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Access and Resources

Outside magazine, June 1996

Access and Resources

A 360 view in four days or less
By Kathy Martin

Little wonder that the Grand Teton proves an irresistible lure to 2,000 climbers a year: Its 25 or so routes require technical skills, but beginners can prepare for the climb with a couple days of instruction in rope handling, knots, belaying, and rappelling; advanced rock jocks can rope up for harder climbs, such as the 5.9 North Face. The summer climbing season is June 15 to September 15, between the spring storms and the fall snows.

Outfitters. Both 65-year-old Exum Mountain Guides (307-733-2297) and 28-year-old Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (800-239-7642) offer a two-day guided ascent of the Grand for experienced climbers and a beginner's four-day climb that includes two days of instruction. Exum operates a base-camp hut near 11,500 feet on the Grand Teton's Lower Saddle--seven miles and 5,000 vertical feet from the park valley--where you'll climb the first day and camp before attempting the summit the next morning. The outfitter favors the popular Exum Ridge ($320-$495) but takes experienced groups up more difficult routes such as the Black Ice Couloir and the East and North Ridges ($370-$600). Two days of climbing instruction costs an additional $160 per person. Technical hardware, sleeping bags and pads, and cooking facilities are included in the price, although food is not. Jackson Hole climbs less trafficked routes such as the Pownall-Gilkey, Emerson Chimney, and Petzoldt Ridge. Its two-day guided climbs cost $320-$510; a four-day Grand Teton Climber's Course costs $675, including three nights at base camp beneath the Garnet Spires, all training, food, and climbing and camping gear.

Do it yourself. Most self-guided climbers, like Chip Brown, hike up to the Lower Saddle the first day, camp, and then summit and descend the second day, reaching the valley by early evening. To spend the night on the mountain, you must obtain a free backcountry permit at the Jenny Lake ranger station, where the climbing rangers and search-and-rescue squad can fill you in on conditions. Call 307-739-3600 for a backcountry information packet, which shows camping zones for climbers. For additional information, call the Jenny Lake ranger station (307-739-3343) June through September. You can rent climbing gear at Moosely Seconds Mountaineering (307-733-7176) at Dornan's, in Moose.

How to get there. American, Delta, and United fly to the Jackson Hole Airport, adjacent to the park. Or fly to Salt Lake City and rent a car for the spectacular four- to five-hour drive north on I-15 and east on U.S. 26.

Where to bunk or camp. Inside the park, the Grand Teton Lodge Company (307-543-2811) runs Jackson Lake Lodge (rooms, $95-$168), Colter Bay Village (log cabins, $58-$104; tent cabins, $24; RV sites, $25), and Jenny Lake Lodge (log cabins, $265-$335, including breakfast, dinner, and bicycle use). North of the park, Flagg Ranch Village rents cabins ($110-$120), motel rooms ($91-$96), and campsites ($17 for two people); call 800-443-2311. Campers can pitch a tent at one of five Park Service campgrounds for $10 per night; call 307-739-3300.

Guidebooks. Jackson-area mountaineering shops recommend Richard Rossiter's Teton Classics: 50 Selected Climbs in Grand Teton National Park ($15, from Chockstone Press, 303-674-6888) for the most accurate description and history of climbing routes in the Teton Range.

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