Since watching Kilian and Tony all over the interwebs blasting up the Owen Spalding route (5.4) last summer, this one has been on my radar, not least since I've always admired the Grand as a beautiful peak, and have a pic of it hanging in my office.
We decided to make a trip of it before Leadville, and the high camp at over 10,000ft on the moraines provided perfect acclimatization. And what a spot to camp - just incredible, and a huge adventure for Saira, myself and the boys. I did a recce of the route on our first day, run/scrambling up to the upper saddle. I have to say the upper section was looking a bit intimidating at first sight, but the next day I was able to make it up to the summit alone, without too much difficulty. I would say 5.4 is a push, as the route is mostly a hard scramble, but the exposure is HUGE!!
Crux - definitely the belly roll. The initial chimney after the crawl is easy, but a slip here would be costly. The summit is really quite incredible, and it was cool to arrive up top in the sun in a pair of shorts, with a handheld bottle, and be greeted with some odd (disdainful?) looks from the mountain guides and their clients, who'd taken half a day to get there.
I think I was back at camp in under 3 hours for the round trip, at a relatively relaxed pace. Next time, I'll go for the car to summit to car push. Looking forward to that one!
For anyone interested in this route, by far the best resource I came across was
You'll find great route descriptions and photos, some videos and current conditions. Enjoy some of my photos below.
|Approach up the zig zags|
|Stellar camp on the moraines below the lower saddle (centre top)|
|It looks rough, but we had super comfy, flat platforms for our tents|
And check out my 360 here: http://360.io/QtHe4h
|View down from the lower saddle|
|Heading up from the lower saddle on my evening recce|
|The chockstone Chimney. The Eye of the Needle is up and right|
|This is where the real climbing starts. The route essentially heads across the obvious ledge, leftwards|
|The Belly Roll, and the crux in my opinion. Big exposure below!|
|If you fall, it's a long way down|
|The crawl - an easy but exposed hand traverse|
|I took this pic from the Crawl on the way down|
|Summit view - and check this out! http://360.io/kt7CPv|
|Back at camp|
|Saira, brewing up!|
|Our lower camp in the meadows below Middle Teton|
|Bert enjoying the evening sun below Middle Teton|
|Definitely an adventure for the boys!|