One-Up the Grand

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Mar 20, 2012
Outside Magazine
Grand Teton

Conrad Anker on the Grand Teton    Photo: Jimmy Chin

To climb the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, you need a rack, rope, harness, and the skills to use them safely—or a $1,000 guide. The beauty of the Grand’s neighbor, the 12,804-foot Middle Teton, is that it’s a lot less likely to kill you, requires no ropes, and offers the same crazy views. (In fact, the view from the Middle Teton is arguably better, since it includes the Grand.) Here’s how to do it: Go in August, when all the snow in the southwest couloir—the easiest route—has melted. Pick up a backcountry permit for the Meadows campsites in Garnet Canyon, four miles into the 7.3-mile route ($25). In the morning, head for the saddle between the Middle and South Tetons, then hike 300 feet along the ridge until the southwest couloir comes into view. Get a dawn start so you’re off the peak before noon—afternoon storms can rake the summits with lightning. Bonus: from the saddle between the two peaks, tagging the 12,514-foot South Teton adds only 1,000 feet of climbing. After a long descent back to your car at Lupine Meadows, gorge on a calzone and Snake River Lager at Dornans, in the town of Moose, then crash back in town in a cozy cabin at the Alpine House ($195).