American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Grand Teton, Southeast Chimney

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1974

Grand Teton, Southeast Chimney. By taking advantage of an important variation pioneered in 1960 by Lev, Greig, Glosser, and Laing, a new route on the Grand Teton was found by David Lowe and me on August 5. The 1960 variation started from Glencoe Col up toward the face of the first tower of the Underhill Ridge, and then cut right up a series of chimneys to the east of the ridge, instead of left as in the standard (1931) Underhill Ridge route. After about five leads the 1960 party cut back left (south) from under a prominent grey overhang to regain the crest of the ridge just below the final tower. From beneath this same overhang the 1973 party cut horizontally right for 150 feet to the beginning of the southeast chimney which lies at the north edge of the east face of the Underhill Ridge. The narrow chimney is a significant feature of this side of the mountain, extending for over 300 feet to the vicinity of the notch which separates the last tower on the ridge from the main slabs of the southeast face of the Grand. The first 50 feet up the chimney were strenuous but reasonable to a stance just below the crux, a narrowing of the chimney with two smooth, protruding flakes. Passage of this section was very difficult indeed, since a light snow and rain had wet the rock and there were no holds on the outside smooth and vertical faces of the chimney. The conclusion of this crux pitch was a belay point in the same chimney which now formed the right (north) edge of a slabby friction face. The climb probably should have continued up the chimney, but instead an exploratory traverse was made out onto the slabs, and then back to the right until only 25 feet from the chimney. The next lead regained the chimney and turned up easily for 60 feet until F7 difficulties were encountered, requiring some stemming to reach a belay in a rather inadequate alcove, just below the last steep section of the chimney. The final exciting exit from the top of the chimney involved some very small holds and a beautiful lieback in the crack to which the chimney had dwindled. A short scramble up the east face of the ridge then led to the notch where the usual southeast slabs were followed to the summit. While the technical difficulty of the southeast chimney is comparable to some of the north and west routes on the mountain, the relative ease of escape and the ability to see the approaching weather make this climb a less serious undertaking. The rock is excellent, but the awkwardness and strenuousness of the crux may keep this route from great popularity. III, F8.

Leigh N. Ortenburger

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