Climbing in the fall here can present more difficulties than mid-summer. Shorter days coupled with colder and often unpredictable weather make alpine routes harder and more committing. There are some options for lower elevation climbing in the valley though, which can be good well into autumn. South facing, short-approach objectives in Grand Teton can be quick enough to climb in shorter day, as can our few sport climbing and bouldering options.
Take a look at these, and hop on one during a clear fall day.
1. Cascade Canyon Routes
Cascade Canyon holds the parks ‘cragging’ routes, meaning they’re relatively short, and are climbed in a day. While they’re still bigger objectives than what’s usually considered cragging, they’re viable in a shorter day. Routes range from 1-6 pitches or so, and range in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.11. Some popular routes are:
Guide’s Wall – The classic low-commitment route in the park goes at 5.8, and features solid rock, and rappel anchors that make bailing easy; whether it’s because a storm is coming, or you just aren’t feeling it. 6 pitches, up to 5.8, traditional gear.
Baxter’s Pinnacle – This is another classic, with an even shorter approach! A few pitches with climbing up to 5.6 lead to a scramble to the base of the last pitch; which goes at 5.9+. There’s a 5.9 boulder problem right of the deck (as is a piton), leading to 5.7 above. Great climbing to a very scenic summit. Exercise caution on the descent, it’s steep and loose!
No Perches Necessary – Almost as short of an approach as Baxters! This 2 pitch route can be climbed in a few hours by competent parties. The first pitch has a wide crack (#3.5-4 Camelot) leading to face climbing and a bolted anchor. The second pitch is 5.8, with sparse gear and a few bolts for protection. The bolts are spaced out, so be solid at 5.8!
2. Boulder Town
Boulder Town (or Boulder City) is accessed from the Cathedral Group Turnout on the Jenny Lake/String Lake road. Turn off of the main park road at North Jenny Lake Junction, and find the turnout on the right after about a 1/4 mile. Hike west out of the parking lot, into the trees and turn right up and over the moraine after 5-10 minutes. You’ll find a wide range of boulder problems and some top rope routes on the largest boulders. Landings can be bad, bring a rope or a pad!
3. Blacktail Butte
Grand Teton’s sport crag, located in Moose, is a natural choice for cooler weather. Routes face west mostly, so climb in the afternoon for sunshine and warmer temps. Lower Blacktail has more difficult routes, and Upper Blacktail (a 10 minute approach) has routes starting at 5.9 or 5.10a.
4. The Teton Boulder Park, base of Snow King
This artificial climbing area is a great place to train, practice, and learn to climb. 3 freestanding boulders feature boulder problems of varying steepness. They’re constructed like an indoor climbing wall, with moveable holds. Routes are reset several times a year (mostly mid-summer).
5. Rodeo Wall
The Rodeo Wall is one of the sport crags south of Jackson. To get there, drive south of Jackson, heading right at Hoback Junction. You’ll find a parking lot for the cliff on the right about 5 minutes from the Hoback roundabout. Approach is quick and straightforward. The cliff is just slightly less than vertical, featuring small, sharp crimps, a few slab moves, and overhangs. Difficulties start at 5.8 or 5.9.
Sun beta: Rodeo Wall will get sun early. Climb there in the morning if you’re looking for some warmth, expect the sun to go behind the cliff early afternoon.
6. Hoback Shield
Another south-of-Jackson cliff, the Shield is about 15 miles from Hoback Junction toward Pinedale. You’ll see the cliff about 15 minutes after the roundabout on the left. Park in a turnout on the right. Climbs here are more slabby (and somewhat polished) than Rodeo. There’s one 5.7, one 5.8, and harder climbs.
Sun beta: the Shield is shady in the morning, and gets sun late morning/afternoon. This is a good choice on cold afternoons.
Been to all of these? Looking for something else?
Check out the Jenny Lake Boulders, Rock Springs Buttress, or the Goat Cave. If it’s a really cold day here, check out the crags around Heise, Idaho. An hour’s drive to some sunny basalt crags. Helmet recommended.