Do the Teton Grand Traverse

A ten-summit high-altitude climb in Grand Teton National Park

Jun 5, 2016
Outside Magazine
Jimmy Chin

   Photo: Jimmy Chin

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What it is: A three-day, high-altitude expedition over some of the biggest summits in Grand Teton National Park. 

Why it’s worth it: Most alpine routes in the lower 48 involve only a summit or two. The traverse hits ten, and it keeps climbers above 12,000 feet for most of the trip, with views across the park and into Yellowstone.

How to prep: Climbing experience is a plus, but the technical sections of the route, which top out around 5.8, are pretty basic even for beginners. More relevant is ­being comfortable with vertical exposure—you’ll want to have spent ample time in the mountains. But the single most important factor for a successful traverse is fitness, says Zahan Billimoria, who leads trips for Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson, Wyoming. “The foundation of your fitness has to be endurance,” he says. The entire route covers almost 14 miles and includes more than 24,000 feet of elevation change. Climbers who go with Exum can stash food at the company’s hut on the Grand’s lower saddle, which keeps pack loads manageable. The Grand may be the crown jewel, but it can get crowded with day-trippers. Teewinot (summit one), Mount Owen (summit two), and the Middle Teton (summit four) are the real gems and provide a solitary alpine experience rarely found in the continental United States. 

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