Top Ten National Parks for Rock Climbing

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Teton Range overlooking Jenny Lake
The Teton Range overlooking Jenny Lake

When I drew as a child, my trees were broad evergreens, my mountains snowcapped equilateral triangles, and my birds floating m's in a blue sky. Much later I drove to Wyoming and discovered that I had been drawing the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park. These magnificent peaks are the quintessential mountain range, providing inspiration for countless logos and, more importantly, an escape from all things sold by the owners of those logos.

Twelve snowcapped Teton peaks abruptly rise more than 12,000 feet into the wide Wyoming sky. The tallest peak, 13,770-foot Grand Teton, soars more than a mile above the valley floor, overlooking beautiful Jackson Hole to the south. The Tetons beg to be photographed, hiked, and for the truly adventurous, climbed.

Grand Teton National Park offers the rock climber a bit of everything. You can find some great crag climbing in Cascade Canyon and Death Canyon, less challenging (but no less fun) routes like Owen-Spalding Route on the south side of Grand Teton, and classics like Mount Moran's South Buttress. The beauty of Teewinot Mountain is not to be missed, and, for those of you who like to mix it up, there is no shortage of brilliant alpine climbs throughout the park.

South Buttress Right, a 5.11a route on solid, gray granite, is considered by many the premier Teton climb. There are three options for the first pitch, which is marked by a boulder at its base. A tricky 5.9 layback on the second pitch sets the tone for the rest of the route. The 5.11 crux, involving a devilish undercling and a terribly thin crack to the belay ledge, comes next. After completing the "Great Traverse"—a large slab of rock over empty space—two more challenging pitches will bring you to the large belay edge at the end of the climb.


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