Trip Report: Tickle Mary’s Nipple, WY — Why Not?

Paulie | | Trip ReportTrip Report
Arguably the best breakfast view for miles. Photo: P.M.Fadden

Report from Wednesday, June 10th 2020

The itch had set in about two days prior.

Spring had finally squared-up against Old Man Winter, and a seasonal battle royale took over the Teton Valley climate. Sunny day haymakers countered snowstorm jabs. Weathermen marked the fronts like a bookie takes odds at Vegas. Was this is how June ought to feel?

Mary’s in her full glory–much early in the season. Photo: P.M.Fadden

The Russian Roulette of selecting cloths to suit the day does nothing to tamp the feeling of waking to views of the Tetons. Those granite bad boys are an ultimate motivator, and rising high from their front range is the locally loved, and easily reachable Mary’s Nipple. It’s a peak to satiate the inner seeker, a backcountry caliber line with a killer panorama, and a fine perch to take breakfast.

Would conditions be epic? unlikely. Would it be worth it? Hell yes.

Grand Targhee at rest before bike mania grips these same hills. Photo: P.M.Fadden

Mary’s is adjacent to the one and only Grand Targhee Resort, atop a National Forest of that same name. Mark it on the recreation-radar. More often than not the place is fat is with snow, but it is June. Even with the recent not-so-freak snowstorm there are still wide, dry pathways winding right to the tops–and Mary’s Nipple.

Mary’s Nipple Details:

  • Summit Elevation: 9920′

  • Car: 7400′

  • Vert. from Car: 2450′

  • Vertical Skied: 750′ (at best)

  • Time from Car to Summit: 95min.

  • Ride Time: 6min. (rounding up)

  • Recommended Equipment: Sunblock, Decent Camera, Great Attitude

  • Tertiary Elements: Wildlife, 2nd Degree Sunburn, Pure Contentment


For maximized results it’s advisable to start early. Enjoy deer spotting while cruising up the Grand Targhee access road. Kit-out in the all-but-empty carpark. Begin what amounts to a leisurely stroll leading all the way to the tops.

Only once is the smooth way forward hampered. Surprise drifts, heavy and hip-deep have draped themselves across the final few hundred feet before Mary’s summit. But while they do slow the step, in all honesty, the slog also adds welcome zest to the overall endeavor. And, as it happens, lingering snowpack, is not the sole surprise encountered.

Lady Bugs doin’ their Lady Bug thang atop Mary’s Nipple. Photo: P.M.Fadden

At the rocky peak of Mary’s is a sight certainly worthy of double-take. The sun-stained stones that will be the morning’s picnic spot are teeming–literally teeming–with Lady Bugs. A love parade of a magnitude akin to repopulating the Earth is taking place at nearly 10,000 feet in the Teton Valley.

Clearing a sitting space, it’s high time to kick back and enjoy what prompted the trip. It’s probably imagination, but toast with jam tastes better at altitude, as does rich coffee still warm within a thermos. And joining the table for the morning munching are peaks, Teewinot, Mount Owen, Middle and Grand Teton.

Here’s to high, wide spaces. Photo: P.M.Fadden

In-between Mary’s and the jagged horizon, birds of prey are teaching their young to soar. Breeze cools while sun warms, and it’s tempting to remain up here all bloody day.

The season’s final turns? Photo:P.M.Fadden

The ride: it’s slow, occasionally grippy and laborious, but that was obvious before departure. And the thrill of a few moments of fast wind past the cheek is best viewed as the cherry atop one mother-lovin’ sweet breaky with the Tetons.

Pandemic may have clamped the brakes on skiing but passion for the hills knows no quarantine and that, dear Reader, is happily alive atop Mary’s Nipple on June morning in the west. Cheers.

May/June 2020 Trip Reports:

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...