North Ridge Direct (winter)

North Ridge Direct (winter)

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 36.24140°N / 115.6106°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.3 (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: M3
Sign the Climber's Log


Follow the directions in the 'Getting There' section.

Route Description

From the parking area along Kyle Canyon Road, you can see the prominent and cliffy toe of the north ridge looming a thousand feet above the road to the south. From this vantage point, the summit is not visible.

Start heading cross country and up as the terrain steepens quickly and considerably. You are aiming straight for the cliffs (a sort of headwall) visible ahead of you on the north ridge. The route finding is simple as your first objective is hard to miss.

Once the headwall is reached, rather than traverse to the east toward the notch mentioned in the North Ridge route page, look for a 20-foot chimney leading to a ledge above you. The mixed climbing found in this semi-exposed chimney is around 5.3. Protection is hard to come by, but not impossible to find, and free climbing, assuming you are up to it, seems the way to go.

Once the top of the chimney is reached, it appears that easier ground is to the left (east) - wrong! Traverse to the west (right) on a narrow and exposed snowy rock ledge and down-climb a short but exposed class 3 mixed section, until you come to a wide sort of chute leading you upward on easier ground.

Once the chute is found, head upward on whatever terrain seems comfortable. The climbing in the chute is easy class 3, though it is mixed and fairly exposed.

* (Note: There may be easier alternatives directly up the headwall but I have not found them. The chimney-ledge-chute variation seems to be the easiest way to get up. There could possibly be some class 4 variations further west along the headwall but I have not explored the possibility.)

Work your way up the chute as it steers you toward the west-southwest . Once the top of the chute is gained, head back east and up on easier ground toward the ridge crest above. While doing so, some marvelous vistas of Kyle Canyon open up below you.

Though still steep in places, once the ridge crest is reached, the remainder of the route is at a moderate angle and the remaining objective is clear: Follow the ridge, fighting the frequent brushy areas and attempting to stay near the crest, all the way to the summit.

To descend, retrace your steps (to some degree).

* The down-climb of the chute, the ledge, and the chimney is hard to protect and not recommended. Rather, while traveling down the ridge from the summit, start looking for a nice spot to down-climb the ridge on the east side not too terribly far from the toe (this is described on the North Ridge route page). Earlier on, it's a little easier to keep the climbing in the short, class 3 realm. When I did it, my partner and I picked a nice 70-80 foot chimney and rappeled down it to meet up with the traverse (see North Ridge route page) below. Remember that the further you traverse back down the ridge, the larger the cliffs and the steeper the climbing required to get back down to where you want to be. A rope and a rap is nice on the lower portion of the ridge (though certainly not necessary if you keep your eyes peeled for suitable terrain for your skills).

The roundtrip stats are around 5 miles with a little over 3000 feet of gain.

Essential Gear

Typical winter climbing gear.

Ropes are necessary only for those uncomfortable with low 5th class mixed climbing (ascending the headwall) and those particularly uncomfortable with steep snowy traverses.

Also, as mentioned above, there are great opportunities for rappels from the ridge crest down to the traverse on the east side of the ridge on the descent. You might wanna bring a rope to give yourself a more enjoyable option to a short, boring down-climb and a longer traverse at the bottom of the cliffs.

The cliffs near the toe of the ridge can be anywhere from 5 feet on the upper part of the lower ridge (if that makes sense) to 200+ feet on the lower part of the ridge. Anchors are not too difficult to find. If unaccustomed to limestone, be aware that it tends to be rather sharp and very tough on your rope.


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