South Ridge

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 3

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South Ridge
Created On: Jan 27, 2005
Last Edited On: Jan 27, 2005


This is an easy route except for one little issue: some steep sections of crap rock. Might be much nicer if it was covered by snow. The ridge is indistinct at first, becomes distinct in a short knife-edge bit, then gives way to a gully climb for the last stretch to the top.

Getting There
One can choose to approach via Silver Creek for a camp at Silver Lake or via Depot Creek for a camp at Ouzel Lake. The latter approach to camp is easier than the former. However, the route to the summit is slightly longer and requires more elevation gain from Ouzel Lake. For a description on how to get to those respective camps, see the approaches on the Main Page.

Route toward Pt. 8385

If camped at the east end of 6,763-ft Silver Lake you should be able to see there is Mt. Custer and its South Ridge to the west. There are cliffs that come down to the north side of the lake. Walk the north shore westward below these cliffs. As the shore turns southwestward follow it but also begin making a long upward traverse. You will be aiming to climb below a small red buttress that comes down to about 7,600 ft. Or you can try to climb up the east side of the buttress to gain its crest, then walk this crest to its top. Once around or atop the buttress, climb up to Pt. 8385, which is the flat crest not the rocky crag further south.

If camped at 5,700-ft Ouzel Lake, climb northeast from its north side up the obvious wide gully that leads to the 7,380-ft Custer-Spickard Saddle. Mt. Rahm will be visible to the northeast. Mt. Custer may be out of sight still to the left. Climb left (north) out of the saddle up ~200 feet of Class 3 rock or contour right around this rock. Above the terrain flattens out briefly in a small basin east of Pt. 8205. Now either continue directly up the ridge over a rocky crag (Pt. 8360+) or contour right to avoid it if it looks too cliffy. Ascend as necessary to Pt. 8385.

Pt. 8385 to Summit

From Pt. 8385 drop ~100 feet to a saddle (8,240+ ft). This drop goes along a moderately knife-edged crest. The rock is loose but the climbing is no harder than Class 3. Look up above to decipher the route beyond the saddle. Scramble through the talus saddle and up the other side on unimaginably chossy rock. It is probably best to stay on the west side of the crest.

As the ridge steepens again you will be forced a little left to avoid Class 4 rock. However, going left means you'll have to climb up a Class 3 gully. You may find the climbing on ribs between gullies more enjoyable. I don't know. We only came down this way (we traversed over to Custer from Mt. Rahm).

The last stretch to the top is still chossy but its only Class 2/3.

Time from Silver Lake camp = 2 hours; Distance = 1.5 miles; Gain = 1,900 ft.
Time from Ouzel Lake camp = 3 hours; Distance = 2.0 miles; Gain = 2,900 ft.

Descend the way you came. Or, if you did a carry-over from a high camp, drop down the west side back to the Depot Creek Trail. Or, if you wish to scramble over to Mt. Rahm, see the Rahm-Custer Traverse page.

Essential Gear

Ice axe in early season. Helmet (a good idea but not completely necessary).
Gag to keep yourself from shouting imprecations at all the chossy rock you encounter.