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Lower Exum Ridge 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 800'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: 
Season: Summer
Page Views: 39,151
Submitted By: Steven Lucarelli on Jul 5, 2006

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The Exum Ridge (sunlit ridge on the right). The E...

Description 

The Lower Exum Ridge is a classic route on the southeast side of the Grand Teton. All of the pitches are good but the 5th pitch is by far the best being that it's steep, exposed and still only 5.7.

P1: A large chimney with some chockstones in it. Squeeze through a hole under the chockstones about halfway up and then climb out of the chimney on the right shortly after that and up to a large ledge.

P2: Climb easy terrain up and left following some cracks to another nice ledge.

P3: Move the belay to the base of a nice hand crack. Climb the crack up and left then traverse back right and pull up onto lower angle rock.

P4: Climb up past a large chockstone (I climbed around it on the outside) and to a broken up ledge at the base of the steep 5th pitch. (Pitches 3 and 4 can be combined barely with a 50m rope)

P5: Climb up and right from the ledge and follow a crack with a few pins in it. Belay at a pin and fixed cam.

P6: Climb straight up an awkward crack on smooth rock and then head right on easier terrain but with minimal gear. Belay on Wall Street ledge. (An easier option is to go left from the belay which also ends up on Wall Street)

Combining the Lower and Upper Exum Ridge to the summit is a great way to climb the Grand.

Location 

Finding the route can be a little tricky if you've never been up there before. From the Lower Saddle head north toward the Grand but instead of going up the ridge traverse down along the east side of the saddle. Continue scrambling east and keep an eye out for a black band of rock that runs east to west and is where the route starts from. The first pitch is a large chimney which is visible from the saddle and requires some scrambling or easy climbing to get to. Descend the Owen Spalding route to the Upper Saddle and don't drop down the first gully that leads southeast. Instead go farther west and look for some climbers trails that work their way down to the Lower Saddle

Protection 

I used a small selection of cams from a green Alien to a #3 Camalot and about 10 nuts of various sizes and felt that was adequate. There are several pins on pitch five and a few rap anchors on the route in different locations.


Photos of Lower Exum Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Some fellow climbers were nice enough to send me this photo of myself near the top of the black face pitch.
Some fellow climbers were nice enough to send me t...
Route profile of the upper pitches taken from the west
BETA PHOTO: Route profile of the upper pitches taken from the ...
End of the exposed Black Face Pitch
End of the exposed Black Face Pitch
Robert Henderson starting the Black Face (p5)
Robert Henderson starting the Black Face (p5)
View of the Exum Ridge from the Lower Saddle on the Grand Teton.
BETA PHOTO: View of the Exum Ridge from the Lower Saddle on th...
on the ridge
on the ridge
Red is the correct approach ledge to the chimney of P1.  Yellow is an alternative approach that adds 1/2 pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Red is the correct approach ledge to the chimney o...
A view of the Petzolt with the famous "window pitch" from the Exum.
A view of the Petzolt with the famous "window...
Jim LaRue leading the arete variation to pitch 6.
Jim LaRue leading the arete variation to pitch 6.
Following on the Black Face pitch.
Following on the Black Face pitch.
Looking down p1, the chockstone chimney.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down p1, the chockstone chimney.
Warren discovering the awkward crack on pitch 6.  I thought this was the crux of the route.
Warren discovering the awkward crack on pitch 6. ...
The direct black face variation to the Lower Exum Ridge.  July 2013
The direct black face variation to the Lower Exum ...
Starting up the Black Face, June 2011 (who brings a chalk bag alpine climbing?!?!?!)
Starting up the Black Face, June 2011 (who brings ...
Complete Exum Ridge, profile
Complete Exum Ridge, profile
Freezing our asses off on the second pitch.
Freezing our asses off on the second pitch.
Warren at the start of the 3rd pitch.
Warren at the start of the 3rd pitch.
Awkward P4 traverse below the V-Slot pitch
Awkward P4 traverse below the V-Slot pitch
Keen Butterworth ops for the harder direct option straight up the Black Face (5.10-?).  Spectacular!
Keen Butterworth ops for the harder direct option ...
The crimpy V-slot pitch before the Black Face
The crimpy V-slot pitch before the Black Face
George Bell on the Black Face (pitch 5)
George Bell on the Black Face (pitch 5)
another shot of the Black face pitch
another shot of the Black face pitch
The first pitch, where you can either follow the chimney on the left, or climb the face of the right as Warren is doing.
The first pitch, where you can either follow the c...
Jonny on the Black Face. Photo by Brett Barrett.
Jonny on the Black Face. Photo by Brett Barrett.

Show All 34 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Lower Exum Ridge Add Comment
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By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 5, 2006

The start can be difficult to locate, especially in the pre-dawn hours. The easiest approach is to go beyond (right of) the starting pitch, easy talus walking on the black dyke. At some point there is a small cairn marking a traverse back left on a generally wide but sometimes exposed ledge. It deposits you right at the base of the first pitch "chimney". Describing P1 as a chimney is a little confusing, as it is more like a gigantic, featured open book. Very visible from the Lower Saddle in the evening if you know where to look.

See my trip report at home.comcast.net/~gibell/trip_...
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Jul 21, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

A classic line on a classic peak.

The approach from the lower saddle to the base of the approach ramp took about 30 minutes. It begins about 10 minutes up the Owen-Spaulding trail from the lower saddle, and heads east eventually hitting the black dyke. If you get to the Petzold ridge you've gone too far. In the morning darkness, we accidentally scrambled up the wrong ramp and ended up on top of the first pitch. Our ramp was consistently 4th class. Apparently another ramp begins slightly further west, but we missed it in the darkness.

All the pitches on the Lower Exum are awesome. The black face is particularly memorable - steep, positive holds, and great gear. We linked pitches 3 and 4 listed above.

We left the Lower Saddle at 4:00am, and we're at the top of Wall Street at 8:15am. We were moving efficiently, but not speed climbing by any means.

There was no sun until we hit Wall Street and the base of the Upper Exum ridge. And with a breeze, it was a little chilly even on a hot summer day. So plan on cold conditions if you are climbing this in early or late summer.

For the Upper Exum, we just did a continuous running belay. We hit the top at 10:15am.

Gear: Nuts, including small ones. Set of finger size cams. Doubles 0.75-2" camalots. One #3 camalot. And a big hex. 14 long runners (and that was just enough).
By Robert Henderson
From: Wilson, WY
Apr 19, 2009

There are many options on this route. If the p1 chimney is too cold for the fingers, walk right around the corner and climb a 5.6 face that gets some morning sun. Also the face just right of the chimney is hard-to-protect 5.8. The Black Face, p5, has at least 2 crack lines about 8-10 feet apart. The right one is the traditional one but the left one goes, too. At the end of the pitch, instead of belaying in the alcove, one can traverse left to the edge of an arete and a dynamite belay stance. From there, a steep slab/crack with a little more RO than some would like leads back right to the main crack. It's a very scenic and less claustrophobic variation.
By Jeff Mekolites
From: HOTlanta, GA
Aug 20, 2012

Super classic route and awesome climbing. For a very memorable pitch, link the black face and next pitch into one 195 foot monster alpine pitch. Awesome. The holds, the climbing, the history, the gear - all make this an amazing pitch of rock climbing!
By Ray Pinpillage
From: West Egg
Sep 11, 2012

If you're using a 70m rope to rap on the decent then you can combine P5 and P6 and belay from Wallstreet. We linked P3/P4 and P5/P6.
By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 14, 2013

Tons of beta pictures at this link

wyomingwhiskey.org/2013/01/gra...
By John Korfmacher
From: Fort Collins, CO
Sep 2, 2013

If you want to avoid the scrambling, choss and additional hiking that constitute the approach to P1, there is an enjoyable alternative on the west side (near side as you approach from the Lower Saddle). It is a RF corner that is visible (in daylight, anyway) as you approach; it deposits you directly at the start of P1 as described above. It's a fun pitch (5.8 with good pro) and is in character with the rest of this absolutely excellent route. The pitch finishes with a roof that appears imposing until you find the amazing bucket holds above it.

The Lower Exum is among the finest alpine climbs I've done. Imagine Durrance putting this thing up in 1936 with kletterschue and hemp ropes! Even today it still feels bold, especially the black wall pitch.

P6 as described above is (IMO) well protected. There is a short quartz-crystal traverse but it can be protected with a sling over a knob or an old pin. The climbing above that is a moderate crack that takes good nuts and smallish cams.