Southwest Chutes

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

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Southwest Chutes
Created On: Jun 22, 2012
Last Edited On: Jun 22, 2012


The Southwest Face of Mt. Francis Farquhar is a busy jumble of chutes and broken rock. The chutes are easier on the left side, more difficult as one moves to the right. Three described here are class 3, others may also be class 3 but appear more difficult.

Getting There

All routes on the southwest side of Francis Farquhar start at Sphinx Lakes. The lakes are most easily reached by first hiking up the Sphinx Creek Trail, then leaving it where it crosses the creek and heading cross-country up Sphinx Creek. Be warned this cross-country bit is not generally pleasant, consisting of mosquito-infested bogs, boulder fields and lots of elevation gain as one climbs a series of cirques up the creek drainage.

From the largest of the Sphinx Lakes, most of the detail on the Southwest Face is hidden from view, but the large notch on the Northwest Ridge is obvious from here. This notch is also shown on the 7.5' topo map. The leftmost chute (Secor's) leads to this notch. Hike ESE from the lake up the drainage until you are closer to the Southwest Face.

Route Description

Secor describes a class 3 route called the Northwest Ridge in his book that takes place mostly on the Southwest Face. Secor's chute starts to the left and makes an ascending scramble to the right, leading to the notch. Follow the right branch where it splits just below the notch and follow this to the ridge and then to the summit which will be to the southeast. This is the easiest route on the SW Face, but appears to have more talus and boulders by comparison.
Third chuteThird chute on SW Face

A second chute can be found to the right of Secor's chute, starting at the top of the highest talus fan found on this side of the mountain. Though it appears difficult at the bottom, this route is also class 3 and makes for a more enjoyable scramble. The bottom is a series of steep steps that can be scrambled into the more identifiable chute above, and like Secor's chute, makes an ascending scramble to the right. It ends just north of the summit. This is the finer of the two main chutes, in the author's opinion.
Second Chute, bottom staircaseThe staircase scramble at the bottom of the second chute.

A third chute is located further to the right, splitting into two branches several hundred feet below the summit ridge. The left branch leads to a point just north of the summit (near where the second chute tops out), the right branch leads to the South Ridge. There are no reported climbs in this chute but it appears to be class 3 as well.

Other chutes even further to the right are shorter but more difficult, and lead to the South Ridge. They deserve more attention as potentially interesting climbs.

Essential Gear

Sturdy shoes, but no climbing gear is required.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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asmrz - Jun 22, 2012 7:24 pm - Voted 10/10

The Bob Burd Staircase

Penelope May-Smrz and I scrambled up the second Southwest Chute on June 20, 2012. We found the class 3 route to be clean, rocky Staircase that was joy to scramble on. Bob Burd might have been the first one to scramble up this fine route in 2010. Pen and I thought that a much better name for this scramble would be "The Bob Burd Staircase" rather than "Southwest Chute #2" or something vague like that. Near the summit, we found a nice steel summit box, but no register in it, only a few entries on scraps of paper. If you consider climbing this peak, please bring a note book and a pen. I have attached a few photos so you can see for yourself how nice the Staircase really is.

P.S. I have had couple of weeks (today is July 12, 2012) to think about this little (1,800') scramble. I must say that I don't remember when Pen and I had a better time in the Sierra. This "Bob Burd Staircase" is one of the best 3rd class routes I have ever scrambled on, I'm not kidding...

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Southwest Chutes

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