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 station further down the road. 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 2 miles, crossing a small wooden bridge, and reach the large parking area. The trail starts near the south side. You may have to get up early to ensure a parking spot on weekends.
Disappointment Peak is often overshadowed by the higher Teton peaks in the range. It is located directly east of the Grand Teton and blends in very well with its surroundings. When viewed from the northeast the mountain takes on a different appearance and is quite prominant. Two lakes are located on the east face of the mountain. They are Surprise and Amphitheater Lake which are both popular destinations for hikers. The mountain towers directly above the lakes and several obvious routes can be seen. The East Ridge forms the right side of the summit. The Lake Ledges are above Ampitheater Lake. The Spoon Coulior is left of the Lake Ledges and is a popular spring snow climb. To the left of the Spoon Couloir is the Southeast Ridge. It can be accessed from the ridge directly south of Amphitheater Lake.
The first ascent party included Phil Smith and Walter Harvey. They thought the Grand Teton could be climbed directly from Amphitheater Lake. When they reached the summit of Disappointment Peak they encountered the huge gap that seperates the two mountains. They named the mountain Disappointment Peak when they were unable to continue any farther because of the cliff on the mountain's west face. They were successful in making the first ascent of Disappointment Peak. The mountain is centrally located on the eastern side of the Tetons. Almost all of the major Teton Peaks can be seen from its summit. The route up the Southeast Ridge can be seen from the valley where current conditions can be observed.
The first ascent of the Southeast Ridge Route on Disappointment Peak was on August 12, 1935, by Perry Gilbert. The first winter ascent of the Southeast Ridge Route was by Glenn Vitucci in February 1985.
From the trailhead, hike for about 1.7 miles until you get to the junction with the Valley trail. Take the right trail and follow the signs to Surprise and Amphitheater Lake. You will eventually get to the major trail junction with Garnet Canyon which goes left. Take the trail that goes right signed for the lakes.
Follow this well maintained trail as it goes up nineteen switchbacks to Surprise Lake. Continue another ten minutes to Amphitheater Lake. Disappointment Peak can be seen directly above the lake. Cross the outlet and hike to the south side of the lake. There will be a climber's trail leading up to the ridge. Once you are on the ridge you will get a great view looking down into Garnet Canyon.
From the ridge go west up a climbers trail toward an obvious chimney in the cliff face. The cliff can be climbed anywhere with different degrees of difficulty but the chimney seemed to offer the easiest route. It appears to be very hard to climb because it has many chockstones wedged in it. Once you get closer you'll see a small tunnel in the backside of the first chockstone. We had to take our packs off to squeeze through it. Going up this was awkward but kind of fun. The second chockstone is overhanging and was passed by climbing rock on the left side. It isn't difficult in dry conditions but falling here wouldn't be good.
Once above these obstacles you will hike through a boulder filled gully. Now Disappointment Peak comes into view as the trail switchbacks up its east face. It is quite steep but the views are well worth it. The easiest route through the upper cliffs is on the right side of the summit ridge. There is a little 3rd class scrambling up the rockband. Don't walk too far west as there is an airy dropoff down the cliff face overlooking Glacier Gulch.
Disappointment Peak has one of the best views of the Tetons from the east. You can see all of the major Teton Peaks from the summit. To show you how close you are to the Grand Teton, I could hear them shouting climbing commands at each other, as if they were right next to me. The southeast ridge route is mostly a hike. Only two parts are considered scrambling. In guidebooks, the climb up the chimney is rated 4th class and the summit knob is rated 3rd class.
Elevation gain is 4,900 feet and hiking distance is 12 miles round trip.
Bring regular day hiking essentials and cold weather clothes. The ridgeline is usually windy. You will need plenty of food and water. If you take a filter you could just get water from Amphitheater Lake and not have to carry that much with you. Bring a good pair of hiking boots. In early season an ice ax and crampons are recommended.