North Face (a.k.a. Wyrick-Merrill)

North Face (a.k.a. Wyrick-Merrill)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.72500°N / 109.292°W
Additional Information Route Type: Aid Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: II - III 5.8 C2
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.8 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 3
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


Pitch 1

Noahs213 mentions:  "Thought I'd add, go do the Flow (5.8 C1).  P1 of WM has fallen apart"

Put up in 1973 by the duo of Wyrick and Merrill, this was the first line established on the tower. From the appearance of it, most of the fixed gear is original vintage giving the first pitch bolt ladder some nice spice. The belay anchors have since been supplemented by limited amounts of more modern gear though little in the way of adventure feel has been lost as some of the newer bolts flex nicely in their holes. The rock is quite interesting as well especially on the first two pitches making for some excitement when free climbing becomes mandatory. The final pitch (Moenkopi layer) features solid rock and fun (wide crack) climbing.

Note that the Bjornstad guidebook (see River Tower page here) has this route listed as III 5.8 C1 while Burns guidebook gives it as III 5.8 C2. Though I think it's more of a grade II, I'd say C2 on the aid rating...and a somewhat nasty C2 at that as you're looking at the worst placements directly above P1 belay (which itself leaves something to be desired).

Getting There

Follow directions on main page for River Tower. The north face is the face that vaguely faces the Colorado River. Route is located near the left side of the face (northwest side). Look for obvious "bolt" ladder going up into a chimney-like groove about 50 feet up.

Route Description


Pitch 1: C1, 120 feet. Follow the bolt ladder to about 15 feet below the anchor where several C1 placements are required. You'll get to clip some exciting fixed pieces on this pitch (suggest screamers) some of which needed to be excavated from the mud.

Pitch 2: 5.8 C2, 90 feet. Some C2-ish placements directly above the belay anchor (which itself is a tad exciting) bring you to some mandatory free climbing up a mud chimney (easy 5th). Chimney constricts just above the 2nd fixed pin. Above, step right onto dirty, sloping ledges. Follow lower angle grooves above one more fixed pin to a fixed belay just below the top of the ridge.

Pitch 3: 5.8, 90 feet. Hike up to the ridge top, fix a rope and rap into the notch. Climb back out of the notch via easy chimney then a wide (#4 C4) crack. Belay bolts just below the deteriorating summit.

Rap from summit to notch and jug out of notch heading back to pitch 2 belay anchor.

Rap back to top of P1 (single 60 meter probably enough).

Rap to ground (double rope needed).

Note that two 70 meter ropes allow you to rap directly to ground from top of P2 (not sure if 2 60 meter lines would suffice).

Essential Gear

Five Piece Rawl

Single set of cams from black Alien to #3 Camalot (possibly extra #0.5 or red Aliens). Double #4 Camalots. One or two larger pieces. Lots of small and medium nuts or rivet hangers for the long (mostly hangerless) laddder. Screamers. Goggles/ski mask.

Route Topo


Having Fun With Perspective

Roughly same instant of the climb captured three ways.
View Down
View Up

From Afar



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