Wyoming, United States
Grand Teton is the highest mountain within Grand Teton National Park, and at 13,770 feet (4197 m), the second highest in the U.S. state of Wyoming. The origin of the name is controversial. The most common explanation is that "Grand Teton" means "large teat" in French, named by either French-Canadian or Iroquois members of an expedition led by Donald McKenzie of the North West Company. However, other historians disagree, and claim that the mountain was named after the Teton Sioux tribe of Native Americans.
There is a disagreement over who first climbed Grand Teton. Nathaniel P. Langford and James Stevenson claimed to have reached the summit on July 29, 1872. However, their description and sketches match the summit of The Enclosure, a side peak of Grand Teton. The Enclosure is named after a man-made palisade of rocks on its summit, probably constructed by Native Americans. When William O. Owen reached the true summit in 1898, he found no trace of prior human passage. In all likelihood, The Enclosure was first climbed by Native Americans, while the true summit was first climbed by Owen.
Grand Teton can be climbed with minimal gear via the Owen-Spalding Route (II, 5.4). However, it is highly exposed and experience is recommended. The Owen-Spalding route is named for the climbers who made the first claimed ascent: William Owen, Franklin Spalding, Frank Peterson, and John Shive. There is some debate as to which person made the first ascent, but most agree this group was the first. Their route begins at the Upper Saddle which is reached by walking from Lupine Meadows Trailhead, up Garnet Canyon, to the Lower Saddle.
The most popular route up the mountain is finished via the Upper Exum Ridge Route (II, 5.5) on the Exum Ridge, a 13-pitch exposed route first climbed by Glenn Exum, co-founder of Exum Mountain Guides. The direct start of the Exum Ridge using the Lower Exum Ridge Route (III, 5.7,) is considered a mountaineering classic and is featured in the historic climbing text Fifty Classic Climbs of North America. In addition to the The Direct Exum Ridge Route, the classic guidebook also features the North Ridge (IV, 5.8) and North Face with Direct Finish (IV, 5.8), both of which ascend the dramatic northern aspect of the peak. The Grand Teton has the most routes listed in the Fifty Classic Climbs of North America of any peak. The only other to have more than one route listed is El Capitan, with The Nose and Salathé Wall. These inclusions have helped maintain the fame of the peak in the climbing community. Since the Tetons' first ascent, 38 routes with 58 variations have been established.
The Grand Teton has been skied by three routes, each requiring at least one rappel. The first descent on skis was made by Bill Briggs in the spring of 1971 down the Ford Couloir; a route near the Owen-Spalding is now named in his honor.