Chouinard Ridge

Page Type
Wyoming, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
One to two days
II 5.4, Possible Steep Snow

Route Quality: 6 Votes

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71.06% Score
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Chouinard Ridge
Created On: Aug 12, 2003
Last Edited On: Aug 16, 2003


The grade and difficulty are the only two similarities between this route and the Upper Exum of the Grand Teton. For those looking for more climbing and adventure, the Chouinard Ridge is the answer. You won't find any other climbers or signs of their passing as found on the Exum. There is some route finding to get to the base of the climb and the climbing is more commiting and sustained for the grade. All of this adds to the adventure of this climb. Although the rock was a little dirty due to such little traffic, it was still very solid and asthetic.

Start from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead and follow the trail to The Meadows at about 9600 ft. in Garnet Canyon. From the Meadows follow a faint climbers trail into the South Fork of the Garnet Canyon to the south of Middle Teton. When you get to about 11,000 ft. in the South Fork you can look north towards Middle Teton and locate the large Ellingwood Coulior that seperates Middle Teton from Dike Pinnacle to the east. Just to the west of the larger Ellingwood Coulior is the smaller South Coulior of Middle Teton. The ridge bounding the South Coulior on the left (west) is the Chouinard Ridge. To get to the base of the climb you should hike to the base of the Ellingwood Coulior from the South Fork and climb the coulior to where the South Coulior branches to the left. At this point locate a broad bench to the left which leads out to the bottom of the Chouinard Ridge.

Route Description

The actual climbing route is the path of least resistance on the ridge above to where it intersects the SW Ridge route while staying as close as possible to the ridge crest.

Most of the difficulties can be passed on the left (west) side of the ridge crest. When the Chouinard Ridge finally intersects the SW Ridge you can then either follow this ridge to the North Summit which is the higher of the two or you can cross over the SW Ridge into the SW Coulior and continue the 200 feet to the summit.

Descent from the summit back to the South Fork is easiest down the SW Coulior which is the wide obvious coulior looking down towards Iceflow Lake.

It is important to follow the coulior all the way to the lowest point on the South-Middle Teton Saddle. Do NOT be tempted to cut left into the South Fork too early as this puts you on extremely steep terrain. Once you are at the lowest point on the saddle you can follow the South Fork back to the Meadows and the trailhead.

One can also take in South Teton and even traverse to Nez Perce while crossing over numerous spires and summits including Cloudveil Dome, Icecream Cone etc.

Essential Gear

A small rack consisting of stoppers, cams and long runners. A single 60m rope and a helmet.

Beta Photos

Due to the location and angle of the climb, one cannot get a good look at the ridge from anywhere in South Fork. The book " A Climbers Guide to the Teton Range" has great photos of the route that were taken from both the air and the neighboring Cloudveil Dome, which I have not been on.

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DougHemken - Aug 25, 2010 2:56 pm - Hasn't voted

Many options

I would rate this route III 5.4-5.6.

There are two options for getting started, up the Ellingwood & South Couloirs as described here, or up a low-angle groove/chimney to the left. The latter had several bail slings, and a lot of running water during our late season attempt. My partners opted not to bring axes, so that was our best option that day. Went back the next week with a different partner, better weather, and axes and crampons - I *much* preferred the standard couliors approach.

If you start via the Ellingwood Coulior, it is fairly natural to stay right for the initial 700 feet of the route, and just 3rd class it. However, our previous attempt showed us that there is plenty of good rock closer to the ridge crest which is low 5th class. Your choice.

About halfway up you come to the "inside corner" described in Ortenburger & Jackson's guidebook, a 25-30 foot step that is low 5th class (we actually 3rd classed it before we realized where we were). Above this point you want to more seriously try to stay near the ridge crest - we found about 8 X 60 meter pitches, mostly on or to the right of the ridge crest.

If you continue up the beautiful orange-gold buttress just above the inside corner, you will skip the first of the "caves" described in Ortenburger and Jackson.

It took us about 16 hours, car to car.

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Chouinard Ridge

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