Southeast Ridge

Page Type: Route
Lat/Lon: 40.26300°N / 105.6563°W
Route Type: climb
Time Required: Most of a day
Difficulty: class 4 & 5


Approach written by Smudge

Enter the National Park at the Beaver Meadows Entrance, take your first left onto Bear Lake Road. Continue down Bear Lake Road until you get to the Glacier Gorge parking lot and trailhead.

Once on the trail, follow signs to Mills Lake, and on to Black Lake. Black Lake is 4.7 miles from the trailhead. Here is where you make you decision on how to get to Stone Man Pass.

You can head left (south) from Black Lake, which takes you to the shelf directly above the lake to the West. Turn to the North, where McHenrys and Stone Man Pass (South Southeast of the peak) will be clearly visible. The trail will lead you close to the base of the Spearhead, and close to Frozen Lake (this is a wonderful lake and is worth a short side trip if you feel you have the energy). The trail will lead you across increasingly steepening slabs of exposed granite to the base of the gully that leads to Stone Man Pass.

Another option is to head North, along the forested banks of of Black Lake. This will lead you up a steep slope to the base of the Arrowhead. From here, pick the best way up the layers of small cliffs (7 to 15 feet high) to the shelf North of Black Lake (this can be VERY tricky if it's icy!!). Once on the shelf, head to the base of the gully to Stone Man Pass. This will save you a good deal of distance at the expense of some MUCH steeper terrain.

The gully that leads to Stone Man is full of tiresome scree. However, it went by a lot quicker then I expected. This can also be full, completely, of snow well into July.

Route Description

Look for Colonalpyat wearing a red helmet on the bottom left.

From Stone Man Pass (12,400-ft), immediately gain the ridge crest and begin an easy class 3 scramble up solid blocks. At about 12,850-ft the ridge suddenly jumps up with a series of steep pitches. Because of this section of ridge, the standard route traverses across the south face to easier, ledge ridden, terrain.

From here, you’ll notice that there are not too many choices as for picking your line up the remainder of the ridge to the summit. Going forward, the route is set up in steep class 4 and 5 sections of ridge with a few areas of easy class 3 scrambling in-between. You pretty much have no choice but to commit and stick to the ridge crest. It will be obvious as to which side of the crest to generally stay on, for the east side of the ridge includes a precipitous drop-off down into Glacier Gorge. Any single move from the crest should be to the west. The west side isn’t as exposed but any slip here could and most likely would be fatal as well.

From 12,900-ft, do some class 4 climbing up the large blocks that make up the remainder of the route. You may have to negotiate an easy class 5 move or two before you reach a col at about 13,000-ft.

From here you can survey the remaining 300-vertical feet to the summit. It is steep, and exposed but it does go. This portion of the climb contains the crux of the route, an airy and awkward class 5 move across a deep crevasse onto a steep slab of rock.

Climb the big blocks of granite until you reach a spot where a deep crevasse in the ridge stops your climb (class 4 and 5). This crevasse looked to be about 30-ft deep, and didn’t look like a nice place to fall into. From here, make an exposed and committing class 5 move onto the steep block to the left of the crevasse. This move requires a thorough search for handholds and footholds. When you find them, they are not ideal in any way, but with a little strength and balls you can pull yourself up and away from the crevasse and onto the steep block of granite. From here, ascend the class 4 ridge to the summit.

Descend the standard South Face Route.