OverviewRefer to the Elkhorn Mountain parent page. This is the easiest and standard route up Elkhorn. The majority of ascents are made via this route and almost everyone descends this way. The description below assumes that the reader has completed the initial approach up the Elkhorn Creek canyon and has established a camp at either of the two options described on the main page.
Route DescriptionFrom either camp proceed along the NW ridge staying on the ridge crest as much as possible. In several places it is necessary to go around, rather than over, bumps on the ridge. An hour or so from the higher of the two camps will bring you to the toe of the upper NW ridge, the original ascent route. The huge gendarme seen in many pictures of Elkhorn dominates the ridge above you.
Leave the NW ridge here and traverse approximately 300 m south across the top of the West Basin and into the West Gullies. There are several options. Take the rightmost one that should lead, if you’ve chosen correctly, to a huge chockstone. Chimney up behind this at low 5th Class. Proceed up the gullies at 4th Class with several low 5th Class moves to eventually exit left onto the summit boulder field. Scramble up this to the top and read the (illegal) memorial plaque.
Descend by reversing the above by down climbing or rappel. Time from camp on the col: 10-12 hrs return. Strong parties descend all the way down to the road on the second day.