From the upper saddle (13,160'), rope up and belay from a large boulder near the north face. Continue around towards the north face to reach the "belly crawl", an obvious and well named feature. It is a ledge not more than 18" wide with an overhang above. The exposure here is very exciting. Continue traversing around the ledge about 15' to the double chimney (P1), the technical crux of the climb, about 5.4.
Directly above this is the Owen Chimney (P2) which angles up to the right. The route from here goes north east to a third, very large chimney called Sargent's Chimney (P3). From the top of Sarg's, continue up and to the left. Pay careful attention to your assent path from Sarg's, you will need to find it on the down climb and it isn't obvious!
For the descent, downclimb Sarg's Chimney and then make your way to the left to a 120' rappel that drops you directly onto the upper saddle.
The route finding can be difficult, particularly on descent given the whole mountain shows signs of traffic. There are many variations to the route depending on conditions.
Buy the guidebook: "A Climber's Guide to the Teton Range" by Ortenburger & Jackson. It is perhaps the greatest guidebook ever written.
Getting up to the upper saddle from the lower saddle is a climb all unto itself. The guidebook provides an excellent description.
A small alpine rack is fine provided you are familiar with using natural features for belays and 5.4 climbing is easy for you.
|Comments on Owen Spalding
|By richard magill|
May 18, 2006
I did this without roping up a number of years back. I was in a Colorado 14er mode and thought I would skip the hassle. Not smart.
The climb is quite easy but there is a stretch just after the "belly roll" with a 5.4 move and about 2000 feet of exposure. I believe you would land somewhere near the bottom of the Black Ice Couloir if you goofed up.
You need a rope anyway because you have to rap down - or down climb the exposed 5.4 move, which you wouldn't want to do.
So take a light rack and enjoy yourself. Beautiful climb!
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 5, 2006
When dry, this route is not difficult although you can still get off-route. However, it faces NW and after a snow or hail storm it can take many days (if not weeks) to dry off. There was one summer when it kept getting snowed on, and the route was in "winter condition" all summer! The guides had a really bad season that summer. Even on a good year by September it usually receives a dusting of snow.
From above this route is difficult to find and it appears improbable. I've downclimbed it once unroped when dry, but this was with a person who had gone up it the week before. This is a quick way to bypass the crowded raps, but I wouldn't recommend it.
|By Dalon Morgan|
Aug 1, 2008
To add a little spice to this route, try the Wittich Crack variation (5.6). It is the obvious crack that starts about 10 feet before reaching the belly crawl. P1, follow the crack to an obvious ledge under a roof. P2, climb past two fixed pins out and around the roof to the left and up easy climbing to the catwalk. Stay as straight as possible to avoid heinous rope drag. Awesome route and a lot of fun.
|By Scott Bennett|
Jul 26, 2010
On the descent, it is possible to make the main rappel (the one that avoids the "Belly Roll" and "Double Chimney") in a single rappel with a single 60m rope. This is from the well used slung-horn anchor.
Just make sure to trend to rappeler's right as you descend, and you'll land on walking terrain a few feet right and uphill from where most folks (with 2 ropes or a single 70m) will land. It's probably a 95' rap.
|By Rich F.|
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 31, 2010
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV VD 3c
Great summit -- not much technical climbing, but a strenuous adventure with some amazing exposure and a lot of Class 3 & 4 climbing above the "Needle." We left our rope at the Sargent's Chimney rappel on the way up -- but still had surprising amount of somewhat exposed Class 4 climbing left to get to the summit. And I want to reiterate what Jason said in his route description above, "Pay careful attention to your assent path from Sarg's, you will need to find it on the down climb and it isn't obvious!" True, True, True!
|By Teton Climber|
Jun 19, 2011
While it's not for the faint of heart, the Grand is fine solo free climb for many individuals, even for those who aren't avid climbers. It's common to see folks doing the round trip in one day when the weather & route conditions are good. You really just need to be a strong hiker and not afraid of exposure.
You don't need to use the rap to get back down if you solo unless the conditions demand it. This isn't a risk-free climb, but it's certainly not as difficult as some would have you believe.
Route finding can be difficult for those who go up the Upper Exum and then come down the Owen-Spalding if they haven't done it before. Usually you can follow the crowds, but not always for solos. Also, with YouTube and other sites, route finding has become much easier. Site for Solo Free Climbers
|By Mark Orsag|
Feb 21, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b
You can go left at several points -- The Crack of Doom, etc.. Probably raises the rating to 5.6-5.7, but it was still faster and pretty easy. Helped us get to the front of the "long snake" of ascending climbers.