North Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.08800°N / 105.633°W
Additional Information Route Type: snow to technical rock and scrambling
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.6, II
Sign the Climber's Log


Follow the normal approach from Brainard Lake up to Mitchell Lake, and on to Blue Lake. Circle around the North side of Blue Lake, and head up and North to the saddle between Mt. Toll and Paiute Peak. There was some snow and rock on the way up to the saddle when I did the route in mid-July, and I used my ice axe.

Route Description

The climb begins at the saddle North of Mt. Toll. Generally, the climbing is easier but looser to the West (climber's right), and harder but more solid to the East. There's a lot of options up this ridge, but here's what I did:

I started up and right an obvious 5.0 ramp then stepped left to short 5.6 crack that was a little bit wet and had some plants in it. After this first crux, I continued up, and then traversed right around a large boulder. I climbed above and left around the boulder to a ~20 foot tall chimney with a fixed pin at the top which is visible from the bottom of the chimney. The chimney is the crux of this route - be careful of the large loose block at the top.

A short bit of 4th class ground leads to the large ledge. More (and perhaps more difficult) climbing continues straight up the buttress, but I went right, traversing West along the ledge for about 30 feet. An obvious gully lead upward to the summit with one more 5.5 move. I believe that continuing the traverse around would lead to some 4th class scrambling to the summit as well.

Essential Gear

It's a 5.6 alpine route, so it depends on conditions, your ability, etc. Some may be comfortable soloing it in hiking boots, some may want a extra big rack. My rough judgement would be that a 5.7 leader might want a rope, a set of nuts, a half a dozen draws, and a cordolette for the anchor. A 5.9 leader (alpine rock) could probably solo it, but would want at least a half set of nuts and 3 draws to set up anchors if they were bringing someone less experienced up as an into to alpine climbing type trip.

An ice axe can be handy for a short section of the approach, and for the long glissade descent.

In the comments, it has been suggested that you should bring more gear. I believe that you shouldn't set out underprepared for the mountains, so have an escape plan if your rack is light.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Kane - Oct 2, 2003 10:17 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Author: lavaka
Date: Oct 19, 2002 05:02 AM
I tried climbing Toll's North Ridge this summer and succeeded in making it to the top, though probably off-route. From the ridge, Roach described three moderate pitches of 5.6. Instead, the obvious line to me started with a drawn out pitch of about 50 m of 5.0 or so (I'm pretty sure I didn't confuse the route with the class 4 gulleys on the west side). This was to the west of the main (and quite steep) actually ridge itself. Next was a very short pitch of about 5.7 or 5.8 - harder than I was prepared for, and a little mossy. There were two short crack systems that provided the difficulty, and I took the first one, thinking it looked easier, which may have been a mistake. My partner was unable to climb this section without aid. After the short, steep section, it changed into 3rd and 4th class scrambling to the top, which didn't take long. So we did a route that was enjoyable, but most likely it wasn't the North Ridge route - though I don't know where I went wrong.
Additionally, on the approach to the ridge, we decided to go over the small, low-angle snowfield at it's base. However, as of July in 2002 (when there was a severe drought) it was extremely icy and it took us over an hour to cross about 70m or low-angle ice, chopping steps with rocks (and my partner once sliding to the bottom and having to restart). The entire route if fun, though, and more exciting than many due to its seldom-climbed nature.


ben - Aug 24, 2006 8:32 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Disagree on Gear

Fair enough - you're free to wonder whatever you like. I may be misreading your comment, but your first sentence seems more about attacking me personally than offering a correction to my description. I've revised the gear section a bit and added a sentence that some people think you should bring more stuff, but I'd personally be a bit more open to your suggestions if they didn't come across as attacks. Although I admit that I was pretty happy about the climb back when I wrote it up - it was a great day in the mountains - my intent wasn't to spew, but rather to suggest that there are a wide variety of options. I still believe that someone comfortable leading 5.9 alpine rock would find plenty of protection for their second via almost any route variation if their rack consisted of every other size nut. I also wrote that someone who was comfortable at a lower grade might want more gear. Style is a question of personal preference, and you're welcome to bring all the gear you'd like. You can throw in a lot of extra weight, and be prepared for anything. No skin off my back. I stand by my gear description, though. As to your other point ("Also, why would someone looking for a rock climb try to hit the easiest route?") Well, when I happened to be there, I was looking for a quick morning trip in the mountains. I was soloing and didn't want to get in over my head. There could be plenty of other reasons for other people as well. If you're looking for the toughest lines, I'm sure you're right that there are other routes. That's not what the intent of this route description was, though. This page describes the route I took, which happens to be a standard route. You're welcome to go do, and then write-up, some really hardcore aid routes, if you'd like to carry lots of weight and climb hard things. I hope you had a fun time on Toll!


ben - Aug 27, 2006 6:27 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Disagree on Gear

Thanks for the quick clarification - appology accepted and no hard feelings on my part. I'll leave our conversation on the page because I think it may be useful for other people to see, and am glad that my edit improved the description a bit. Thanks for your suggestions!

johnmorrone - Sep 8, 2008 10:13 am - Hasn't voted

alternative finish- N ridge

B. Davidson and I did this alt. finish on 9/6/08, with a dusting of new snow, minor verglass, dang cold wind blowing, and frozen feet: Once at the big ledge above the chimney, traverse only 100 feet right to the first breach in the wall, and go up slabs to a belay stance. Last pitch is then up broken 'steps" and a left-facing corner (hidden fixed angle 3/4 up) for a long (60m) pitch of 5.5-5.6. This ends on the summit ridge about a 100 foot walk north of the summit. It finishes the route as 4 pitches (or 3 long 60 m) of mid 5th class with only 2 pitches of 4th class. PS: minimal snow encountered accessing climb, in September no sun on route, and minor fresh snow stayed cold and dry through noon. Bring extra warm clothes!

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