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North Ridge
Route

North Ridge

 
North Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.56170°N / 118.224°W

Object Title: North Ridge

Route Type: technical rock

Time Required: Half a day

Rock Difficulty: 5.4 (YDS)

Difficulty: 5.4

Grade: III

Route Quality: 
 - 12 Votes
 

 

Page By: Steve Larson

Created/Edited: Oct 7, 2001 / Sep 11, 2010

Object ID: 155834

Hits: 17412 

Page Score: 77.23%  - 8 Votes 

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Overview

The north ridge on Lone Pine Peak is a classic Sierra ridge climb. Unlike many established rock climbs, there is no single "correct" route. The topology of the ridge is rather complex. Blocks, towers, and deep notches present obstacles to forward progress that may be turned in a variety of manners, ranging from easy (class 3) to hard (class 5.double-digit). Rather than worrying about whether you are "on route", ask yourself if you like the route you are on. If so, carry on. If not, look for alternatives.

Approach

The approach depends on how much of the ridge you plan to climb. The standard approach follows the Meysan Lakes trail until just before Little Meysan Lake where the trail levels out close to the stream at around the 9,500 foot level. Directly east you will see a rather poorly defined chute marked by a lone tree on its lower right side. Scramble up the chute (loose class 2/3) to a notch, then traverse from the notch to a broad talus gully. Cross the gully to reach the north ridge proper.

If attempting the complete north ridge (it's been done in a day!), start either at the pullout at the start of the switchbacks on Whitney Portal Road and cross the creek to the toe of the ridge, or at Lone Pine Campground, and follow the stream on the south side until reaching the ridge. Scramble up the ridge for several thousand feet until around 11,000 feet the climbing transitions from talus to easy rock.

Whichever approach is used, scramble up steepening slabs (up to class 4) to a notch where the climbing becomes obviously technical.

Route Description

The ridge is a complex affair with many gendarmes, steps, notches, knife edged portions and ledge traverses. A large number of variations are possible. It is probably possible to find a way that keeps the difficulties to fourth class or below, though one would not spend much time on the ridge crest. Tackling some of the towers directly is likely to involve climbing well above the 5.10 level. The simplest description would be to simply say "follow the ridge". It is a good challenge in route finding.

However, for those preferring to follow more detailed instructions, there are a few options. Some (myself included) have found the rather lengthy description in Secor to be confusing. Alois Smrz offers this improved description:

"From the notch, go down and left some 40', climb 5th class crack slanting left. Climb 4th class pitch toward the huge, sharp flake above. Go left and down, follow ledges to gully system, which leads back up toward the crest of the ridge (3rd,4th). The ridge soon brings you to the Second Tower. From the notch, move right 50'. Climb 5th class steep face/ramp to 5.7 layback with old, fixed ring pin. Belay at a platform on the right. Move 10' right, climb awkward (5.7?) offwidth.

"Continue up for two pitches to top of the tower. Traverse along the crest of the tower. Descend to the notch. Third Tower. From the notch, move left and down into large gully (20'), climb 5th class crack/steep face to a ledge on the left side of the arete. Two more 4th class pitches up and right bring you to the crest again. Traverse along the crest. Downclimb south side of tower to notch and final summit pitches.Summit Pitches.Twenty feet left of the notch, climb up 6-8 pitches of 4th and easy 5th directly to the summit register.

"Please note: To reach the notch of all the towers, downclimb 4th class terrain, no rappelling is required."

Joe Lemay has described a somewhat easier alternative:

"From the notch, go down and left some 40'. Rope up. (Second Tower.) Climb 5th class crack slanting left for a pitch toward the huge, sharp flake above. Before the flake, go left (east) around buttresses following ledges into a gully that leads to a notch in the ridge. (Third Tower.) 200 ft. before the notch, follow 3rd class ledges with some short 5 class moves up to the top of the tower. Downclimb into the notch on the west side.

(Summit Pitches.) Rope up. There are two options. 1. Traverse right on loose ledges, then up just right of the crest of the ridge for ~5 pitches. 2. Climb up to the top of the notch then twenty feet east and down from the notch. Immediately climb a short 5.7 hand/finger crack, then five pitches of 4th and easy 5th just right of the crest of the ridge directly to the summit register."

Descent

The most straightforward descent is via the northwest slopes. Follow the south ridge until it is obvious that you can easily drop into the large bowl that leads back down into the Meysan Lake drainage. Be careful about dropping in too soon, as the first chutes you come to will probably leave you cliffed out. Pick up the trail again in the vicinity of Grass Lake, and walk back to Whitney Portal. Class 2.

Essential Gear

The route is often soloed with nothing more than approach shoes or rock shoes. Unless you are confident free soloing 5.7 rock with significant exposure, plan on roping up for at least part of the climb. A 50 m rope, single set of cams, a few small nuts and plenty of long runners will suffice.

5-1-06 2199

Additions and Corrections

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asmrzRoute Comment

asmrz

Voted 10/10

On June 1, 2001, Joe LeMay and I climbed the Complete North Ridge from the car parked at Day Parking Area of the Lone Pine Campground. We found this to be challenging, aesthetic and classic line. The route is 7,100' high and some 4 miles long. We took 17.5 hours from our car to the summit. The description in the 2nd Edition of Secor's book is a bit confusing, so I would like to offer my alternative:





THE COMPLETE NORTH RIDGE FROM THE DESERT FLOOR: V, 5.7





The climb starts at the Day Parking area of the Lone Pine Campground at 5,700'. From the far end of the Campground, the signed trail to Whitney Portal starts at 5,900'. Follow the trail till 6,900'. Leave the trail and head up onto the lower North Ridge. The lower part of the ridge is steep, difficult scrambling on scree.Bypass boulders and obstacles mostly on left(E).Above 9,300';pass through a notch to the West side of the ridge. Climb series of ledges on the right (W) side well bellow the ridge crest. Scramble up 1,000'. After some 4,500' have been gained, the large notch of the Meysan Lakes route (III,5.4) is reached. Above the notch, several hundred feet of steepening slabs (up to 4th class) lead up to the First Tower. Rope up. From the notch, go down and left some 40', climb 5th class crack slanting left. Climb 4th class pitch toward the huge, sharp flake above. Go left and down, follow ledges to gully system, which leads back up toward the crest of the ridge (3rd,4th). The ridge soon brings you to the Second Tower. From the notch, move right 50'. Climb 5th class steep face/ramp to 5.7 layback with old, fixed ring pin. Belay at a platform on the right. Move 10' right, climb awkward (5.7?) offwidth.


Continue up for two pitches to top of the tower. Traverse along the crest of the tower. Descend to the notch. Third Tower. From the notch, move left and down into large gully (20'), climb 5th class crack/steep face to a ledge on the left side of the arete. Two more 4th class pitches up and right bring you to the crest again. Traverse along the crest. Downclimb south side of tower to notch and final summit pitches.Summit Pitches.Twenty feet left of the notch, climb up 6-8 pitches of 4th and easy 5th directly to the summit register.


Please note: To reach the notch of all the towers, downclimb 4th class terrain, no rappelling is required.


Equipment: One (or two) 8.1mm rope(s), 5 medium wires, 5 medium Hexes, 7 slings, rock shoes, harness, helmet, water, a few granola bars,bivi gear. Go as light as possible!
Posted Jun 23, 2005 7:07 pm
MishaRoute Comment

Misha

Hasn't voted

Alois,


This beta is spot on! We followed it religiously and it did not let us down, except that we could not find that 5.7 OW (probably a good thing :)


We even found the rusty pin that we happily clipped. That lieback did feel 5.7ish, especially with heavy packs.
Posted Sep 6, 2005 1:28 am
jlemayRoute Comment

jlemay

Hasn't voted

I’ve now climbed the N Ridge from Meysan Lakes, two additional times and have an easier route that avoids several sections. There seem to be other variations but this one was very easy. Did it car-to-car in 14 hours with two novices.


From Meysan Lakes drainage, cross the stream and follow the ledges up and north to a ridge. Now traverse across a gulley to another ridge, then across another gulley to another ridge. You will now see the entire lower part of the true north ridge. Ascend up just left of the ridge for several hundred feet. Near the top, there will be 4th class slabs. Go to the top of the first tower. Downclimb into the notch


From the notch, go down and left some 40'. Rope up. (Second Tower.) Climb 5th class crack slanting left for a pitch toward the huge, sharp flake above. Before the flake, go left (east) around buttresses following ledges into a gully that leads to a notch in the ridge. (Third Tower.) 200 ft. before the notch, follow 3rd class ledges with some short 5 class moves up to the top of the tower. Downclimb into the notch on the west side.


(Summit Pitches.) Rope up. There are two options. 1. Traverse right on loose ledges, then up just right of the crest of the ridge for ~5 pitches. 2. Climb up to the top of the notch then twenty feet east and down from the notch. Immediately climb a short 5.7 hand/finger crack, then `5 pitches of 4th and easy 5th just right of the crest of the ridge directly to the summit register.


Posted Sep 22, 2005 12:46 am
fossanacomment

fossana

Hasn't voted

There are 2 fixed pins on the section below the 5.7 lieback.
Posted Aug 31, 2009 1:27 am
PellucidWombatDescent Route Notes

PellucidWombat

Hasn't voted

There are a few easy things to consider to make sure you take the right descent:



1. If you have to downscramble ANYTHING 3rd class, you are descending too soon.



2. If you are gaining elevation again as you traverse the summit plateau, you have gone too far.



3. If you can mostly scree ski the route and it isn't even close to class 3, then you are taking the right chute.



Having these 3 points spelled out for me would have saved many hours of exploring all of the chutes NOT to take down! Pt. #2 was apparent to me, but 1 & 3 would have saved a lot of grief.
Posted Oct 24, 2011 4:24 pm

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