Grand Teton guides

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 13-19, 1996
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Grand Teton guides
Question: I read in Outside about two groups offering climbs up Grand Teton (June '96). I've got info on both (Exum and JHMG), and know the differences. Which is better and which takes you up the best looking and most challenging routes (intermediate)? Hope you can help.

Dan Rabin
Arlington, VA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: First of all, the whole dang mountain is pretty good looking. And the views from the summit, well, they're the same no matter which route you take. With that in mind, the decision really boils down to how many people you're willing to dodge along the way and how much experience you have.

If you're new to mountaineering, you'll need to spend two days learning the ropes (ahem) before beginning the climb, regardless of whether you choose Exum or JHMG. But you probably know that already. Exum takes most of its less experienced climbers up the well-traveled Exum Ridge. It's a challenging, technical ascent along the south ridge that has plenty of solid rock, interesting route-finding, and commanding views of the Snake River Valley--all of which make it one of the most classic ascents in North America. Unfortunately, they also make it the most heavily trafficked route to the summit of the Grand. Still, if you don't mind the company, the Exum Ridge is definitely the most climbing bang for your buck.

If, on the other hand, your object is relative solitude, consider signing on with JHMG's guided climb up the Petzoldt Ridge, a moderate ascent along the next large buttress to the north of the Exum and an ideal alternative to its busier neighbor. Like it says in the June sidebar, "Access and Resources", if you're a proven climber, Exum will take you up more difficult--and less trammeled routes--like the Black Ice Couloir and the East and North Ridges.

For a final, but admittedly biased, route rundown, try calling the outfitters themselves (Exum, 307-733-2297; JHMG, 800-239-7642).

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