Center Shift on Wham Ridge
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Fun alpine climbing on Grenadier quartzite. Exposed, but you won't find the climb to be difficult if you're in climbing shape, have mountain experience, and come prepared to be in the mountains (this is still remote alpine climbing).
Instead of climbing the "casual" route, which is the true ridge line of Wham Ridge - i.e., sticking to the right-most ridge line (arete) - climb straight up the middle/center of the Wham face. Again, the climbing's not difficult, but a little harder than the 5.3-5.4 along the ridge. Gerry Roach's 13ers guide rates this a 5.7. If there's 5.7, there's not much. Most of it seemed to be in the 5.3-5.5 range. We encountered two short 15-20' sections that were pushing 5.7, all of which were blocky and easy to protect. There are a couple of lines up the middle, though the steepness and rock type doesn't change.
We simu-climbed most of it in approach shoes, pitched out two full rope lengths about 600' shy of the summit, and free-soloed the last 150-200'. Carried climbing shoes, but never used them.
"Center Shift" is the name Roach uses in his 13ers guide.
Start early. The route is very exposed to weather.
Good pro on hard, slick quartzite. (You haven't climbed quartzite, you're in for a treat.)
No fixed gear. Pack a small alpine rack w/ an assortment of stoppers and cams, long runners, etc.
|Photos of Center Shift on Wham Ridge Slideshow
After climbing the Center Shift route. Looking at...
Mike racking the pro after climbing through Center...
|Comments on Center Shift on Wham Ridge
|By John Korfmacher|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 31, 2009
Not a difficult route--there might be a 5.7 move somewhere on that face, but we didn't find it. This is a viable solo if you are good at following the line of least resistance. We used a rope for only about 120m of this route. The rest is pretty much a really tall flatiron.
Great fun though--easy, enjoyable climbing on a very dramatic feature.
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 28, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b
We climbed as closely as we could to the plumb line that defines the center of the rock. This route was different from that shown in Roach's book. We climbed 7, 70meter pitches with about 3 additional 70m pitches of simul-climbing. We clipped an ancient pin near the top, which was cool!
Done the way we did it, the outing is longer than in Roach's book by a few pitches, and there were several 20-40 foot run outs. That said, it was great, sustained and exposed 5.6. It was really nice!
Feb 22, 2011
The overall climbing on the Wham from one side to the other is pretty much easy 5th class with only slight variations in difficulty. It's possible to seek out more difficult moves, but doing so might seem contrived, as it's possible to move anywhere on the face at most points during the climb. There really aren't any "plumb lines" up there, certainly none you'd actually give a name to (i.e. Center Shift) So, here's my Wham breakdown: The bottom third involves 30-40 degree 3rd class ramp cruising. The mid section, being the most exposed, is probably the crux with several easy 5th class moves in a row no steeper than 65 degrees. The top third is the steepest and is stepped out/broken easy 4/5th class, usually with a ledge underneath that could break any unfortunate falls. Most competent climbers won't need a rope anywhere on the Wham, especially if you're rocking the sticky rubber. But then again....
Feb 22, 2011
I'm pretty sure Jerry Roberts skied most of the Wham years ago.
|By Ray Hellinger|
From: Durango, CO
Jul 3, 2012
I agree, I have climbed 4 different "variations" all over that face and I have never climbed harder than 5.6 there.