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SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS - SEPTEMBER 9, 2020

The Range from the Teton Park Road on 9.9.20

Monday night's storm in the Tetons (which called for 2-4" on the Grand) exceeded the forecast significantly with over 5" of wet, heavy snow in areas around Jenny Lake in the valley. Despite sunny weather yesterday, temperatures were well below freezing in the valley last night and the mountains in Grand Teton remain coated in snow and ice. Climbers interested in summiting the Grand in the coming week should not expect to find favorable conditions. Although some lower elevation rock climbs on sunny aspects may dry out towards the weekend, expect anything up high to hold snow and ice for several days. North-facing aspects may provide alpine conditions for the remainder of the year depending on weather in the coming weeks.

The Jenny Lake Ranger station is now closed for the season. Permits are still required for any overnight stays in the backcountry. The permit offices at the Craig Thomas visitor center in Moose and the Colter Bay visitor center remain open from 9am-5pm daily.

As we enter the fall season in Grand Teton, the nights are getting cold and the days are getting shorter. Be prepared for alpine conditions in the mountains, and be sure to leave the trail head with adequate gear, clothing, and a headlamp.

CHANGING SEASONS - SEPTEMBER 4, 2020

 
Jenny Lake rangers in technical rescue training last week, Disappointment Peak

As we transition into September, conditions on the high peaks have remained primarily dry and favorable. Labor Day weekend is shaping up to be busy in the backcountry, with lots of climbers and hikers taking advantage of the good weather. However, with rain and snow in the forecast for the beginning of next week, conditions are likely to begin changing in the mountains as we move toward the fall season.

Climbers attempting popular routes on the Grand such as the Owen-Spalding and Exum Ridge should be prepared for shifting weather, unexpected alpine conditions, and cold nights which can produce ice and verglas on shady aspects. Weather and climbing conditions in the Tetons can change rapidly with each passing storm. Adequate preparation, appropriate gear, and self sufficiency are of the upmost importance when venturing into the mountains, especially during this time of year.

The Jenny Lake ranger station will close for the season at end of day, September 7th. The staff will make an effort to update conditions for the Grand and other popular peaks throughout the remainder of the month, however, expect alpine conditions in the mountains as we move toward the end of summer.


IT'S PEAK SEASON - AUGUST 13, 2020

 Paintbrush Divide - 7.30.20

As of mid-August, the backcountry of Grand Teton is bustling, and popular camping zones throughout the Teton Crest Trail and Garnet Canyon are filling up every day. Hikers and climbers hoping to receive walk-in permits for backcountry itineraries should plan to be at the permit office or Jenny Lake ranger station as early as possible the day before they want to begin their trip to ensure they have the most options for their trip.

Lingering snow in typical problem areas is finally beginning to recede. The entirety of the Teton Crest Trail is now essentially snow free. Paintbrush Divide, which required an ice axe for safe passage as little as a week ago, is now navigable without an ice axe. With that being said, lower angle snow patches still exist and trekking poles may be helpful when crossing these areas. Avoid the upper early season boot pack that still exists as it presents an unnecessary steep snow crossing that has been the site of two serious accidents this season. The approach to the Lower Saddle and routes like the Owen-Spalding and Exum Ridge are now free of snow and passable without ice axe or crampons. Be mindful of changing weather in the coming weeks. Afternoon thunder storms should be expected, and any combination of recent precipitation and cold temperatures up high can provide wet and icy conditions despite any given climb being described as "dry" or "snow free."

The closure of Baxter's Pinnacle for nesting peregrine falcons has been lifted.  It is open for climbing traffic.

TRAILS AND PEAKS ARE MELTING OUT, BUT SNOW REMAINS - JULY 21, 2020

Jenny Lake ranger Cody Evans on the North Ridge of the Grand on 7.21.20

Following a long stretch of warm, dry weather in early-mid July, expect snow free conditions throughout the majority of trails and canyons in Grand Teton National Park. Most backcountry camping zones are now primarily melted out. Along the Teton Crest Trail, most of the camping zones are dry, and the mountain passes (with the major exception of Paintbrush Divide) are now navigable without the use of an ice axe. With that being said, steep snow travel is unavoidable at Paintbrush Divide, and requires an ice axe and proper knowledge of its use for safe passage along the divide. Hikers should not underestimate the seriousness of this terrain.

On the Grand and other high peaks, snow is melting out rapidly and conditions on many routes are now dry and nearly snow free. An ice axe is no longer warranted above the Lower Saddle for popular routes like the Owen-Spalding and Lower and Upper Exum. The fixed line is now being utilized by most parties to approach the Lower Sadle. It is primarily melted out, but snow remains at the base of the lines where an additional fixed rope provides some security. For experienced parties familiar with the approach, an ice axe and/or crampons are no longer needed. Be mindful of changing conditions on rock climbs at higher elevations and shady aspects following recent storms. The Owen-Spalding, for example, has been dry in recent days, but new precipitation and cold temperatures can produce verglas and icy conditions that may be difficult to navigate without the proper equipment. When in doubt, bring the gear.

At higher elevations, expect snow to linger in typical problem areas and shadier aspects, with potential for wet rock and verglas on north and west facing walls in particular. Parties interested in completing the Cathedral or Grand Traverses should expect steep snow navigation in spots, wet rock, potential for icy conditions, and other alpine challenges.