North Northwest Ridge
On the striking north side of Buck Mountain are three prominent ridges. The westernmost of these steep ridges is the North Northwest Ridge Route. The nature of the route is adventurous with some route finding, exposure on easier terrain, and possible snow climbing at the base. Placing gear along this route is possible most of the way, but often there aren't too many options or bomber placements. The climbing varies from 4th Class and mid 5th, to 5.7 on the west ridge. Rope drag is a real hazard along the route and loose rock often tumbles off the route and into the North Face West Couloir just to the left of this route. Simul-climbing is possible and usually safe along much of the terrain. The views along the route of Whister, the Grand Teton, and the nearby North Central Ridge are superb. This route and it's neighbors are seldom done and solitude is usually found on the north side of Buck Mountain.
North Northwest Ridge (5.7)- from the broad bench below the north side routes, traverse to the uppermost right corner with the last part usually being on steep snow or ice. Ice-Axe and cramp-ons will usually be required to get to the base. Start at the base of the North Face West Couloir near a large boulder often laden with rap slings. Traverse up and right out of the base of the couloir onto loose rock, followed by more solid rock the higher you get away from the couloir. Generally, the most rotten, loose rock will be found closer to the coloir (left), and the more solid rock will be closer to the ridge (right). Climb 5.3-5.4 for several hundred feet with various types of climbing from friction, to shelf mantling, to face climbing. The route steepens and the climbing has more 5.5 -5.6 type moves as it nears the west summit ridge and prominent notch. Just before this area stay left and traverse back toward the top of the couloir. Once on the west summit ridge, a slightly overhanging fin blocks the climbing to the summit at a prominent notch at the top of the North Face Couloir. This is the only way to the summit from here, and the moves look tougher than they are. Make a committing pull up with large jugs to a small ledge that gives way to a scramble to the summit.
Approach- From the Taggart Lake Parking area, follow the trail north of the Lake and pick up a climbers trail that heads up into Avalanche Canyon. This subsidiary trail is rough in spots and passes over many downed logs and creeks, but is prevalent all the way to the South Fork of Avalanche Canyon, where you must scramble steeply up into the South Fork and find a faint path again in the upper basin. Access the broad slope under the north face routes on the left side, but be aware of rock fall and sections of pure ice in this area. Traverse right (west) along the base to furthest west to start the climb.
Descent- Utilize the Class 3 East Face slopes to get back to the valley, but be aware that the well used path will lead you toward Death Canyon, where you can pick up the Valley Trail back to Taggart in 4.5 more miles. Rappelling the route would only be advised in extreme situations given the walk off option. Another descent option may be to utilize the NE Couloir to go from the East Face area back over and into Avalanche Canyon, but this would require some serious route finding.
Gear- This route doesn't have many great cracks, but still there are some here and there to be found. A selection of small to medium nuts, 2 larger cams along with some small aliens, and some large slings to girth hitch rock horns would be useful. Long runners are critical on the pro to reduce the rope drag since there's many sharp arêtes and horns to climb around. Rappelling this route would require leaving the better part of a climbing rack on the mountain. There was little evidence of gear left behind (slings etc.) in the area, compared to what is found on some of the more popular climbs in the Tetons.
From Taggart Lake Trailhead : 7.2 miles and 6042 feet gain (one way) / 16.7 miles and 6498 feet roundtrip using East Face descent