Owen-Spalding route - 5.4, Trad, alpine, 3 pitches, 1560 ft., Grade II
The Owen-Spalding route, or OS for short, is the standard route to the summit of the Grand Teton. Getting up to the beginning of the route involves hiking and scrambling up 6,400 vertical feet and 7 miles to the upper saddle between the Enclosure and the Grand Teton. From the there, the route traverses south across an easy, albeit very exposed, ledge called the "belly crawl." After the exposed traverse, the route climbs up through a couple easy (5.4) chimneys to the summit.
On any given day, you will encounter several guided groups on the OS route. If you are up there early enough, you can just follow them to the top, but that means you have to wait in line. If you are courageous enough, you can solo this route and down climb, eliminating the need to carry gear and rope.
I am planning on attempting (again) to circumnavigate Mt. Rainier via the Wonderland Trail (93 miles) in under 48 hours with friends, MD and KD. So KD and I decided to try the OS route on the Grand Teton in one day for fun and for training. 14 miles and 7,000 vertical feet is a tough day for anyone and we were no exception.
We started hiking from the Lupine Meadows trailhead at 3:20 am in the dark. We passed a pair of exhausted dudes carrying heavy loads down the trail around 4 am. Apparently, they could wait no longer to get down. We were moving quickly and we tried to keep talking to avoid any unwanted interactions with wildlife, despite being sleep deprived. At one point, we saw a pair of eyes shining back at us from the forest. I picked up a rock and threw it in the direction of the animal. It didn't budge. I can't speak for KD, but I was slightly nervous but I kept hiking towards it down the trail...bear? cougar? moose? deer? It was a deer.
|Moonlit South Teton|
|Moonlight and sunrise mix|
|KD posing in the moonlight, like usual|
|Getting close to lower saddle|
|Scrambling up towards Upper Saddle|
|Looking down towards the Lower Saddle from the Upper Saddle|
|East face of Grand Teton - this picture shows the entire OS route. There a couple groups on the route in this picture for scale.|
|Belly crawl section|