This is the ridge that divides Stairs Gulch
from Broads Fork
. From the ridgeline one has excellent views of Mule Hollow Wall
, the NE Face of Storm Mtn
(which can seldom be seen anywhere else), Sunrise Pk, & Mt Dromedary
. Apart from the secenery, the route has some interesting scrambling and is a little shorter and less tedious than the Storm Mountain/BF Twins Traverse
Another reason is that this may possibly be an even better route than the Hounds Tooth Ridge
for safe winter ascents, as the approach and ridge are free of avalanche danger. The route does cross some large slabs above Broads Fork, where glide avalanches may occur in springtime, but the Hounds Tooth also crosses similar slabs above Stairs Gulch. Although both of these routes are relatively safe winter routes for the BF Twins, use caution regarding cornices on the ridge and glide avalanching during the spring-time thaws.
Drive 4.2 miles up the canyon from the neon sign at the mouth of BCC. Park at the Broads Fork/Mill Fork B trailhead and head up Broads Fork trail, which heads to the west (near end of the parking lot).
Follow the trail as it traverses into Broads Fork and crosses a stream on a bridge. From here, you will gain the ridge in different ways depending on the conditions.
When there is more snow on the ground, cut right and up towards the ridge whenever a good clearing presents itself, starting around 7,000 ft. In the summer this approach is very brushy, but if you hike up the trail until a small meadow is reached (ca. 7,300 ft), one can hike cross-country to the ridgeline with a little easy bushwacking.
Once on the ridge, stay on it as you climb higher. At 8,880 there is a flat spot on the ridge that could make a decent campsite. At 9,240 ft, there is a slight bowl in a flat area that would make a great winter campsite. Just above this the slabs are reache at ca. 9,600 ft.
The slabs are polished quartzite, and as a result, can be very slippery, so be careful! In the winter you can probably just continue up the ridge as it is covered in a deep snowpack. In the summer, once the glide avalanches have fully uncovered the slabs, you can just traverse around about 80 ft below the ridge top. Climbing this route when only part of the snowpack has avalanched could be dangerous, and the climing difficulty to get around the remaining walls of snow likely exceed class 3.
As you traverse, the slab ends in a sudden 20 ft dropoff. Scramble back up to the ridgeline and downclimb a chimney (cl. 3) to get off the slab. From here one scrambles along the knife-edge ridge crest (cl. 2-3) until 10,000 ft. Here the ridge merges with the Robinson variation and the Storm Mountain/BF Twins Traverse. Ascend the 500 ft headwall, which is about 25-30 degrees and is still a slightly rounded ridge. This puts you on the Traverse from Storm Mountain, and past the crux of the route.
At the top of the headwall, follow the ridgeline south east (left) for another 0.25 miles and 1,000 ft gain toward the Broads Fork Twins Summit.
During the summer months, a pair of trail running shoes can work just fine. Crampons and an ice axe may be needed even in the middle of the summer.
In the winter, snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, and avalanche safety gear are a must.