The west ridge traverse provides an alternative to the southwest slope/northwest ridge route to Mount Valhalla’s summit. Although the traverse looks more circuitous, it avoids a lot of steep scree, and it has an airy beauty. It’s reasonably fast: two middle-aged mortals moving at a civilized pace can make it from Deluge Lake to the summit in less than two hours.
Hike the Deluge Lake Trail four miles and 3,000 vertical feet from Vail to Deluge Lake, as described on the main page for Mount Valhalla. The route starts at Deluge Lake.
From Deluge Lake’s northwest inlet, climb north, mostly on grassy slopes, to the saddle between Grand Traverse Peak (13,041) and point 12,670. Turn east and traverse the ridge toward Mount Valhalla. We stayed close to the crest, scrambling over several easy gendarmes but going around the northernmost one on ledges just south of the crest. At this point the route becomes a grassy ridge-top walk past an interesting tower to the base of Valhalla’s summit cone. The cone itself is a short, unexposed, class-3 scramble.
To descend, one can either retrace the traverse or descend the scree on the southwest slope. I recommend wearing a helmet on the latter route, which sheds loose rocks with no apparent provocation.
We wore helmets. There’s not enough exposure to justify a rope. In early summer I’d carry an ice axe. Even in late summer an ice axe or trekking pole might be useful in descending the southwest slope.