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Northwest Ridge

Northwest Ridge

Northwest Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Idaho, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 43.72720°N / 114.0893°W

Object Title: Northwest Ridge

Route Type: Hike/Scramble/Climb

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Class IV+

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: IdahoKid

Created/Edited: Oct 23, 2005 / Oct 23, 2005

Object ID: 167236

Hits: 1503 

Page Score: 0%  - 0 Votes 

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To access the Little Matterhorn and its Northwest Ridge Route from Hailey, Idaho, drive north on Highway 75 for 7 miles until reaching the East Fork Road. If coming from Ketchum, drive south on Highway 75 for 7 miles until reaching the same road. Turn east up the paved road and drive through many subdivisions.

Follow the road through the old mining town of Triumph until the road becomes dirt. Continue up the main East Fork of the Big Wood River as the road splits at Hyndman Creek. Follow the road past Sawmill and Federal Gulch Campgrounds. The road deteriorates in condtion after the campgrounds and a four-wheel drive, high clearence vehicle is needed. Drive 4 rough miles to the trailhead for Johnstone Pass.

Route Description

From the Johnstone Pass trailhead, take the trail 1.5 miles northeast through the amazing valley below Jaqueline, Mcintyre, Peak 10,805, and The Box toward Johnstone Pass.

Leave the trail as it begins to turn eastward, or as soon as you can easily cut across the valley toward the base of Little Matterhorn. Bushwhack to the 9,000' contour line to the base of draw made of granite slabs, alpine evergreens, and steep streambeds.

Scramble up the face nearly 1,000' above staying near the stream. Turn due west near 9,800' and aim for the saddle northwest of Little Matterhorn.

Turn southeast at the saddle and walk toward the auminous looking summit block just 10 minutes away.

A few easy class three moves leads to the base of the real challenge. At this point, one must climb up an impressive, 20' wall. Although on solid rock, there are few holds and the exposure is great on both sides, especially to the east. Climb the center of the face, which is a class IV<.

Once at the top of the wall, it becomes a traverse to reach the true summit. The traverse is short but very difficult. At this point, the ridgeline becomes sharp as a knife with a sheer wall on one side and slick, almost vertical slabs on the other. The only set of small holds are near the knife edge ridgeline. Use hands as much as feet across the slabs while traversing. The last move forces one almost on an overhang across the vertical east face. This last move borders class V terrain.

After hopping across a small notch, the final few feet lead to the indefinable, true summit ridge of Little Matterhorn, which a few dozen feet long.

Essential Gear

Although it is very possible to climb this route without the use of ropes. It is recommended to bring one for safety.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.


The first set of class 4...Although a short section,... IdahoKid crossing the...The Northwest Ridge Route...