The NE ridge is a beautiful winding class 4 climb that starts from the saddle between Peak 12266 and Giraud Peak. It is not for the faint hearted, as there is much exposure and some route finding involved. The approach is very time consuming, and can be done in a long day, though may require a night back country camping for some.
After crossing the Dusy Branch begin climbing up the slabs and talus toward a very prominent notch on the NW ridge of Peak 12,266ft. Traverse around the ridge to the West side and enter the valley on the other side. The ridge may be directly ascended, though the climbing is most likely class 4+(unknown). Make your way through the talus and giant boulders toward the saddle between Giraud Peak and Peak 12,266ft. One can either ascend the easy class 2 scree/talus chutes directly to the saddle, or climb class 3/4(mostly class 3) rock up the East Face of Peak 12,266ft. From the saddle the true route begins. Cross over an easy highpoint between
the initial saddle and a second one. Like the first saddle, this second one can also be ascended directly via talus/sand/snow on the west side. Now it gets harder.
The initial class 4 section.
Ascend class 4 rock directly up the ridge line for approximately 100ft. From here it is necessary to traverse on ledges around the South side of the ridge line. A short step around brings one to a very broad ledge at the base of a 30ft class 5 cliff. There is a crack leading up/down the middle of this face that can be climbed(exposure is minimal). This brings you to the first knife edge section. A smooth 45-50 degree granite slab with a series of 6" deep cracks that run across the North Face. The next section is more beautiful class 3/4 rock as you climb directly along the ridge.
The second knife edge section. Stretching around the boulder.
The final knife edge section lies approximately half way up the ridge. The entrance to this section is blocked by a large boulder sitting directly atop the ridge. One method to navigate this obstacle is to hug the knife edge directly at the base of the boulder and inch your feet across 4ft of blank slab to a crack on the other side of the boulder. For those with longer arms (Bob Burd's) one can bear hug the boulder and mantle straight over it. The remainder of the knife edge is a series of shallow cracks you can tip toe along, once again with some nice exposure. It is possible to traverse class 2/3 ledges around this section, though I could not begin to recount the route I took.
After climbing another couple hundred feet of class 3/4 along the ridge you are presented with the option of traversing into a dark colored class 2 scree chute on the SE face. The rock along the ridge is much more enjoyable to climb, though more technically challenging. Ascend directly to the summit. There are several large blocks on the summit that make for nice picture sites.
The upper section of the NE ridge.
During normal summer conditions (typically July-Sept) no special equiptment is required. Simply the nerve and ability to climb class 4. Early season may see the need for an axe and crampons when climbing Bishop Pass and on the ascent to the saddle between Peak 12,266ft and Giraud Peak.
Several Photo Albums from the 2006 Sierra Challenge climb of Giraud Peak.