South Teton is the third jewel of The Tetons and compliments The Middle and The Grand well. Although not as conspicuous as the other peaks, it is no less important in the overall magnificence and history of the range. The three Tetons: Grand, Middle, and South were named in the 1800's by French Trappers of the Hudson Bay Company. They called them Les Trois Tetons, which meant “the three breasts.” Early native American Indians of the Shoshone tribe called the range “Hoary Headed Fathers.”
The South Teton is the fifth highest peak in the Teton range and offers several moderate routes to the summit including several non-technical routes. This makes the South Teton a popular destination for all types of hikers and climbers. The first ascent of the South Teton was via the Northwest Couloir on August 29, 1923 by Albert Ellingwood and Eleanor Davis.
Sources and contributors to this page include:
"A Climber's Guide To The Teton Range" by Leigh N. Ortenburger and Reynold G. Jackson
"Teewinot", the official information guide of Grand Teton National Park
Alan Ellis (mtntrail2)
The South Teton is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming inside Grand Teton National Park. From the north entrance of the park, drive south 28.5 miles to Moran Junction on highway 191. From Moran Junction, continue south on highway 191 for 18 miles to Moose Junction where you turn right (west). From Jackson, Wyoming, drive north 12 miles on highway 191 to Moose Junction and turn left (west). At Moose Junction, drive about seven miles to the sign for Lupine Meadows Trailhead. Turn left and follow the road about a mile to the trailhead. Expect a lot of cars at this trailhead. This is the most popular trail to the South Teton and the standard route to the summit. From Lupine Meadows Trailhead (6732 ft) follow the trail up through Garnet Canyon. At 1.7 miles the trail forks. Stay right and continue for 1.5 miles where the trail forks again. Go left, following the signs to Garnet Canyon. After 1.1 miles, the Platforms (8960 ft) campsites are reached. Shortly after, the trail crosses a moraine field and reaches the Meadows (9200 ft) camping area after another 1.0 miles. A trail forks to the south at the Meadows and climbs the south fork of Garnet Canyon to the saddle (10,560 ft) between South and Middle Tetons. Most routes can be accessed from the saddle. The South Teton is also accessible from the south fork of Cascade Canyon and Avalanche Canyon. See flyman's West Ridge Route for information on the approach from Cascade Canyon.
These are the most noteworthy routes with first ascent (FA).
Northwest Couloir: Class 4, II. The standard route to the summit begins at the saddle between the South and Middle Tetons. FA by Albert Ellingwood and Eleanor Davis on August 29, 1923.
West Ridge: Class 4, II. Another moderate route accessible from the Teton Crest Trail. FA by Paul Petzoldt on August 21, 1924.
North Face: 5.6, II. One of the few technical lines, this route has approximately seven pitches. Icy/wet conditions are common. FA by Yvon Chouinard and William Mason on July 19, 1957.
South Teton is located inside Grand Teton National Park. There is a $20.00 entrance fee to the park which will also get you into Yellowstone. No permits or fees are required to climb; however, a check-in with the Jenny Lake Ranger Station is recommended. Permits are needed for backcountry camping if using a high camp. Free permits are available at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station on a first come, first served basis. A limited number of permits can be made in advance by submitting your request in writing to the address or FAX number below. Reservations may be made as early as January 1 and are accepted up to May 15. Although the permit is free, there is a $15.00 non-refundable reservation fee. For more information call (307) 739-3397 or (307) 739-3309. Even though you have a reserved permit, you must pick up your permit in person by 10:00 am the morning of your trip or they will make it available to others.
Grand Teton National Park
P.O. Drawer 170
Moose, WY 83012
FAX: (307) 733-7271
When To Climb
June through early September is considered the summer season. August generally provides the most stable weather pattern. July is the driest summer month while June is the wettest. That average is derived over several years. It can storm and rain for days on end during any month. Like typical Rockies weather, the Tetons are notorious for violent afternoon thunderstorms, so get an early start. Plan on being off the mountain by early afternoon. However, it has also been known to storm and snow at any time of day on any given day. Sometimes the weather clears and high pressure moves in for several days of storm-free climbing. Check here for current weather conditions.
South Teton is also climbed in the dead of winter by experienced winter mountaineers. The first winter ascent was via the Northeast Couloir on January 22, 1968 by Rick Horn, Gary Cole, Frank Ewing, Denny Becker, Greg Bourassa, Peter Koedt, Keith Becker, John Walker, Don Ryan, and John Horn. Check here for current winter and avalanche conditions. The winter number for Jenny Lake Ranger Station is (307) 739-3309.
Although the South Teton can be climbed in one day from the Lupine Meadows trailhead, a high camp is recommended if you wish to fully appreciate the mountain. The Meadows (closest) and the Platforms backcountry campsites are the ideal sites for camping before summit day. Both of these sites require a backcountry permit. Since these campsites also serve the Grand Teton and the Middle Teton, they are busy and early reservations are recommended. See the Red Tape section for permit information.
Grand Teton National Park has five campgrounds all on a first come, first served basis. Jenny Lake campground has 49 sites for tents only and fills very fast. Other campgrounds: Gros Ventre - 360 sites, Signal Mountain - 86 sites, Colter Bay - 350 sites, Flagg Ranch - 175 sites, and Lizard Creek - 60 sites. Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch each have over 100 full RV hookup sites.
The best option to camping before your climb is to stay at the American Alpine Club's Climber’s Ranch located 7 miles past Moose Junction on Teton Park Road. The Ranch offers very rustic accommodations for only $8/per night. Very rustic means you bring your own bedding, mattress, etc., and you will be sharing a cabin with other climbers. Showers and a cooking area are available. Lodging is on a first come, first served basis but a limited number of reservations are accepted. They only accept reservations after June 1. Send your reservation information including number in party, dates of reservation, number of nights staying, and your email address to the below address. Include in your letter a check for $8.00/night/person and $20.00 for a reservation fee. Two separate reservations require two $20.00 reservation fees. Do not send your letter via overnight mail. They do not accept credit cards. Climbing Ranch telephone number (303) 384-0110. You do not have to be a member of the American Alpine Club to stay there.
Grand Teton Climbing Ranch
P.O. Box 57
Moose, WY 83012
All routes are in an alpine environment. Expect any type of conditions any time of the year, including, storms, snow, and ice. Temperatures can vary from moderate to sub-freezing. Late July into early August is considered the best month to climb with the least average precipitation. Rock fall is very common in the Tetons and South Teton is no exception. Tree line is at approximately 9000 ft. The Jenny Lake Ranger Station is the headquarters for Teton climbing. Call the ranger station at (307) 739-3343 (summer) or (307) 739-3309 (winter) for current conditions. Here is a webcam shot of the Tetons.
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