Variable Snow on the Grand Teton

The Grand Teton is and alpine classic. Located in the Teton Range of the Northern Rockies, the peak itself has a national park named after it.  With over 35 routes from 5.4 to 5.12, there are infinite possibilities for climbing.  

We decided to try our luck at a winter ascent of the Grand with a ski descent.  This requires low avalanche conditions, mixed alpine climbing, and endurance.  Our plan was to take the Ford/ Stettner route but we were forced to call the mission off as the snow conditions became very questionable near the Teepee Glacier. 

We slept in our camper at the Lupine Meadow Trailhead the night before as mother nature dumped fresh snow on us.  This would be our pitfall; without the 6 inches of snow that accumulated and 10-12 in the mountains, I believe the snow conditions would have remained in our favor.  We took our time on the approach to base camp above the meadows in Garnet canyon.  Here we dug out a platform for our tent and then later dug snow pits to access the snow conditions- all were good.

To accomplish the substantial distance and elevation gain before us, we set our alarms for 2am on summit day. We boot packed in our crampons after the grade was too steep for a skin track. With headlamps to guide us through the darkness, we began traversing the couloir up to the Teepee Glacier.  At 9am we became unsettled by the snow conditions we were in and decided to turn around.  Although, we were unsuccessful with our overall mission, we had a blast enjoying the Tetons and some good turns on our way out.  We will return next winter for another crack at the Grand.