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.
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 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).
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.
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 in the dry lower portion of the couloir
4th class terrain in the 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.
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
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.
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 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 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.
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
Rappelling the small gully
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.