North Face Direct

Page Type
Idaho, United States, North America
Route Type:
Snow, Ice/Mixed, Technical rock climbing
Time Required:
A long day
AI 4, 5.8

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Page By:
North Face Direct
Created On: Nov 15, 2005
Last Edited On: Nov 17, 2005


Follow directions up Baron Lakes trail from Grandjean trailhead to Moolack Creek, find easiest way to cross Baron Creek then head up slopes (generally headed SE) until you can access the snowfields at base of the North face and the climbing starts here.

Route Description

Begin ascending snowfield; about 1/3 of the way up the snowfield, there is a large "island " of rocks. Either bypass to the left (less avalanche hazard/rockfall) on snow slopes, or scramble (4th class) directly up through center of rocks. Keep climbing up the steepening snow field (45-50 deg.) to base of couloir.
Negotiate a small bergschrund to get onto 1st pitch of rock (5.5), then continue up couloir as it ramps up to the right (northwest) toward ridgeline. At the top of the second pitch from the bergschrund, there is a small headwall/gully that leads directly toward summit.
Climb wall (5.8/M4) directly and continue up steep gully for 2-3 pitches. Depending on snow pack and time of year, the gully may be snow/ice or loose rock. The climbing is fairly continuously 5.5-5.6 for these pitches and then steepens for the crux.
The crux is a full pitch of thin WI 4/M4 mixed, which leads to a roof, with an exit ramp to the right. over very exposed positions. Then follow steep snow (60+ degrees) and short mixed sections angling back to left and follow line of least resistance to summit ridge (3-4 pitches).
Once on summit ridge, it is a class 3+ scramble to the summit.

Descend by scrambling back down the Northwest ridge to the cornice of the Ramp route and rappel Ramp route, then downclimb/ glissade snowfield back to Baron Creek Trail

Essential Gear

Rope (2- 8mm preferred), Helmet, crampons, 2 ice axes, Rock rack (full set of nuts, 4-5 cams:0.25"-2.5", set of Tricams, 4-6 short/med lost arrow pitons), 6-8 quick draws, 4-6 locking biners, 4-6 short/Med ice screws (stubbies would have been nice), 10-12 various slings/cordelette.


This route is a balance of good snowpack, warm early spring weather and then a good freeze and a slow enough runoff to be able to cross Baron Creek.
We have been turned back on several N face attempts by not being able to safely cross Baron Creek, and by the time the water level dropped, the climbing window was gone.
The rock quality is typical Sawtooth (Good to Awful in a 10 foot section). Cold weather to freeze rocks together makes this climb much more enjoyable.

First ascent

To my knowledge, this route has only been climbed twice , with the first ascent April 10, 1998 as a solo climb (what was I THINKING!?!?) and then repeated one week later.