See Approach information on the main Ellingwood Peak page for directions to the north side of this peak. The North Arete is approached from the east end of Lake 10,813. The route begins to the left of a pair of dark buttresses that dip into the talus, just left of the crest of the arete.
This is an under appreciated climb. It is similar in quality to the West Ridge of Mt. Conness (in the Sierras), but longer and more sustained. With its remote location and high quality rock, this climb is another of North America's classics.
Several variations are possible for the first pitch of the climb. We chose a difficult pitch up a slab to a roof, turned the roof on its left side (there was a fixed stopper here), and made an awkward belay about 200 ft. above in a dihedral. At this point, you are climbing left of the crest, but climbing upward along the path of least resistance will lead you to the crest of the arete in 2 to 3 pitches.
The climbing is consistent in diffculty (5.6), but protection is abundant and the rock is excellent.
For the next 10 or so pitches, a route description is not necessary, as there are many possible variations. Follow the narrowing arete to where it tapers to a small point about 200 feet below the summit, at an intimidating headwall. From this point, climb straight up the blocky headwall to the crest of the summit ridge. Take this ridge for a rope's length to the summit (which has a register of gargantuan size).
For the descent, take the 4th class Southwest Ridge. This route looks improbable but with careful route-finding it will not exceed 4th class. From the summit, begin by traversing ledges on the right side of the ridge (for about 200-300 feet). When the route becomes impassable, move to the left side of the ridge and follow a system of broken 4th class ledges to the col between Ellingwood Peak and Elephant Head. Most of the route is cairned.
Alpine rack to 2", and plenty of long runners. A 60m rope is useful, based on the length of the route.
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.