North Ridge

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 3

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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North Ridge
Created On: Jul 17, 2012
Last Edited On: Jul 17, 2012


Follow the Canyon Creek trail up past Upper Canyon Creek Lake. As you hike past the upper lake, and before you reach the stream that drains L Lake, a well-ducked use trail leads up and to the right, taking you to L Lake. This is a popular and well-traveled route.

Once you reach L Lake, you have a couple of options, neither of which is particularly good. Hints of a poor trail lead you through boggy meadows on the west side before abandoning you when you need it most; some mildly annoying bushwhacking and sidehilling are necessary to make it past the lake. The east side is not much better; an equally poor trail takes you through wet meadows on that side too, before giving up amidst a boulder field.

Whichever way you go, once you're past the lake, hike up grassy slopes and talus towards the peak. There is a cliff band part-way up these slopes, broken by a chute that seems to hold moderately steep snow through the summer. You can climb this chute (ice axe advisable), wet class 3-4 slabs to its left, or find easier terrain even further left (east) for the descent.

Above this minor obstacle, there are a couple of options for gaining the north ridge. The most direct is simply to head straight up over snow and a tedious moraine; above this mess, an easy scramble over broken rock leads up to a small saddle on the north ridge, right before the ridge steepens. A better option for the ascent is to avoid the moraine and instead aim for a small notch in the ridge much further north. The chute up to the notch is blocked by a small, awkward chockstone, which can be bypassed on the right (class 3). Once atop the ridgecrest, it is an easy walk along the ridge to the start of the scramble.

Route Description

A precise description of the route is difficult to give. There are many possible variations, and even the class 3 route often involves looking around hidden corners to find an easy bypass for problems.

Follow the north ridge to a point where steep blocks/cracks make further passage harder. A traverse around to the left (east) leads to more broken terrain, which can be scrambled up to a ledge/ramp system just below the ridge crest. You can either scramble up to the crest of the ridge again, or follow this ramp system up to the middle summit. There is a USGS Sawtooth benchmark here, but the actual highpoint (and summit register) is on the pinnacle to the south.

Continue along the ridge, dropping down a short way to the saddle between the middle and south summit. The view from here may be discouraging; steep cliffs bar appear to bar passage on either side of the ridge. Fortunately, there is an easy scramble directly along the crest of the ridge. Climb the broken, darker rock leading up from the saddle (easier on the left side), which offers access down to broken ledges on the right (west) side of the ridge. Traverse up and right along these ledges, following a class 3 weakness up the west side of the summit rocks.


Ice axe if you're planning on climbing the snow chute and/or descending the snowfield on the peak's north slopes.

North Ridge

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