Northwest Chute

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Class 3-4

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Northwest Chute
Created On: Jul 16, 2007
Last Edited On: Jul 16, 2007


This route (undescribed by Secor) is a loose, busted up chute that leads directly from the upper reaches of the drainage above LaSalle Lake to the summit itself.

As an ascent, it would be a slog through lots of sand and scree. As a descent route, however, it is perfect. It provides convenient access to the Southeast/East side of Feather Peak (where all the non-technical routes are), without having to do the reportedly intense routefinding along Royce's NW Ridge.


This is the tricky part. The approach to the route is either...

-Pine Creek Area: from the Pine Creek Trailhead, make your way to Royce Lakes Basin (via either Royce Pass or Pine Creek Pass). Climb the Feather/Royce Saddle (a potentially 60 degree snow/ice climb). Descend a few hundred feet on the other side to the base of the chute.

-Merriam Lake/Upper French Canyon Area: make your way to Merriam Lake, either from Piute Pass, the JMT, or Pine Creek Pass. Ascend up the drainage, past LaSalle Lake, towards the Feather/Royce Saddle. The chute will be on your right.

As a descent route... climb Royce from one of the other routes. From the summit, there is another summit of almost equal height to the NW. As you start to traverse over, look down to the left, and you will see the chute descending straight from the summit. Scramble down into the chute from some rocks at a lowpoint between the two summits.

Route Description

There are a number of chutes ascending the Northwest Face of Royce. The correct chute is the second from the left. In other words, rising directly from the Feather/Royce Saddle is the NW Ridge, and next to this (to the west, or right as you are looking up at the face) there is a chute (which ends at the ridge). To the west, or right, of that chute is the correct chute, which rises directly to the summit. See the pictures below for more on choosing the correct chute.

The chute is sand and talus, mostly just junk, for the first 600 vertical feet or so. Just steep, easy Class 2. At some point you will come to some sandy, wet, and steep slabs. These looked like they just melted off recently (as of July 14, '07), and so probably hold snow late in normal years. They were slippery and insecure Class 3-4, with occaisional easy bypasses either in narrow dihedrals on the left, or sandy chutes on the right. This is probably only 150 vertical feet. The remaining 350 vertical feet or so are mixed sand and large blocks, which makes for easy and pleasant going at easy class 3. At the summit, you'll come to headwall, which goes at Class 3-4 to the left. The summit is essentially directly overhead at this point.

Essential Gear

Scree gaiters. Water.