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Grand Teton
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Unsorted Routes:

Owen Spalding 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 1560', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Owen, Spalding, Peterson (Aug 11, 1898)
Page Views: 46,272
Submitted By: Jason Wine on Apr 10, 2006

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Looking down from the belly crawl.

Description 

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.

Location 

Getting up to the upper saddle from the lower saddle is a climb all unto itself. The guidebook provides an excellent description.

Protection 

A small alpine rack is fine provided you are familiar with using natural features for belays and 5.4 climbing is easy for you.



Photos of Owen Spalding Slideshow Add Photo
Descending Owen Spalding, January.
Descending Owen Spalding, January.
Dan Carson checking out the upper OS, January.
Dan Carson checking out the upper OS, January.
Photo Cred - Wade Morris
Photo Cred - Wade Morris
Setting up the 120ft rappel to the Upper Saddle
Setting up the 120ft rappel to the Upper Saddle
Taking a quick break to put on the crampons on the way up to the upper saddle.  Middle Teton is straight across and the lower saddle is the rock scree far below in the center.
Taking a quick break to put on the crampons on the...
A father and son team wandering off route looking for the OS with Jenny Lake in the back ground.
A father and son team wandering off route looking ...
Headwall dividing the Moraine campground from the Lower Saddle.  The "fixed rope" would be on the right side, but at the end of July climbers are still crossing the headwall up the snow -- an ice axe is definitely recommended. (Photo credit:  Dave G)
BETA PHOTO: Headwall dividing the Moraine campground from the ...
At the top of the Double Chimney looking down over the North Face.
At the top of the Double Chimney looking down over...
trail around eye of the needle
BETA PHOTO: trail around eye of the needle
looking down at the eye of the needle.
BETA PHOTO: looking down at the eye of the needle.
approach from lower saddle.
BETA PHOTO: approach from lower saddle.
Looking up the route from the Lower Saddle.  There is a well-defined trail that passes by the Exum Huts at the bottom of the Lower Saddle, up to the the "Black Dike" which can be seen protruding out in this photo.  You will pass just left of, then cross behind the Black Dike before the trail steepens and passes in front of, and to the left of, the large pyramid-shaped "Needle."  The trail moves left under the Needle and will pass by the "Chockstone Chimney" which will be on the right going up the Needle.  Continue about another 100 feet and there will be a small black "staircase" about 2 feet wide climbing up to the right.  It's very prominent.  Climb this black rock staircase.  At the top of the staircase you must traverse right and a little up to swing back around to the "Eye of the Needle" or alternately you can bypass the eye by continuing more or less straight up with some low Class 5 moves.  Once you have passed the Needle, to do the Owen-Spalding route you will want to stay on the left side of the large ridge feature as you climb to the Upper Saddle.  The trail is not well defined here, but there are many ways to the top.  Just stay on the left side of the ridge and be prepared for a lot of class 3 and class 4 climbing to get to the upper saddle.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the route from the Lower Saddle. There...
Dave G. on the trail descending just above the Black Dike.  Well below you can just make out the Exum Huts at the bottom of the Lower Saddle.  The trail passes right in front of those huts.
Dave G. on the trail descending just above the Bla...
Start of Owen Spalding technical
Start of Owen Spalding technical
View South after early morning start
View South after early morning start
Going up the chimney
Going up the chimney
Lou near the top of the Owen Chimney.
Lou near the top of the Owen Chimney.
map supplied by park service showing trail to upper saddle and locations of water. no bear cannisters needed at upper saddle as their are food boxes. no need to bring water as you can fuel up all the way to the saddle.
BETA PHOTO: map supplied by park service showing trail to uppe...
Beta photo with tons of useful info copied from <a href='http://www.wyomingwhiskey.org' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >wyomingwhiskey.org</a>.  Check out their web site for more info, I added this in case their web site ever disappears.
BETA PHOTO: Beta photo with tons of useful info copied from ww...
View from the summit looking back northeast towards Jackson Lake.
View from the summit looking back northeast toward...
view looking back through the eye of the needle (which is the lower black hole in the photo).  this will be your view when descending.
BETA PHOTO: view looking back through the eye of the needle (w...
Dave G. at the entry to the "Eye of the Needle."
Dave G. at the entry to the "Eye of the Needle."
EJ Follows the "Belly Crawl"
BETA PHOTO: EJ Follows the "Belly Crawl"
Starting the 120' rap down to the upper saddle.
Starting the 120' rap down to the upper saddle.

Show All 24 Photos

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Comments on Owen Spalding Add Comment
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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.

-Scott
By Rich F.
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 31, 2010
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 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 claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 14, 2013

Tons of beta pictures at this link

wyomingwhiskey.org/2013/01/gra...
By Mark Orsag
Feb 21, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

You can go left at several points -- The Crack of Doom, etc.. Probably raises the rating to 5.6, but it was still faster and pretty easy. Helped us get to the front of the "long snake" of ascending climbers.
By Max Bechdel
From: Bozeman, MT
Apr 24, 2014

I like the description, buy the guidebook. Isn't mountain project supposed to be the guide book? :P