Summit Elevation (m): 3363
Elevation Gain (m): 1700
Total Distance (km): 21.00
Total Time: 15.00 hours
Difficulty: III 5.3
Water Available: Stream near parking, top of first col (bivy site). Stream on West ridge, lake at bottom.
Cell reception: Reliable at Summit, spotty on first half of approach
Rating: 5/5 For the excellent rock, easy approach, stunning views, intense exposure the whole time, and did I mention excellent rock!?
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From the parking lot take the advice that you have probably read before and scout out the trail! Go all the way to the base of the col and look for the trail up, this will save you 15-30 minutes of scree slogging if you miss the trail up the col! I’ve tried to outline where the trail goes, but basically try and stay climber’s left. There is a long snow slope that goes directly up the col, but you are aiming to the left of that, and the trail starts at the far left of the large slope up the col.
From the parking lot follow the Cavell Meadows Trail and branch off shortly for the climbers trail (signed). From here take the trail up the col, and over to the ridge. The lower ridge is easy scrambling on mostly solid ledges (depending on your route, there are a lot of cairns and trails). This will take you up to the shoulder, where you cross a snow patch to gain the shoulder. Traverse slightly below the large hump on climber’s right on the shoulder as it is just useless elevation gain/loss. Now at the base of the upper ridge, you can see where the fun really begins!!
The upper ridge is pretty straight forward, go up while traversing weaknesses in the rock. There is one 40-50m pitch of 5.3 that we roped up for, and honestly we should have simply solo’d it since it took forever to climb the one pitch with 3 people. If you rope up for more there are plenty of ledges for building anchors and belaying, as well as ample places to place protection on the way up.
The “difficult” pitch starts below a large block to your right, and a overhanging rock with a smooth bottom up to your left. Start climbing around the block to your right and stand on top of it, from here go up and slightly left to find a ledge. Continue on and right up a crack, at the top there is an orange cord in two pins, which marks the top of the pitch (almost).
If just protecting the one pitch: I would bring 2-3 cams (.5 – 2), a few nuts, and a few slings, mainly for anchor building as the climbing is very easy (when dry!). I would also only bring a thin half rope to save weight.
Parking lot to col took us 1.5 hours, we waited for light for another 30 minutes. Col to shoulder was another 2 hours. Shoulder to summit took us 4 hours (pitching out takes up a lot of time, I would solo it next time).
I would recommend descending the East Ridge if you can, as the “scramble” (terrible scree slog) seems to never end, and then you need to hike out for 10km on an old trail in bear country. There is plenty of old tat in place and most of it looks decent, bring a few cordlettes to replace weathered ones however.
If you chose to descend the West ridge, be warned that it is a long walk out full of scree, more scree, and active bears! Descend the faint trail off the summit and around the summit block heading down skiers right eventually to the West ridge above Angel Glacier. Follow the faint trail along the ridge until you’re almost at the next col, then descend the scree.