Grand Teton National Park is approached from the south on US 89. Enter the park on Teton Park Road and turn at Moose Junction. You’ll have to pay at the entrance booth. You can also get here from the north in the vicinity of the Jackson Lake. Follow Teton Park Road until signs indicate the turn-off for the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, located just south of the Jenny Lake visitors center. Drive on the gravel road for about two miles, crossing a small wooden bridge, and reach the large dirt parking area. Park on the west side if there are parking spots, otherwise walk there.
Teewinot is part of the jagged group of mountains that make the Tetons so famous. It is also one of the dozen or so peaks in the range that is over 12,000 feet in elevation. Teewinot is part of the Cathedral Group which also includes the Grand Teton and Mount Owen. Many tourists who come to Grand Teton National Park often mistake it for the Grand Teton because it is so prominent when viewed from Jenny Lake visitor center. The entire route up the east face can be seen from the valley floor. Current conditions of the route can be studied beforehand.
The mountain was named during the first ascent. It was originally spelled as Tee-win-at and is a Shoshone Indian word meaning "many pinnacles". The name was once applied to the entire range. It is an interesting fact, on the first ascent in 1929, the route was much more difficult than it is today. In 1934, the upper part of the mountain fell from the large notch and debris tumbled all summer long. No one was able to climb up the coulior on the east face that year. The slope on the south summit ridge was reduced and falling rock piled up a gradient below. The former steep walls and slabs no longer existed.
The first ascent of the East Face Route on Teewinot was on August 14, 1929, by Fritiof Fryxell and Phil Smith. The first winter ascent of the East Face Route was by Kitty Calhoun and Len Wechter on February 11, 1982.
The East Face is the classic route up Teewinot. It begins from Lupine Meadows trailhead. The trail starts from the north end of the parking lot on the west side. There is no sign but the trail is obvious as it heads straight toward Teewinot. The trail meanders through the sagebrush flats. Once it gets to the base of the mountain it starts switchbacking relentlessly up the hillside. There are great views of the valley during the approach.
You should be able to see a waterfall to the left side of the trail. Most sources say there are about eighteen switchbacks ascending up to the apex but I counted more than that. You will know you are at the apex when you get close to timberline. It is one of the few relatively flat places on the entire route. You will get your first view of the east face from here. For people interested in camping there were a couple nice spots that had wind breaks.
From the apex, the trail climbs steeply up the ridge. You pass right beneath two prominent gendarmes known as the Idol and the Worshipper to your left. Soon you will be at the large east face snowfield that is so recognizable from the valley. I recommend using an ice ax here. By the end of summer, in some years, the snowfield has melted entirely and hiking is on talus and scree.
From the top of the snowfield, scramble up 3rd class rocks slabs. Traverse to the left towards the V-shaped gully. To the right of the gully is the crux pitch. This is rated as 4th class. It should be noted that in the Tetons, 4th class may include more difficult scrambling. Depending on where you start climbing, you'll probably encounter a few low 5th class moves with exposure. This section is steeper than it looks and more difficult to downclimb.
Once you make it to the top of this pitch there will usually be another snowfield above. The rock may be wet from melting snow. You can climb around it to the right on 3rd class rock. From there the route traverses toward the right side of the summit ridge. There is a climber's trail leading to it. From the top of the ridge you get your first view of the Teton Peaks and Cascade Canyon.
Go south along the narrow exposed ridgeline. You will be able to see straight down the west face. You can't see the top of the mountain until it is right in front of you. It is a spectacular summit that has room for one person. The view of Mount Owen and the north face of the Grand is one of the best in the Tetons.
The preferred descent is back down the east face. If you are doing a traverse with Mount Owen then your descent is west. From the summit, scramble back down to the top of the gully. You can down climb the more solid and steep rock to the north or the loose but easier rock in the gully. Some people choose to rappel this instead of down climbing it. The hike down the east face route is hard on the knees and legs but is easy once you get back down to the trail.
Elevation Gain - 5,550 feet, Round Trip Hiking Distance - 5 miles
Regular day hiking essentials.
Bring an ice ax for the snowfield if it is there. Check from the valley before your climb.
Crampons for the snowfield if it is there. The snow may already have steps kicked in by other climbers. It's a good idea to bring them if conditions are icy or early in the season.
A rope, slings, and light gear rack if you are not comfortable on exposed 4th class and low 5th class rock. You may want to bring it to rappel down the steepest parts of the route.
Approach shoes are helpful on the upper part of the mountain.
Climbing helmet because of all the loose rock.
There have been some accidents and fatalities on the east face snowfield. The most common accident is people losing control and falling all the way down the snowfield. Other fatalities have been from people hiking alone and falling into holes in the snow and not being able to climb out. People have also fallen while down climbing the crux. Use caution and be careful.
Early Season Avalanches
Information provided by SP member Anneka -- Be extremely cautious when climbing the east face up until early July. A good friend of mine was nearly killed when he was buried in one of many avalanches they encountered in late June. The steep angle and loose snow is extremely hazardous early in the season.