South Ridge via West Fork Trailhead

South Ridge via West Fork Trailhead

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.08720°N / 107.5331°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Very Steep Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


The approach to Redcliff is via the Wetterhorn Basin Trail. From the trailhead it is approximately 1.5 miles to the point at about 11,400 feet where you leave the trail to begin the steep ascent up to the Redcliff/Coxcomb saddle. The saddle is just over a mile from this point with a vertical climb of over 1,700 feet.

Route Description

From the point where you leave the Wetterhorn Basin Trail the saddle between Redcliff and Coxcomb is your goal. After an initial climb to about 12,100 feet the terrain flattens slightly. During late July, 2005 three small waterfalls were visible from this point. It is quite obvious that you should stay to the left or north of these falls to avoid cliffs.

From the flatter area the route up to the saddle gets steeper, less grassy, and more loose rock the higher you get. There is nothing that exceeds really steep Class 2, unless you consider all fours scrambling easy Class 3. The last hundred vertical feet or so is a little frustrating but is manageable if you take your time to scout the route above prior to proceeding. Don’t give up here because you are only a short distance from some of the best views in the San Juans.

Once to the saddle at approximately 13,150 feet take some time to be amazed by the profile of Wetterhorn from this angle prior to making the relatively easy Class 2 rock scramble to the summit about a half mile to the north.

Essential Gear

During the July to September summer season, typical above treeline gear will do. High top hiking boots will save your ankles on the steep slopes up to the saddle between Redcliff and Coxcomb. Early in the season, Crampons and ice-axe would be necessary. Make sure you are comfortable with the avalanche risk/conditions before attempting this steep route. Remember to be conscious of climbers below if you knock any rocks loose below the saddle by yelling "ROCK!" until you see it stop.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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