Topping out at 13,776 feet above sea level, The Grand Teton rises above Jackson Hole as the most prominent peak in the already stunning Teton Range. To anyone who’s set foot on the valley floor, these jagged peaks are a constant reminder of why we climb mountains – because they’re there.
The Owen Spalding Route, which is the most common route up the Grand Teton, is about 14 miles round trip, with 7000 feet of elevation change. For every mile, a climber is going up or down 1000 feet. While there’s minimal class 5 climbing, there’s still substantial exposure, so if an unroped climber falls, consequences are high. If a climber hires a guided service, it can take anywhere from two to four days to go base to summit to base. Some Jackson locals climb it in a day with an early alpine start, while others with a penchant for misery do it twice in a single day.
Back in 2012, Kilian Jornet broke a 30 year long standing speed record on the Grand Teton by doing the whole thing, base to summit to base, in 2:54. He allegedly short cut a few switchbacks on the Lupine Meadows Trail, so there was a debate amongst the climbing community as to the legitimacy of the effort. Luckily, that debate only raged for 11 days. Fewer than two weeks after Kilian Jornet set his record, a climbing ranger by the name of Andy Anderson finished in 2:53.02. No shortcuts.
That record still stands today, six years later. However, one Jackson transplant by the name of Stephen Mulherin is setting out to take the speed record as his own. Watch the video below to learn about the effort that goes into training for a speed record on the Grand.
Good luck Stephen!
*Video courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort