Southwest Couloir

Page Type
Wyoming, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
Class 3-4

Route Quality: 13 Votes

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Southwest Couloir
Created On: Apr 5, 2003
Last Edited On: Aug 29, 2009


This is the most popular route on the Middle Teton and most parties opt for this route. Follow directions for the approach to Garnet Canyon. Continue up Garnet Canyon to The Meadows. At the meadows take the south (left) fork. Climb the left fork of Garnet Canyon ALL the way to the saddle between South Teton and Middle Teton at 11,450 ft. The climb to the saddle generally stays to the right (north) side of the drainage. Several parties have made the mistake of turning north into one of many south-facing couloirs. You'll know you have gone far enough to the saddle when one if not several things happen: 1) Iceflow Lake is visible 2) A solid gust of wind greets you from the south and west or 3) One more step would mean a precipitous drop of a thousand feet.

Route Description

SW Couloir from Saddle

From the saddle between the South and Middle Tetons at 11,450 ft begin ascending the ridge. Snow remains along this section of the ridge year round most years. Depending upon conditions you may ascend the snow or scramble broken ledges to reach a small, flat area along the ridge at 11,750 ft.

SW Couloir flat area

From the flat area at 11,750 ft the SW couloir is now completely visible. Follow a climber's trail and enter the lower section of the couloir.

Middle Teton SW

Around 12,000 ft the couloir begins to narrow. Stay to the right at 12,300 ft and climb a steep narrow Class 3 section. There is alot of loose rock and a helmet is advisable.

Middle Teton SW
Middle Teton SW

Past the narrow Class 3 section at 12,550 ft angle left (north) and climb mixed Class 2-3 terrain to reach the ridge at 12,650 ft.

Middle Teton SW

To the north is a spectacular view of the Grand Teton and below you is the Middle Teton Glacier. From the ridge begin climbing steady Class 3 terrain. At times the ridge may feel a bit airy and may feel like Class 4 depending upon your line of ascent. Careful routefinding can keep the scramble to Class 3. Scramble the remaining 150 ft to reach the summit at 12,804 ft.

In early season or winter ascents an ice axe and crampons may be/are necessary. The lower section of the couloir offers no particular challenge in mid-late season other than rockfall danger. This is a popular route with plenty of traffic and plenty of loose scree and boulders. Proper preparation and precaution should be taken.

Essential Gear

These are the Tetons and one should approach with respect. Ice axe, crampons, and helmet are advisable along with knowledge of how to use them. Conditions change daily in the Tetons. Be prepared.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Southwest Couloir

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