Glad you put this up! I was wondering about that face. The North Ridge is definitely NOT 4th class though. It is 3rd class. I found that route very straightforward.
In the spring when we descended this way we had to do some low fifth class down-climbing around and over big loose blocks on the upper third of the ridge. The steepness and required climbing skills surprised us both for the 'standard' route (down mantles, stems, smears, etc), though the standard routes on both Wilsons I would call fourth class. Without a doubt we had to use our hands and CLIMB, though perhaps the abundance of snow changed things. I am gonna stick by my story, though perhaps it'll make people think me a fool and an 'up-grader'. Hope not.
We didn't have any trouble route-finding, it is a straight-forward, narrow ridge. I would call the ridge between Wilson Peak to Gladstone 3rd Class, where using your hands is not necessary, and the upper third of the N Ridge of Gladstone 4th Class, where some pulling comes into play. A seasonal problem with the snow on route or a problem of the understanding of the definition of each class...
Thanks for the feedback, brother of the rope. I would like to hear that others have climbed the South face, but have come up with nothing so far. A direct route from the snow up the center of the upper headwall is desirable, and I'd also like to check out climbing the small wall at the bottom of the West ridge and continuing up the West ridge of Gladstone. The North face looks like its got some potential on the middle of the three big RFD's.
I'll see what my partner has to say about the descent...
Alright; so I did a quick check of the Grade definitions:
"Class 2 Hiking a steep incline, scrambling, maybe using your hands.
Class 3 Climbing steep a hillside, moderate exposure, a rope may be carried but not used, and hands are used in climbing. A short fall could be possible.
Class 4 It is steeper yet, exposed and most people use a rope due to the potential of long falls. "
So perhaps the ridgeline 'tween Wilson Peak and Gladstone is 2nd Class and the upper ridge is 3rd Class, indeed. If you slipped you'd be a goner-a long, long fall potential. Be prepared is the motto. If you climbed the south face you cam get down the north ridge. But dont relax too much on top.
The route description on this site calls for avoiding steep blocks on the upper ridge by traversing east a short ways. We stayed on the ridgeline proper the whole way down because of the abundance of snow on the east side. Snow could have made all the difference. We also descended west instead of east because of the snow, which was a bad call cause we didn't have a car at the Navajo Lake TH. You are correct about the ridge and I will amend my statements on the page.
Rated 3rd Class, we experienced 4th Class on a warm, early-June afternoon (steep, exposed, nasty fall potential in the case of a slip).
**Splitting hairs is tricky. Technical ground is more known ground; the face required a rope and climbing. The descent was no walk off, but not a rock climb, either. Thats the jist.**
wow I disappear for a few hours and see lots of great info here. Yes snow would increase the difficulty if you were forced on the ridge proper the entire way. I am the one who wrote the Gladstone Peak page and I remember mentioning traversing slightly below the crest to the east. If covered in snow then no doubt some of those blocks on the crest would venture towards 4th class but since I'm from western Washington, I see the west coast YDS bias where everything is a grade less.
Anyways, I am glad you added this route. I hope to do it sometime soon and would be down for other alpine routes on other aspects on this mountain if you're interested!