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West Ridge

West Ridge

West Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Object Title: West Ridge

Route Type: Mountaineering

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Time Required: One to two days

Difficulty: Class 3-4 - depending on route selection

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Niederbayer

Created/Edited: Aug 24, 2009 / Aug 27, 2009

Object ID: 544414

Hits: 2168 

Page Score: 74.01%  - 4 Votes 

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Peak P and Peak Q

Climbing Peak Q from its West Ridge via Pitkin Lake saves you the bushwhacking mandatory for all approaches from the East - but it is still an arduous undertaking.

The total elevation gain is more than 5000 ft and climbing down to the Southern Slate Drainage (and getting out of it again) can be tricky.

If you look for a route to get away from it all - this one would be a good choice!

Route Description

Peak R, S, T from summit
Summit Peak Q - view of Ripsaw Ridge
Prisoner Peak from West - East Partner ridge
Sunrise Ripsaw Ridge - from West Ridge Peak Q


Pitkin Lake Trailhead (Bighorn/Vail) - coming from Denver get off I - 70 at exit180. Turn right and right again on Fall Line Road and drive to the parking area for Pitkin Lake Trail at the end of the road.

Notice: this parking area allows only parking for up to 48 hours!


Hike on a well trodden path up to Pitkin Lake. Pass Pitkin Lake on its left side. Follow the creek uphill to another small lake.

The wide saddle between West and East Partner seems to be the obvious choice to cross the ridge separating Pitkin Lake from the South Slate Creek Drainage.However, from the saddle you would have to descend very steep and long rubble and snow filled gullies,which are extremely prone to rockfall.

A better option is the deep notch in the ridge between West Partner and the saddle, marked by a very obvious upstanding solitary rock (looks remotely like a thumb's up).

On the north side of the notch you will have to climb down a pretty steep and most the time (at least partially) snow filled gully, but the gully is comparably short and soon ends in a boulder field.

Scramble down the boulder field to the valley bottom and hike up to the end of the valley.

The West Ridge of Peak Q can be easily reached by scrambling up the Southwestern slopes.

Hike up the West Ridge until you are right below the Western summit of Peak Q.

From here you have to options:


Climb up to the Western summit. From there a narrow ridge leads over to the higher Eastern Summit. This climb will get you into high Class 4 and you will have lots of exposure


Below the Western summit a scree/rubble filled rockband leads down into the gully separating the Western from the Eastern summit. The descent is pretty slippery, expect to run into snowfields until early August.

On the other side of the gully another (less treacherous) rock band leads around the summit block of the Eastern Summit. Look for cracks (Class 3) which will give you access to the summit.

Gear/Mountain Condition

Peak Q from South Slate Creek Valley

Helmet, ice pick and crampons

Peak Q is in the middle of nowhere - you will be on your own if anything goes wrong, it might take weeks or months until the next hiker comes by.


Prisoner Peak from West - East Partner ridgeSummit Peak Q - view of Ripsaw RidgeSunrise Ripsaw Ridge - from West Ridge Peak QPeak R, S, T from summitPeak Q from South Slate Creek ValleyPeak P and Peak QEast Summit - Peak Q