West Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 43.16418°N / 109.61892°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing
Additional Information Time Required: A few days
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.7 (YDS)
Sign the Climber's Log


Turret Peak's West Ridge is wild and wonderful, steep, scary and exhilarating, a worthy challenge for those looking for an alpine adventure. Although the climbing difficulty doesn't exceed 5.6 or 5.7, this is quite a committing undertaking and parties should know how to move efficiently on alpine terrain.

Turret Peak West Ridge Route
West Ridge Route

Getting to Elsie Col

The West Ridge route begins at Elsie Col, the saddle between Turret Peak and Warren Peak.

Turret Peak & Mount Warren
Turret Peak & Mount Warren from Dinwoody Glacier

From Dinwoody Glacier the climb to Elsie Col is on easy, low angle snow and/or ice (depending on the time of year).

Elsie Col
Heading up to Elsie Col from Dinwoody Glacier

Elsie Col can also be reached from Helen Glacier but a bergschrund near the top can make it a more serious undertaking.

West Ridge

Start of Turret Peak s West Ridge
Start of Turret Peak's West Ridge at Elsie Col

From Elsie Col head east along Turret Peak's West Ridge. There are plenty of options here. It may be easiest to scramble over 3rd class terrain on the north side of the ridge. The crest itself contains at least a few 5th class moves.

After a short stretch of scrambling the ridge takes the form of a near vertical arête. This major difficulty can be bypassed on the left (north) side. Leave the ridge and traverse left into a large, obvious couloir which will most likely be at least partially snow-filled. When the lower part is melted out some 4th class scrambling is encountered.

Steep Scrambling on Turret Peak
Steep scrambling in the dry lower portion of the couloir

Scrambling on Turret Peak
4th class terrain in the couloir

Turret Peak West Couloir
Major couloir on Turret Peak's west face

Look for a small gully exiting to the right of the main gully. This one is much narrower and probably drier.

Small Gully on Turret Peak
Small gully

Scramble up 4th class terrain to a ledge on the right side of the gully. This is where we roped up. Several steep 5th class pitches must be climbed to regain the ridge crest.

From the ledge, climb more or less straight up following the path of least resistance for two short pitches.

First Roped Pitch
First Roped Pitch

At the end, pull up on to the insanely exposed knife-edge ridge! This position is unreal! The final few moves are the most difficult, 5.6ish on slightly sketchy holds.

Climbing Turret Peak s West Ridge
Final moves below the ridge crest

Once back on the ridge crest, the difficulties aren't over. Next is an easy but very exposed traverse on the left side of the ridge. At the end of this short traverse lies the crux of the route. Getting back to the crest once and for all is tough. Traverse around a little corner and climb a loose chimney. Our group felt it was 5.6 – 5.7 but the big loose rocks may have effected our rating.

Crux of Turret Peak s West Ridge
Crux of the West Ridge route

Once on the crest both the steepness and difficulty ease substantially. The next several pitches are straightforward but the exposure remains extreme in places. The difficulty ranges from 3rd class to about 5.4. Simply follow the ridge.

Easier ground on Turret Peak s West Ridge
Easier ground back on the ridge

After reaching the southern summit, downclimb one pitch of 4th class terrain to the saddle between the northern and southern summits. From here its just one pitch of 5.easy to reach the true summit.

Turret Peak s Southern Summit
Southern summit as seen from the (higher) northern summit


To descend, retrace your steps (which is a long and involved process) or try to find some beta on an alternate descent route! We did a combination of rappelling and belayed traversing/downclimbing to return to Elsie Col.

Descending Turret Peak s West Ridge
Descending Turret Peak's West Ridge

Rapping from Turret Peak
Rappelling the small gully

Essential Gear

Minimum of one 50 or 60 meter rope. Two ropes are beneficial but not necessary. We used a single 60 meter rope and a pair of 50 meter doubles for our large party of five. Standard rack of stoppers and cams, nothing too big. Webbing for rappel anchors. Crampons for climb to Elsie Col.



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