Southwest Route

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 48.56400°N / 120.82506°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log
Graybeard PeakGraybeard from the open basin to its west.
The couloir of the Southwest Route is right of center in the shade (below the prominent notch in the right hand ridge)


From the trailhead to Easy Pass:

Distance: 3.5 miles Vertical: 2800 feet

Easy Pass Trail Description

From Easy Pass to the summit:

Distance: about 1.3 miles Vertical: about 1400 feet

Beckey names this the Southwest Route, so we will go with that. The part of the route actually on the mountain is a definite west south west facing couloir.

This route can be climbed most any time after the snow consolidates in the Spring and because of the amount of very loose talus and scree in the couloir, it is probably best done while there is still snow there.

Trip Report - Spring climb with snow - includes photos

Trip Report - Spring with snow, but not as much as above - includes photos

We climbed it in September with no snow and thought the couloir was talus / scree hell. I must have repressed this fact from my solo climb of 29 years ago.


Graybeard SW RouteOn the traverse - expand for peak IDs

Traverse southeasterly from Easy Pass to the open basin at the west base of the mountain. You need to traverse at an elevation even with or a little lower than the elevation of Easy Pass to avoid the cliffs between the pass and the mountain. Note that there is a very good social trail from the pass leading up the ridge to the southeast. This trail can be used to gain some easy distance, but upon leaving it you will need to descend to about the level of the pass to avoid the cliffs.

Avoid the problems outlined here: Off-Route on Graybeard

Once in the open basin, the couloir and your route to its base are obvious.

Route Description

Ascend the couloir to its top. Just below the top there is a short class 4 chimney followed by a bit of scrambling to the notch in the ridge crest. Climb out of the notch (climber’s left) on to the ridge – class 3 or 4. It is a short walk along the ridge to the summit. Warning – loose rock both on the ledges and in place in both the chimney and the notch.

The last section (chimney and notch) has been described by some as class 5 and it may be with snow and ice. Beckey says: “A 25-ft notch requires climbing (class 3 or 4).” We concur - with dry conditions. There were no rappel slings in place when we climbed the route indicating that the last people there down climbed it as did we.

Variation: This Trip Report describes a variation bypassing the chimney and notch at the top of the couloir by traversing climber's left to another chimney.


Expand images for detailed captions on the second and last photos.

Graybeard SW RouteIn the couloir
Graybeard SW RouteIn the couloir
Graybeard SW RouteClimbing out of the notch
Graybeard SW RouteOn summit ridge



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