West Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.42310°N / 106.1228°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 3
Sign the Climber's Log


Start from the Mayflower Gulch TH, and follow the 4WD road for 1.5 miles to a cluster of old cabins beneath the impressive cirque formed by Atlantic, Fletcher and Drift. This is the 4WD TH. Head due west and find a way through the willows and across Mayflower Creek. The creek is only a few feet wide here and easy to cross. Angle slighty northwest and find the Pacific Creek drainage. There is a faint use trail that switchbacks up the hillside towards the drainage. The drainage is hard to miss, and is contained by the south slopes of Atlantic to the east, and the south slopes of Mayflower Hill to the west. Stay higher on the east side and look for a good trail that starts near treeline. As you leave treeline and follow Pacific Creek up the drainage, the trail sticks to the south side of the creek, about ten-twenty feet above on the hillside. The grand pyramid-like mass of Pacific Peak now looms over you to the northeast. Follow the trail until Pacific Creek takes a turn to the south, leave the trail and cross the creek and head northeast towards the base of Pacific Peak's west ridge. The base of the ridge is obvious, as the rolling grassy slopes north of Pacific Creek rise up to meet a gentle ridge crest which devolves into a boulder field on the other side. DO NOT descend into the talus boulders, follow the gentle ridge crest until it terminates at the base of a steep blocky talus slope. This is the base of the West Ridge of Pacific Peak and the start of this route.

NOTE: Your mileage may vary for crossing the willows and Mayflower creek. I find it easier to follow the road all the way to the cabins and then cut over. Roach's 13'er guide suggests leaving the 4WD road after 1.2 miles and heading northeast to cross Mayflower Creek and enter the Pacific Creek drainage. Either way, make sure your line takes you near the mouth of the drainage to avoid unneccesary bushwacking.

Route Description

From the base of the West Ridge, the route looks rather intimidating. Looming overhead on the lower section of the ridge are several large towers that obscure your view of the remainder of the route. As you might expect for a route that is Class 3, there is a straight forward route over easy ground that will take you above these rock pinnacles.

Start the climb by scrambling up the center of the steep talus slope that leads to the base of the first large rock tower. The climbing here is fast and fun over large blocky talus. At the first tower look to climber's right (south) and find a dirt path that hugs the rock of the lower tower. Follow this path around the first tower to a dirt gully that angles back towards the ridge crest. Along the way you will spot an attractive looking solid rock gully to your left that seems to head directly to the ridge crest. Avoid the temptation to climb this gully as it is a dead-end. Instead drop slightly down the ridge to enter the dirt gully and climb it about 2/3 of the way back to the ridge top. Again you may have the temptation to follow this gully all the way to the ridge. To keep the difficulty Class 3 however, leave the dirt gully below the ridge line and scramble south onto low-angle slabs, then follow the slabs back to the ridgeline. Now that you are back on the ridge proper you have left most of the large towers behind, but some challenging ground still lays ahead.

Follow the ridge crest, staying on it as much as possible until you encounter your next major obstacle. A high rise in the ridge will appear, and in the center is a steep shallow gully. The dirt is loose at the bottom, but there is more solid scrambling towards the top. Attack this ridge rise directly by climbing this gully and avoid the tempation to drop south of the ridge to traverse around it.

The route stays on the ridge proper from here on, occasionally dropping south of the ridge to bypass sections of the ridge that are literally paper thin. As a good rule the south side of the ridge has minimal exposure, while the north side has plenty. When presented with a difficulty that makes you uncomfortable, look for a good way to drop off the ridge and bypass it to the south. In fact, most of the route it is probably possible to bail and descend the south side of the ridge back to the basin below if you needed to due to weather or nerves (just beware there is a lot of loose scree and rock down there).

There are a couple of exposed moves on the ridge proper that you may or may not have to make depending on your route finding. I found that even with conservative route finding, there are a couple of spots that gave me pause.

The last major decesion point comes about 2/3 of the way up the ridge, when you reach a small tower. Traverse the tower on the south side, across large slabs that offer up a little exciting exposure.

From here the going reverts back to Class 2 for most of the remainder of the route. Cruise along the ridge top over easy talus. Near the famous "notch" feature of Pacific's summit, you will encounter your last obstacle. Rough ground will force your line to the south of the ridge where you will find a very solid and enjoyable rock gully that ascends back to the ridge proper. An alternative is to look to climbers left of the gully and notice a 15' crack. The crack has great hands and feet, and offers up a fun stretch of easy 4th/5th class climbing. Climb either the gully or the crack to regain the ridge, then scamper over easy talus to the false summit.

From the false summit you look down into the 'notch'. Downclimb into the notch, and enjoy your airy perch. Peer down the north face of Pacific and imagine climbing the classic North Face couloir under optimal conditions. When your done daydreaming, climb an easy gully on the other side of the notch to obtain Pacific's true summit.

Descend by Pacific's northridge route (be warned you face an upclimb to reach the base of Pacific's west ridge on your way back to the TH) or by traversing over to Atlantic and descending Atlantic's west ridge.

NOTE: The description above is as I could remember it and should be fairly accurate. There is plenty of Class 4/5 climbing if you avoid dropping south and stay on the ridge proper through the major difficulties. Pacific's West Ridge is NOT a hike. This is a climb, although not a terribly difficult one. With good route finding you will face minimal exposure, save a couple of brief moves. There are no sustained sections of exposure to contend with. This is an enjoyable route, although it is a bit loose at the very bottom as you traverse to gain the ridge crest.

Essential Gear

No technical rock gear is required.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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