Follow the "North Ridge via Bighorn Canyon" route to the summit of North Traverse Peak.
Note: This route described here will leave you at the Deluge Creek Trailhead (DCT), 1.5 miles up the road from the Bighorn Creek Trailhead where you began. Plan in advance. We dropped bikes at the DCT before the hike to allow a quick ride down the frontage road to our car.
From the summit of North Traverse Peak, the route to Grand Traverse Peak is obvious: follow the distinct ridge heading south, then east. The ridge begins easily enough, with plenty of exposure but easy scrambling on solid rock. Enjoy the amazing 360° views.
The first part of the ridge is the easiest and most aesthetic, and you can stay directly on the ridgecrest for most of it. If direct progress is blocked, dropping a few feet to climber's right will enable quick passage.
The first (and only) real challenge is met in the second half of the route, after about 30 minutes along the ridge. You will arrive at a notch with a steep, blocky headwall directly in front of you (see photos). This headwall looks more difficult than it is, and can be climbed directly to the summit of this gendarme. From the top of this gendarme, you must do a tricky downclimb, beginning on (climber's) left of the ridge, and traversing around to climber's right to another notch in the ridge. This downclimb is the crux of the route, with plenty of exposure and plenty of rubble on the ledges to keep your attention...
After this obstacle is passed, the crest of the ridge can be regained, and any subsequent difficulties passed by short ventures off the ridge to climber's right. Along the way, you must also descend a few feet here and there to cross several couloirs on the west side of the ridge. Pass a final "false summit" en route to the final summit tower that can be climbed directly via several possible cracks/chimneys. We found a nice hand crack in a crease that took us abruptly to the summit after about 2 hours of climbing (from the summit of N. Traverse Peak).
Descend via the tedious "East Ridge/Southeast Face" route described for Grand Traverse Peak to Deluge Lake, and pick up the Deluge Creek Trail down the mountain.
Note: This descent will leave you at the Deluge Creek Trailhead (DCT), 1.5 miles up the road from the Bighorn Creek Trailhead where you began. Plan in advance. We dropped a bike at the DCT before the hike to allow a quick ride down the frontage road to our car.
A good solo, maybe a short piece of rope for the crux downclimb for those uncomfortable with big exposure. Brain buckets are recommended.
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