Photo: AAC member Brad Schwarm

Photo: AAC member Brad Schwarm

The Grand Teton Climbers' Ranch History

The Grand Teton Climbers’ Ranch opened in 1970 under a Special Use Permit granted by the National Park Service to the American Alpine Club for the establishment of a "Mountain Climbing Center" in Grand Teton National Park. That original Special Use Permit specifically recognized that "mountain climbing is one of the principal visitor recreational uses in Grand Teton." The Climbers’ Ranch thus became the successor to the famous Jenny Lake climbers’ camp, which had been used by Tetons climbers from the 1950s until its closure in 1966.

The Climbers’ Ranch is located four miles inside the entrance to Grand Teton National Park at Moose, Wyoming, about 20 miles north of the town of Jackson. The ranch occupies a sanctuary at the end of a winding lane off Teton Park Road, across a bridge spanning Cottonwood Creek, and nestled against the high glacial moraine impounding Taggart and Bradley Lakes. Base altitude at the ranch is nearly 6,700 feet. Three miles north is Jenny Lake, the epicenter of the Park for both climbers and tourists, and the location of the Jenny Lake Ranger Station, at which expert information about technical climbing routes throughout the Park can be secured. The central peaks of the Teton Range, including the Grand, Middle, and South Tetons, Cloudveil Dome, Nez Perce, Mt. Owen, Teewinot, and other high alpine peaks can be approached on trails directly from the ranch. There are 10 peaks and multiple pinnacles in the Teton Range over 12,000 feet high.

In it’s original life, the Climbers’ Ranch was known as the Double Diamond Dude Ranch, which opened in 1924 and remained in operation either as a dude ranch or tourist camp through 1964, when Grand Teton National Park acquired the property. In 1985 the Taggart Lake/Beaver Creek Fire destroyed half of the original structures on the property. The ranch was resurrected through the cooperation of the Park Service and the American Alpine Club. The Ortenburger Cabin is so-­named since it is the first cabin brought to the property after the fire, through the efforts of Leigh Ortenburger, a prominent member of the AAC and author of A Climber’s Guide to the Teton Range. The Historic Lodge, constructed in the late 1920s and enlarged in 1945, originally served as the Double Diamond dining hall, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.