.

I stopped short for a rest and belay in the sunshine. Then continued up this very steep corner to finish P4 (our P5). (5.7 roof to finish).

This next pitch was very sustained at 5.5-5.6 with lots of quality stemming. There was a roof at the end, but it didn't feel that much harder to me than the rest of the pitch. I'd call it all 5.6+ to 5.7ish. According to the route info I had, I stopped and belayed just after in a little alcove, just beneath a larger cavern.

The MountainProject description said you could reach the Second Ledge in one long pitch of 5.7 face climbing from here (described as having intermittent cracks for pro), while the Ortenburger topo showed 2 pitches of face climbing, heading out right from the crack and then angling back left and heading straight up to the Second Ledge. So from the alcove I started climbing out right.

P5 belay (our P6), looking at the 5.7 face climbing crux. This had ice on it, and the intermittent cracks were pretty far apart. I traversed a lot to the right with ledge fall consequences looking for cracks for pro that were clear of ice.

There was a small ledge about 10-15' beneath me, and all of the 'intermittent' cracks I traversed too turned out to be grooves. I was on thin, knobby terrain with no pro in sight! Time to relax and watch my balance with my pack. I could see the easiest way through was to head straight up, and there were some cracks there for the first piece of pro, about 20-25' off the belay. However, the cracks were choked with ice now, and the best edges for crimping and edging had eyebrows of ice on them.

Uhh . . .

P5 icy face climbing (our P6). Where I could, I was ripping chunks off to clear handholds and footholds. Overall I adjusted my route to avoid the ice, making me go far off route to the right.

I traversed even farther to the right where I could get in a piece, then climbed up. Eventually the terrain forced me back to the main iced up bottleneck, but at least I was closer to pro, and I could climb into it better from the side than below. All of the best holds had ice on them, so I started grabbing some of the eyebrows of ice and began ripping them off the rock wall. I could get enough off to make a slightly better path through the crux, and as the terrain eased up and more of the rock had ice on it, went all out, ripping ice clear from holds and tossing it behind me to make a path up the face. When I later told Steph about doing this, she said she was getting pelted with ice, but thought it was from pieces naturally detaching from the face as the rock heated up. My bad!

Finally I started making headway until I reached a long, leaning wide crack. Here the rock steepened became even icier. I was running low on small gear and the crack was too wide for anything else. So I detoured again, climbing along the crack far to the right, and around a corner to a sloping ledge. Since there as a fixed anchor in this slab, I thought it was the slab pitch atop the Classic variation (it later turned out to be the next corner over). I had renewed appreciation for the line we had been taking as I was back in the shade and wind again and it sucked! I belayed Steph in and by the time she arrived I was starting to shiver uncontrollably.

Belay at rapp anchor above an icy slab. This was indicative that it was good to have not done the classic variation, as the Slab Pitch on that surely would have been iced over.

Icy cracks make it harder to find pro. (by Steph Abegg)

Our P7 heading above the icy slab.

I started off, moving quickly to bring Steph up ASAP to get her out of the cold and wind. Apart from a few more spots made tricky with ice, the pitch was pretty straightforward and soon I was onto snow-covered talus and slabs on a lower section of the Second Ledge.

Snowy Second Ledge.

I continued through this and switchbacked up to where the ledge became more slabby and snow-free for a more convenient recovery point.

Recovering on the Second Ledge

Second Ledge belay.

I belayed Steph up, and upon reaching me she was shivering pretty badly, but she was quite the trooper! Without missing a beat she continued up to a slightly better corner to recover and began unpacking her backpack. Out came the sleeping bag and the stove. As Steph warmed water to recover, I suggested that in light of the conditions and how cold she was, that perhaps we should take the early exit from the Second Ledge to the Upper Saddle to get our climb over with. Steph would have none of this, though.

"We've come this far up the climb and we can warm up here. I don't see any reason why we can't finish what we've started," she replied. Talk about a positive attitude!

Steph Brewing up on the second ledge.

Steph pre-hot drink.

Steph post-hot drink.

Drinking hot water on the Second Ledge. (by Steph Abegg)

Warmed up and recharged, we moved the belay around the corner to start the final pitches of the North Ridge.

Our brief P8 to move the belay around the corner on the Second Ledge.

Second Ledge escape across the Great Chimney to the Upper Saddle.

Finishing the North Ridge

The Ortenburger topo showed one pitch of face climbing and two more of 5.7 chimney climbing to finish the route. The Gam guide indicated to link the face pitch with the first chimney pitch.

Steph in the warmer (windless) belay. The wind blowing from the west actually made it colder in the sunshine! Fortunately the remaining pitches had us in chimneys, somewhat shielded from the wind.

The face climbing was pretty blocky, and there was no ice on it for a change. It felt much more easygoing and secure than the lower 5.7 face pitch on the Italian Cracks variation. I felt plenty fresh at the end to continue up the chimney. The climbing was finally getting back into Type I fun territory.

P9 face climbing to reach the double chimneys.

The first sect of chimneys were pretty interesting as they are double chimneys formed by a giant detached column of rock. Our beta indicated that the right chimney was easier, so I opted for that one. It was a fun and interesting pitch, and fortunately climbing with a pack didn't make it much more difficult.

Our P9 double chimneys. Apparently the right side is easier. I'd call it about 5.6.

Right side chimney. Whee!

Piton in the right chimney.

I surmounted a chockstone and made a belay in the sun. I was still in a low angle chimney, so I was even shielded from the wind. For once things were getting comfortable.

Ice at the chimney belay.

Hail turned to snow or ice.

Steph following the right chimney. (by Steph Abegg)

Steph following the right chimney. (by Steph Abegg)

Steph doing the ChiChoMaMa (Chimney Chockstone Mantel Maneuver).

Steph made it up to me in no time, and I casually remarked that that pitch was pretty fun and that perhaps we were through the tough and unpleasant parts of the climb. I spoke too soon as the last pitch had some nasty surprises for us.

Starting the final pitch (our P10). (by Steph Abegg)

More chimneys.

The evil squeeze, as the chimneys get icier. After 2 slips & retreats and a third attempt where I realized I would likely take a bad fall exiting the chimney onto a sloping, icy slab above, I had to ditch my pack here and haul it with Steph's help in the end.

The chimneys became more choked with ice again, and then I encountered a squeeze chimney. I could tell it would be a straightforwrad 5.6-5.7 chimney if I could face right-side in, but with a pack there was no way I was going to fit that way, so I climbed it facing straight it. I made decent progress with shoulder jams and standing up off of crossed legs, levered off the wall. There was a chockstone inside, but no other pro, and facing straight in I couldn't get in deep enough to reach the chockstone. Also, the chimney was lined in flaky, dead lichen.

I made it halfway up the chimney when the puffy jacket I was wearing tore open, shrinking my shoulder jams enough that I fell back down, shearing off lichen as it ground up the jacket. I took off the puffy to reattempt the chimney in my sturdier and grippier soft shell jacket. I made it about halfway up again and had trouble getting enough leverage with my crossed legs and I slipped down again. So I went up a third time, all out, as falling inside the chimney was a safe, slow-motion oozing anyways.

This time I made to the top, but there was no pro in sight. Waiting for me was a sloping slab covered in ice, and it would be very awkward to climb onto it. If I slipped, I would fly off the ledge and take a real fall this time onto the ledge below. Due to the awkwardness of the exit, I decided trailing the pack would be a bad idea as well. Regrettably, I downclimbed and left my pack clipped to my last piece of pro, hoping that I could make a belay atop the next chimney and haul the pack up once Steph reached it.

Our P10 icy squeeze chimney, lined with lots of loose, sharp, dead lichen.

This time, facing right side in, the chimney was pretty casual apart from the slippery lichen and ice. Also, this time I could climb in deep enough to place a cam in the chockstone at the top to protect the exit. I carefully exited onto the sloping icy slab and gingerly stepped across to the other side.

Icy & rusty chimney piton.

None of this terrain had much of any gear to make a decent hauling anchor, so I decided to just get the pitch over with and figure things out with my pack and Steph once she reached it. The remaining chimneys were straightforward and soon I was back out in the sunshine.

Our P10 icy piton across the sloped, icy slab.

Upper chimney on the last pitch of the North Ridge.

Looking down the upper chimney onto the icy slab exit and the rest of our P10.

Upper chimney on the last pitch of the North Ridge.

Looking down from the top of the North Ridge route!

I set up the belay such that I could see Steph as she reached my pack. Through the gusts of wind I shouted out what I was up to. From here on she would climb on one rope with her pack, while I hauled my pack on the other rope. She was dismayed at this arrangement as I couldn't haul her pack and this as a lot more work for her, but fortunately she was understanding enough of my predicament. I belayed Steph on guide mode as she climbed and assisted my pack up on the other line - it got stuck a lot on the many roofs formed by blocks in the chimneys.

More alpine pack hauling. Steph assisted on belay. (by Steph Abegg)

At last my pack was free, and more importantly, Steph was free! She stemmed up out of the icebox and into the sunshine, swinging leads above me to get to a spot where we could unrope.

Steph & Teton Bill escaping the icy chimneys.

To the Summit and Down

Final scramble to the summit, with occasional class 4 bits.

Blaaarg. (by Steph Abegg)

As the terrain still looked a little tough above and we were tired, continued on roped up with the idea that we would simul climb the rest of the way to the summit. I couldn't find a direct way to the summit as the final 10 ft seemed to be a rather steep bouldering problem with bad fall potential. I investigated around the south side and found a couple more false leads. Ultimately I just circumvented the summit and came up from the south via the same route taken from the Exum Ridge. We collapsed on the summit and enjoyed our success in the carryover.

Summit at last. Even Teton Bill is tired. (by Steph Abegg)

Chimneys and puffies don't mix - Case Study #1 (by Steph Abegg)

Chimneys and puffies don't mix - Case Study #2 (by Steph Abegg)

It was nice to have made the summit, as we could scarcely see a thing when we climbed the Exum Ridge a few days ago. Now we had an excellent panorama. Still, despite the sun, the wind was howling and it felt far colder today than when we were up here in the swirling mist and intermittent rain. We were determined to enjoy our summit though, so we bundled up and relaxed, heading down just in time to make camp at the Lower Saddle before sunset.

Views South from the summit.

Teewinot from the summit.

Making the second rappel. It was sunnier this time, but we felt much colder! (by Steph Abegg)

Descending from the Upper Saddle. (by Steph Abegg)

Steph downclimbing the class 4 crux on the descent.

Other Route Annotations

I couldn't decide which route annotations I liked best, so I tried a bunch of variations. In case some of these are more helpful, here are the rest:

Grand Teton N Face & Ridge seen from the approach to Serendipity Arete.

Grand Teton from P3 of Serendipity Arete.

Grand Teton N Face in the morning from the S ridge of Mt Owen.

Grand Teton N Face and N Ridge from Teewinot camp.

Personal Website
Picasa Photo Album

Summary Trip Report
Day 1: Garnet Canyon Approach and the North Ridge of Middle Teton (II, 5.6)
Day 2: Complete Exum Ridge of the Grand Teton (III, 5.7)
Day 3: The Valhalla Traverse (II, cl. 3-4, steep ice/snow, rockfall & icefall hazard)(Carryover Day 1)
Day 4: Serendipity Arete of Mt Owen (IV, 5.9, 15P)(Carryover Day 2)
Day 5: Owen-Grandstand Traverse (II, 5.7, 3-5 rappels)(Carryover Day 3)
Day 7: Black Dike Traverse (II, cl. 3-4, moderate snow) and the Southwest Couloir of Mt Teewinot (II, cl. 4)(Carryout Day 1)
Day 8: Mt Teewinot via the Southwest Couloir (II, cl. 4) and East Face Descent (II, cl. 4)(Carryout Day 2)
Day 9: Southwest Ridge of Symmetry Spire (II, 5.7)

  Trip Report Views: 11,250
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 9, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
Wow mark, looks like FULL ON conditions!!!!
Glad you all made it work and still had some fun,
Thanks again!!!

Social climber
Salt Lake City
  Oct 10, 2012 - 12:37am PT
Very well done. That is as good a week as I know of anyone having in the Tetons!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Oct 19, 2012 - 03:05am PT
Thanks! Considering the poor conditions, I'm still amazed at how well everything went. Hard training, a positive attitude, and a great partner made this trip a success.

Trad climber
  Oct 23, 2012 - 05:21pm PT
My pard and I were there on September 30th and I noticed the gear you photographed on the grandstand.Wondered then what the story was.
We did the classic chimney line and slab to the ledge, all dry. I plan on going back and doing the Italian cracks variation next year,as that's the route my pard wanted to do anyway...;)

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 23, 2012 - 07:21pm PT
Brrrrrr!!!......nice work. I can recall some nasty conditions on the Grand- brought back memories.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Oct 23, 2012 - 11:19pm PT

Great report & photos--nice that you persevered!

When we tried the N Ridge, we went up the Teton Glacier and the
Grandstand--wrong move for sure! Then we got off route at the
chockstone chimney and ended on the west face. We got
up to one pitch from the top, and had to crawl off towards
Owen-Spalding because the wind was ROARING!
One of these days I'll go back. . .

Mountain climber
The Ocean
  Jan 22, 2013 - 11:13am PT
Pellucid got after it in 2012. Looking forward to his 2013 season and a better than guidebook level TRs!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jun 20, 2016 - 09:13am PT
Bump for great climbing content

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jun 20, 2016 - 09:34am PT
First time I read this one. Pretty serious looking, and one hell of an extended week of adventure. Lots of memories packed in a small interval of life.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 20, 2016 - 11:29am PT
Thanks for the marvelous trip report, and thanks, Larry, for bumping it. It's hard for me to comprehend how Underhill and Fryxell climbed this (well, the main route, not this variation) 85 years ago. Those men sure knew how to climb!


Trad climber
the middle of CA
  Jun 20, 2016 - 11:29am PT
Heard Mark had some minor injuries or health issues or something? Hope you heal up and get back on the rock, we miss your TRs!

Trad climber
Eldorado Springs, Colorado
  Jun 20, 2016 - 09:37pm PT
Thanks for posting. Brings back some cold memories of failing miserably on the North Face with Ron Cox in a foot of snow in the "summer" of '70.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 21, 2016 - 01:06pm PT
Heard Mark had some minor injuries or health issues or something? Hope you heal up and get back on the rock, we miss your TRs!

Yeah. I had 3 reconstructive knee surgeries spaced over 6 months from 2013-2014 to repair cartilage in both knees. I recovered just enough to get out on two mountaineering trips before I got frostbite on my right foot in February of 2015 (incredibly bad luck, and a long story). So I spent 2015 waiting for that to heal, and some toes to fall off ... I'm getting back into it now, but unfortunately due to some of the mechanical consequences of toe loss, I now need to have a reconstructive ankle surgery (slated for this September). So it won't be until 2017 that I am actually recovering with no surgery in sight, so long as I don't have another major injury ...

I have been getting out here and there, but not nearly as much, and not quite in a way where I'd have trip reports that fit in with the SuperTopo crowd as well: Mostly cycling, multi-day canoe and sea kayaking trips, since those were easier to do with my toes in various states of recovery. Although with some creativity in style and footwear I did manage to follow some easier routes while my toes were auto-amputating last year: Some 5.6-5.7 stuff in Vedauwoo, Red Rocks, & Yosemite, and a number of CO 14ers (all of the Front Range ones), including Kiener's Route on Long's Peak (Maybe I'll do a TR of these sometime? At least the frostbite aspect made them more interesting).

This summer it looks like I'll still be limited to just doing another batch of CO Rockies cycling, and some CO 14ers scrambling and climbing, but at a higher level of difficulty and volume than last year since now I am mostly limited by fitness and toe stump sensitivity (which is getting better as I keep working them). So if all goes well, you might see a Crestones or Bear-Blanca TR headed this way :-)

Hopefully once I get my ankle surgery behind me, I can begin doing some more SuperTopo TR-worthy/relevant stuff in 2017!

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jun 21, 2016 - 01:39pm PT
Hopefully once I get my ankle surgery behind me, I can begin doing some more SuperTopo TR-worthy/relevant stuff in 2017!

Your trip reports have been at the highest standards of excellence, Mark, as far as I'm concerned. You seem to have a particular skill at picking out routes that have always interested me, but that I somehow haven't done yet.

I hope you heal completely with no more complications.


Social climber
An Oil Field
  Jun 24, 2016 - 02:14pm PT
Great TR. I love the Tetons, and used to go there until I reached 18 and started spending the summer in the valley.

Looks like you got full value. Ice in the cracks is common both early and late in the season. A good friend of mine died guiding the Owen Spaulding of all things. We guess that he just slipped on an icy spot. I've done the Grand in late October, great weather, but it was icy.

Never did the N Ridge or the N Face. You got a good look at the N Face. Is it really kitty litter over there or not? I've got a trip there planned for next summer, and the N Face was a goal I never got around to doing when I was young.

Why more people don't climb there is a mystery to me. It is the only place in the US outside of the Cascades where you can get an alpine experience. The conditions you saw were typical in Chamonix. It just needed a hot day to clean itself up.

Anyway, I'll memorize the pics if I do the N Ridge when I am there, but I'll wait until it warms up a little.

What day of the year did you do it?

Mountain climber
Draperderr, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 24, 2016 - 04:34pm PT
You got a good look at the N Face. Is it really kitty litter over there or not?

From what I could tell, the rock looked good. Although I can see how it can often be wet with how it held snow and how the water seemed to drain down the face. It is one of my main objectives to go back for - especially now that I have seen it up close.

I'm also surprised that the area sees so little traffic ... although I suspect it is because it is a lot of work to get there, and it is committing to just get to the start of the route. With so many other great alpine rock climbs with easier access and lesser commitment, I think most people, with limited time in the range, spend it in those more accessible areas. Which I don't mind! All the easier to get away from the crowds without having to avoid classic climbs.

What day of the year did you do it?
September 4th, so late, but not that late! Really, I think the route was fine when we first arrived in the area to climb other things, and it was the rain/hail storm that passed through 2 days before that put all of the snow and ice over the route. So yeah, a warm day or two would have been enough to clear off the route.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Jun 24, 2016 - 10:15pm PT
Nice report! Hope everything heals up!

Never did the N Ridge or the N Face. You got a good look at the N Face. Is it really kitty litter over there or not? I've got a trip there planned for next summer, and the N Face was a goal I never got around to doing when I was young.

I did the North Face BITD (in the mid-sixties). It seems that people either love it or hate it. Certainly not very difficult, the N. Ridge is probably harder, but a nice climb in a lovely setting.

Did it in late June, when the ledges were snowfields, which I suppose added to the alpine character and perhaps covered up the kitty litter? No ice anywhere and no rockfall.

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Jun 27, 2016 - 09:47am PT
Thanks for the info. I've been reading all of your Teton TR's. I'm going to try to go there with Doug Robinson next summer, and do the classics. It will take that long to get my old ass back in shape and climbing again.

The Tetons are beautiful mountains. Reaching real summits is cool.

As for your icy conditions, I took my wife up the Owen Spaulding once in late October. The guides had removed everything already, and we had the mountain to ourselves. It was great fun doing the belly crawl, which has to be the coolest 5.5 pitch anywhere, hanging straight over the Black Ice Couloir as it is. Anyway, the cracks were very icy. No snow on the holds like you showed, but plenty of ice in the cracks.

Allan Bard was the name of my friend who died guiding that route. Terrific guy. Much missed.

Anyway, thanks for posting these Teton TR's, and don't be shy about putting up a ton of photos. They will be put to good use.

A 5.7 like the Exum Ridge, is an exciting climb to do. Even if you can climb much harder routes, it is one of those must do climbs.

Also, in the old days, you would see Yosemite hardmen there. My partner and I shared the Moose Bar with Chuck Pratt on my 18th birthday (the old drinking age). He never said a word. A very quiet man. We would also see him at the Jenny Lake boulders in the evenings, and still he was always quiet. We of course worshiped him, but didn't want to bug him. Anyway, that generation of Yosemite climbers would go there around the first of July, when it got too hot in the valley.

The rock is super varied. A lot of it is metamorphic, which you don't see much on high mountains. It adds a little to the spice.
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report