Northwest Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.24940°N / 105.6414°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Scrambling
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 3
Sign the Climber's Log


From the Glacier Gorge trailhead at approximately 9200 ft, follow the directions for Mills Lake. Continue past Mills and Jewel lakes to reach, in about 5 mi from the trailhead, Black Lake at the foot of the shelf delimiting the upper Glacier Gorge cirque. From there, you need to reach Stone Man Pass. This can be done in two ways. The standard approach is to continue along the trail, which follows the East shore of the lake and then climbs to the top of the aforementioned shelf. From there, cross in the SW direction (some krummholz navigation required) aiming for the ridge that connects Chiefs Head to McHenrys Peak. Climb the very loose scree that leads to the pass that is at the corner formed by the ridge and McHenrys.
The second approach to Stone Man Pass is to climb the slabs that descend from McHenrys Peak to the NW shore of Black Lake. This second approach is shorter but harder; it is not recommended when the slabs are wet. The round-trip distance using the first approach is about 15 miles.

Route Description

From Stone Man Pass one can see the long arc that the NW ridge traces in reaching the summit of Chiefs Head Peak. The ridge is interrupted by a cliff band, cut by four main gullies. The two leftmost end on the North face of Chiefs Head, while the other two lead to the upper part of the ridge. Climb the third gully on loose scree and talus. Alternatively, traverse on a ledge to the fourth gully. In return for a longer, exposed, and slightly harder route, one enjoys spectacular views of Lake Powell. The ledge is easily seen between the third and fourth gullies, but in fact cuts the entire cliff band. To minimize the loss of elevation from Stone Man Pass, one can aim for the nearest end of the ledge and then traverse it to the third gully. From the top of the cliff band, walk along the interminable last half mile of the ridge, which gradually thins until, on the summit, it is only some ten feet wide.

Essential Gear

Standard hiking gear. Crampons and axe likely to be needed early in the season. There is some danger of rock fall on Stone Man Pass and in the gullies: a helmet may be useful.

Miscellaneous Info

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