East/Southeast Ridge (Bighorn Valley)

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
III-V (Depending on route selection)

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East/Southeast Ridge (Bighorn Valley)
Created On: Aug 23, 2008
Last Edited On: Jul 25, 2009


Third Gendarme on Southeast Ridge

The Southeast/East Ridge is a more challenging route to Climber's Point with gendarmes and jackknifes to master and almost vertical dropp offs (similar to the Grand Traverse) along the East Ridge.

Combining Southeast/East Ridge with South Ridge offers a long ridge climb with great views of the Gore Range. Unlike the Grand Traverse on the other side of the valley, this route sees hardly any climbers - you will have the mountains all to yourself!

The East Ridge is, however separated from Climber's Point by a deep saddle.

Bring a rope to rapel down an almost vertical gully at the end of the East Ridge, otherwise you have to scramble down a ravine to the talus field below Climber's Point and scramble up the talus field to gain the summit block.

Getting There

From the Bighorn Creek Trailhead hike up the Bighorn Creek Trail for approximately three miles to the small cabin in the meadow.

The official trail ends here, but a well-worn climbers trail continues up the valley on its left side. The trail ends close to a meadow with several ponds.Continue along the Bighorn Creek until its source at the end of the Bighorn Valley in a basin full of talus, surrounded by ridges on three sides.

Route Description

Saddle between East Ridge and Climbers Point
Southeast and East Ridge
Southeast Ridge

End of East Ridge

When standing in the basin:

To your left (West)rises the Southeast ridge - straight ahead is the easier East Ridge (probably class 2+).

Easily gain the Southeast Ridge and climb on/along the crest over four gendarmes.

You can keep difficulties to class 3 - however, the gendarmes offer also class 4 routes.

The gendarmes are followed by a hike up grassy slopes and an easy scramble along the ridge to the peak you see right above you. It marks the meeting point of East and Southeast Ridge - Climber's Point looms in quite a distant to the west.

After gaining this point on the ridge you will have spectacular views of the Northern Gore ranges and the rarely visited Boulder Creek Valley right below you.

Scramble (class 2) along the crest in direction of Climber's Point, with vertical dropp offs to your right.

The East Ridge becomes increasingly narrower the closer you get to Climber's Point. The last part of the ridge requires an airy class 3+ climb on a narrow jackknife with dropp offs on both sides.

The jackknife is the crux of the whole climb.It ends in a vertical cliff as the East Ridge is separated from Climber's Point by a deep saddle.

Two main options to get down to this saddle:

1. rapel down an almost vertical gully at the end of the jackknife

2. when climbing on the jackknife, look to your left - you will see a ravine leading all the way down to the talus field in the basin below Climber's Point - climb down the ravine and climb up the talus field to gain the saddle below the summit block. This is a very tedious option - lots of altitude loss which has to be regained. The ravine can also serve as an emergency exit route - Bighorn Valley is right below the talus field.

Very confident climbers might be able to find a route over to the saddle through the cliffs on both sides of the jackknife. This involves very exposed class 4/5 climbing. The right side of the ridge (north) is an almost vertical cliff - if you slip not much will stop you from falling 300 feet down to the talus fields of Boulder Creek Valley.

After gaining the saddle, a talus loaden slope will get you up to Climbers Point (scouted from East Ridge - dark clouds moving in ended my trip after climbing down the ravine).

Essential Gear

Bring a helmet - in early summer an ice axe will come handy.

The rock on the ridges is more solid than on the Grand Traverse, but still plenty of loose talus.

Get an early start, especially if you combine the ridge with the South Ridge.BE OFF THE RIDGE LATEST AROUND MIDDAY.

Violent thunderstorms move in regulary and very quickly in the early afternoon hours - you do not want to be caught on the ridge in a thunderstorm!

Lightning kills hikers every year in the Rockies !