Exum Arete (direct), 5.10c, 4 Pitches

Exum Arete (direct), 5.10c, 4 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 43.58608°N / 110.8685°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.10c (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Sign the Climber's Log


Dow leading the upper arete
Dow leading the upper arete

Rock Springs Buttress would represent a typical rock-climbing crag in the Canadian Rockies, granite that has the look and feel of hardened limestone nestled up high in a beautiful alpine setting.  The Boulder and Salt Lake City crowd would of course consider the approach arduous, but it is a pleasant couple thousand feet gain on a good hiking trail, much of which follows a drainage. 

Park in a free (2022) parking lot behind the Teton Mountain Lodge at the ski resort, not far from the gondola.  Hike up a residential paved road (McCollister) from the parking lot to a dead end with several residences.  Locate a spur single track trail through the tall grass on the left.  Hike up this trail as it hits a ski slope road.  Turn left on this and hike to its dead end where there is a marked sign for the Yurt Trail.  Follow the Yurt Trail all the way until even with the “central” (largest) obvious wall of Rock Springs Buttress.  Traverse the rock moraine north to the base of the wall.  From the trail, you will get a clear view of a major cleft on the left side of a parapet or tower.  The first pitch climbs in this cleft for a full 200’ to a large ledge below the upper face of this separated parapet feature.  An interestingly shaped live (2022) tree is growing out of the base of it.  It has long exposed roots dangling out of it.  However, there is a lower direct start (5.10c).  Either way, the route can easily be climbed in three pitches vs four as the FAer’s have laid out (if experienced at proper extension of pro).  After you land atop the "parapet", start the arete climbing on the right side of this feature to the very top where there are modern (2022) rap anchors.

Route Description

1st Pitch- 200 (+)-5.10c/ This direct variation starts approximately 60’ below and climbers right of the 5.7 starting pitch.  Once you locate the interesting tree root system growing out of the traditional start, hike downslope and locate a line of bolts on the lower face.  This pitch is 5.9 except for the crux steep section mid-way up (after the 6th clip).  For several meters, you stem through bolts on steep to slightly overhanging ground, then the pitch eases up again.  To actually belay off of the closest fixed rap on the broad ledge above with a 60m rope, the second will have to simul for a bit on easy ground. 

2nd  -3rd Pitches- 180’-5.9+/ Move the belay right to the left side of the parapet.  Scramble up this wide section making a 5.7 move to exit onto a nice ledge with a fixed rap below the upper face and arete of the upper tower above.  Continue past this fixed rap up a decent hand and finger crack and continue past the next fixed rap as well to belay on a decent small ledge with yet another fixed rap.  I never felt a 5.9+ move, just fun and positive 5.9 climbing.  MP.com has quite a few comments about this pitch being more difficult than rated (“sandbag arete”), but those folks are either off route or just not use to climbing at elevation.  Bolts and gear.

3rd - 4th Pitches- 170’-5.9+/ A bit more gear on this pitch than the previous.  By far the best pitch of the route.  You start on the right arete, but much of the climbing is on the center of this narrowing face. Follow the bolts along with placing small gear and pull several small roofs/bulges as you near the tower summit.  The last roof looks daunting, but you traverse right on a good finger rail and surmount a much smaller roof to the fixed rap above (the only semi hanging belay if you follow my description vs three if you follow MP.com’s suggestions to pitch it out in four). 

Climbing Sequence

1st Pitch (direct)
1st Pitch (direct)
3rd Pitch
3rd Pitch


You can rap the route, but it is more efficient to rap straight down via four 60m single rope raps.  We had a 55m rope and the middle two raps were exactly that.  Rap to a relatively new fixed rap with rings and coordelette on bolts. Make a full 55m single rope rap to a chossy shelf on the east side of the parapet.  Modern bolts with carabiners.  Make another full 55m single rope rap straight down to a hidden set of fixed nuts with a sling and biners (2022).  Make a final single rope rap to the ground.

Essential Gear

The MP.com gear call was excessive.  A single to #.75 plus a small selection of off set cams or wires is sufficient for the competent leader.  If combining pitches as I have done, at least a dozen alpine draws.  Wall faces southwest.  60m rope.  Plenty of running water on approach.