North Face, Grade III, Snow/Ice/Rock 5

North Face, Grade III, Snow/Ice/Rock 5

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 43.18440°N / 109.653°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mixed climb (Ice and Rock)
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Snow and/or Ice-45 degrees, Rock-technical 4th or easy 5th class
Sign the Climber's Log


The route can be approached either from Titcomb Basin (via Bonney Pass) or from the East via Glacier Trail.

If you are also planning to rock climb in the Titcomb Basin, the Bonney Pass approach is the way to go. And if you are hiking to Gannett Peak to only climb Gooseneck Pinnacle Ridge, the Bonney Pass might be a little shorter and easier as well.  The Bonney Pass approach from the Upper Titcomb Basin is 2400' of gain and some 2-3 miles of scree. 

But for this North Face route only, the approach via the Glacier Trail (from the East) might be a bit better as it allows camping on the Dinwoody Glacier, close to all the action The other advantage of the eastern approach is the plethora of ice gullies and mixed climbs on the Dinwoody side of the divide, which one can easily climb from there.

Both the approaches are complex and long. If you are really interested in climbing in and around Gannett Peak, study all the climbing routes and  the climbing guides closely.

Route Description

This description is for Bonney Pass approach from Titcomb Basin. Scramble up the 2400' of scree slopes to Bonney Pass. Hike down the other side (1,600' +-) to Dinwoody Glacier. Cross the glacier to the base of Gooseneck Pinnacle Ridge. Instead of climbing up onto the ridge, approach the face by the arm of Gooseneck Glacier that slants up to the col on the NE ridge. Pass by a big tower to reach the upper north face. Five or six pitches (depends on schrund size and ease of crossing) of 45 degree snow or ice lead to a rock band. You have two choices here. If you traverse left, you can pass through a notch and climb the summit snowfield (400-500'). We avoided the summit snowfield by climbing right to another notch and climbed 400-500 feet of steep 4th or easy 5th class rock on the North Ridge to reach the summit plateau. Descent is via the Gooseneck Pinnacle Ridge, the standard route, and return via Bonney Pass back to your camp at Titcomb Basin.

Long alpine grade III from Titcomb Basin.

Essential Gear

The essential gear depends on the conditions and the time of year. The route is either 45 degree snow climb with several hundred feet of 4th or easy 5th class rock or it can be about 1,500-1,700 feet of 45 degree ice with the same  rock ending. The route can be absolutely wonderful mixed climb in late September and October. Our pictures show the conditions on last day of August, 2005. We brought two ice tools each, crampons, one 8 mm rope, four wired stoppers and six ice screws. The terrain was easy enough so that we used neither rope, rock or ice hardware.  Again, later in the season, this would be a wonderful and long ice and rock climb and the gear might be revised (more ice gear). Average round trip from Titcomb Basin might be some 12-16 hours for a very strong party or 16-20 hours for average team. The route was first climbed and named in JULY of 1929 by Henry Hall, Kenneth Henderson and Robert Underhill, all very famous names of the early US climbing scene. The harder the snow is, the more technical the route becomes. In late season (Sept/Oct and from upper Titcomb Basin Camp), I would not hesitate to rate the round trip as a very long, technical Grade IV.

Miscellaneous Info

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