Grand Teton Solo via Owen Spalding

Grand Teton Solo via Owen Spalding
Looking down on Middle Teton from near the Upper Saddle


On September 5th I started out from the Lupine Meadows trailhead at 7 AM to summit the Grand by myself. My intention was to climb up the Owen Spalding (OS) route and down climb the route as well, as I did not want to take a rope.

Weather & Conditions

Wind was minimal until the summit, where it was quite breezy. There was some smoke in the air but the AQI was reported to be below 100.

Temps were warm and it was sunny past the meadows. T shirt and shorts weather according to my notes. However it was very cold up higher. On the summit I wore a puffy and a hard shell.

The OS was quite snowy and icy, it had thunderstorm-ed in the park a few weeks before and that had resulted in wintry precipitation high on the mountain. As the OS is in the shade, it had not fully melted out. There was enough bare dry rock for me to be comfortable.

Elevation, Mileage, and Timing

In summary:

  • 8 hours and 40 minutes car to car
  • 14.18 miles
  • 6,965 feet of gain

I left the parking lot at 7:07 AM. Some time markers:

  • Meadows at 8:37 AM
  • Lower Saddle hose at 10:03 AM
  • Upper Saddle at 11:35 AM
  • Summit at 12:16 PM
  • Took 25 mins or so on the summit and headed back down
  • The OS downclimb to the Upper Saddle took about 30 minutes
  • Left my last break at Spalding Falls at 2:41 PM
  • Back to the car at 3:46 PM

The Strava recording is here.

Notes and Lessons Learned

  • I wore hiking pants but probably would have preferred running shorts and thin leggings. Not sure why I made this choice, but it wasn't the end of the world.
  • I wore only a sun shirt as a base layer, and took a running vest with a puffy (Arcteryx Cerium LT), softshell (OR Ferrosi), and very light hardshell (OR Helium). I used a buff, glove liners, and a hat to try to regulate heat on the way up, adding the softshell near the lower saddle. I regretted taking the hard shell at first but was happy to have it on the summit, and its only 6 oz. anyways.
  • Water refills at Spalding Falls and the Lower Saddle allowed me to go with only two 0.5 L flasks, which worked out perfectly. I stopped to refill at both spots in both directions (~5 L total for the day). I definitely could've gone with less but why be dehydrated when there was beautiful cold water right there. I only partially refilled at the Lower Saddle on the way down and finished with some extra water.
  • The downclimb through the OS was mostly fine. I wore trail running shoes (La Sportiva Kaptiva) and brought no other shoes. It was a tad spicy for a single move in the double chimney, mostly because I had to go down a less ideal way to give someone coming up some space. I did my best to keep the bottoms of my shoes dry and off snow and ice so I could trust the rubber. It was just barely patchy enough to do this.
  • In general the people on the OS were very skeptical of letting a soloist climb through, which was a little odd. The first party on the belly roll actually told me I couldn't climb through because they were waiting in line for the party in front of them? They were mostly cranky and cold from being in a conga line all morning I think. There were some friendly souls on the summit though :)
  • Big thanks to all the hikers on the lower section who let me jog out!
  • I had a poptart for breakfast, and on trail had a Spring Wolf Pack (350 cal), 1 Pro Bar Meal (380 cal), a full flask of Gu (~400 cal), and 4 Spring Speednut (1000 cal). Not counting "breakfast", about 2150 calories. I felt like the food was perfect.


Busy parking lot but I still managed to get a spot at 7 AM on a Sunday
Beautiful morning approaching Garnet Canyon
First views of Upper Garnet Canyon and the Middle Teton
Middle Teton gets closer, with the Black Dike visible
The Meadows
Looking up at the Lower Saddle from the Caves area
The eastern prow of Middle Teton
The Middle Teton and its glacier
Middle Teton Glacier
Looking down Garnet Canyon from the Lower Saddle. Disappointment Peak to the left.
Looking into Idaho to the west from the Lower Saddle
Climbers enjoying the view by the Upper Saddle
Start of the OS!
Either the Belly Roll or the Crawl, they seemed the same to me.
The view to the north from near the top of the OS
Looking down towards the Enclosure and Upper Saddle
Tired climbers
Smoky views
Stoic and cold summit photo
Trying to make friends
On the way down! Cruising from here.
The Grand, but mostly Teewinot, from the parking lot.