Not really knowing where we were going, Mike Weber and I solo downclimbed the Upper Exum after climbing the Smith Otter Body route on the south side. We had intended to do the Exum but got off track above the caves (no trail back then) and ended up on the Teepe Glacier so we picked route 11 that isn't described in Ortenburger's condensed guide and just went for what looked like the best way up. Underestimating the scale of the Grand, we spent an unplanned bivy at 13,000'. On our way down the next morning a climbing ranger told us that the route (The Smith) had not had a repeat ascent in over 20 years. We came back two years later and soloed the Upper Exum from the bottom up.
what a difference the sun makes!
A.J. and i froze our butts(and feet) off during the golden staircase and wind tunnel pitches while being trapped in the shade with the wind howling. things got considerably better on the higher friction and V-notch pitches when we finally reached the sun!
all in all an awesome experience i'll never forget. can't wait to try some other routes on the grand and surrounding mountains!
So, after you go a bit up from the saddle, traverse into the net big draw, since if you keep going up, you miss "wall street" and then need to descend to it to do the upper Exum.....Exum is a fantastic climb, exposed, and straightforward. Very worth it!
Summer conditions allowed many groups to ascend the Upper Exum on this day. One particular busy spot on the route turned my climb into a 5.7 as the easier path was already full of ropes from other groups. V Pitch was also in use so we took the layback option at the arete to the right--easy but airy. Enjoyed every bit of the climbing. Awesome route! Fun rappel and climb down the O-S, too.
I love the step across at the end of Broadway. Good rock, big exposure, and fun easy climbing. must be a classic
Nice ridge and always a classic
..rock and beautiful views. Decended in a complete white-out and took nearly 3 hours to get back to the lower saddle. We couldn't see 10 feet which makes route finding more than a little challenging. It snowed nearly 4" on the lower saddle that afternoon and it was still August.
Fun, easy going route.
Great route with alot of fun climbing and exposure!
And read what spenceinboulder says below.
What more needs to be said?
Missed V-pitch; did a more strenuous variation. Sense of history matched quality of rock. Amazing! I still talk about it.
Partner: Steve Reynolds
Classic climb in every sense! The climbing would have been easy if many of the holds had not been covered in ice and snow. A great experience in alpine climbing.
Exposure was fun; not very difficult.
John Walsh, Stew Patrignani, Lisa Jennings and I, had what amounts to a "Classic" ascent of the upper Exum route. We started at six am from the lower saddle. This brought us to the summit at 8 pm. I say "Classic", because like for many others, route finding was one of our significant obstacles. As we neared the top of the ridge we entered a dark slightly overhanging alcove with an 'improbable' looking exit. At this point, we retreated one pitch and moved to our right away from the ridgeline (which, we would later learn was the correct line). Overall, our climb went well and I felt that the above was the only significant error in route finding on the way up. However, the real fun begins on the descent. From the top one downscrambles to the "Catwalk" and the first 120' rappel. This leads to a second rappel of another 120' (roughly) to the upper end of what we thought was the 'right way' down. It wasn't until quite a bit of downscrambling and the approach of darkness that we were certain that the true descent lie to our right (to the west?) a couple of other gulllies. By and by, we got back to camp at 12 midnight, after 18 hours. Sadly, two other parties were still coming down behind us. In the morning the climbing ranger and one of the Exum guides said they we're watching our progress down the wrong gully. They said it was a "classic" mistake, but they were happy that everyone returned safely.
This route truly deserves it's classic status.
Despite the upper Exum Ridge being technically very easy, a lot of parties get intimidated by the exposure, over-protect the route, move too slowly, and get caught in PM rain showers. The route is a great exercise in balancing the desire to place pro with the desire to move fast, hance making it a great route to cut your teeth on for bigger alpine and rock challenges.
I took the climbing classes, plunked down my money and was lucky to get Herb Swendlund for a guide. Only afterwards did I realize my climb was almost exactly 100 years after Langford and Stevenson first climbed The Grand.