North Face Direct

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.13720°N / 113.7794°W
Additional Information Route Type: Snow/Ice, technical Rock
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: AI 3, 5.7
Sign the Climber's Log


Approach the North face via the Rock Creek drainage.
To get to the parking spot, continue West past the turnoff to the standard route to the Doublesprings Pass road. Turn right and go about 1/2 mile on Doublesprings Pass road until you reach the end of the fence on the right hand side of the road. Make a right turn onto a dirt double track road heading east. Follow this double track road to the end (approx. 2 miles) at it's end is a wide flat camp spot and an irrigation diversion dam on Rock Creek.
There is one very small creek crossing and a gate to pass through, please leave gate as you find it (if it is open when you go, leave it open--if it is closed, pass through and reclose gate behind you).
Double track dirt road is passable in most vehicles, higher clearance vehicle is preferred, 4 wheel drive isn't needed

Route Description

From parking spot along Rock Creek it is approx. 5 miles to the base of the North Face.
Cross Rock Creek at diversion dam and follow Rock Creek drainage on East side of creek. Try and stay about 200 yards above creek to avoid brushy areas as much as possible, after about 1/2 mile there is a faint climbers trail and an old wagon trail which can be followed for most of the approach. After about 3 miles the creek turns Eastward, remain close to the creek for about the next mile to avoid "death scree" to the left and brush to the right. Creek eventually leads to a wooded valley and the North face of mountain is clearly visible from here.
Continue hiking up valley toward N face which ends at cliff bands (elev ~9800 ft). Depending on conditions, either continue up snow gully for approx 200 vertical feet, or scramble through rock ledges to right of gully (class 3+), then continue scrambling to base of N face (elev, ~10,500 ft)
Chose any of 3-4 routes through rock bands on face below summit block. The most obvious is to the right of the lower rock bands. From here it is 5-7 pitches to the base of the summit block, mostly on steep snow (40-45 degrees), but later in the year this section can be hard alpine ice on the entire lower route.
At the base of the summit block continue up main couloir (almost always ice and 50-55 degrees) for 1 pitch. Then exit couloir onto left wall and continue up rock for 3-5 pitches. The crux moves are short (10-15 ft) steep sections separated by longer sections of 4th class-low 5th class climbing on marginal rock at times. After 3-5 pitches the angle of the ridge eases and it is 3rd-4th class scrambling along ridge to the summit.
***If you want to avoid the 5.7 section, continue up couloir to base of cliff at top of couloir and climb to your right through a short (20 foot) section of 5.5 rock/mixed climbing and through a small cornice. Once above cornice, traverse across SW face of mountain (class 3+)to any number of gullies which lead to the summit***
Descend SW (chicken out)ridge route until you get to last saddle before dropping into main parking area. Instead of turning left and following trail to parking area, cut off trail to right and hike cross country back to Rock Creek. Stay on a compass heading of ~350 degrees to avoid getting sucked into drainage systems above Rock Creek. All these drainage systems will eventually lead back to Rock Creek, but can add 2-3 miles to your total trip and substantial bushwacking!!

Essential Gear

60 meter rope, Helmet, 2 ice axes, crampons, harness.

Early season: 2-3 snow pickets, 4-6 med ice screws, 2-3 locking biners, 4-6 quickdraws, 8-10 various slings/cordelette, small alpine rock rack (set of nuts, 3-4 smaller tricams, 3-4 regular cams--0.5" to 2")

Late season: replace snow pickets with 3-4 additional ice screws and quickdraws.

Miscellaneous Info

This route can be done either as a long day (10-16 hours) "alpine" style by fit experienced climbers or as an overnight trip.
The alpine style trip being the preferred style as anything you take up Rock creek has to be carried over the top of the mountain.
If you choose to do this as an overnight trip, there are good bivy/campsites on the morraine fields below the N face, with water usually available by melting snow, or sometimes found running off nearby cliffs.

If you do not want to carry bivy/camping gear over the summit you may also opt to return through rock creek, but the downclimb along the NE ridge, or reversing your route back down the N face is generally harder (multiple rappels/steep down climbing) and usually takes about as long as descending the SW (chicken out ) ridge route, but with much more effort.

If you want a last minute "scouting" report on general conditions of the N face, continue travelling on highway past Doublesprings Pass road toward Challis for about 5-6 miles. There is a turnout on the left (south) side of the road which you can park and see most of upper North face fairly well with binoculars.


First ascent: MIke Weber and Bob Boyles October 1976

First winter ascent: MIke Weber, Bob Boyles, Frank Florence, Art Troutner January 1977

The traditional climbing season for the North face is late May-October. Expect snow for most of approach in May-June and snowshoes or skies are very helpful. The end of the season is dictated by the winter storm season.
Any winter attempt should expect deep unconsolidated snow, high avalanche hazard and extremely cold temperatures. Also, the winter approach is generally lengthened considerably due to snow levels on valley floor which will prohibit vehicle travel to end of dirt road at rock creek.



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