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The Wedge
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Normal Route (East Approach) T 
Shillelagh T 
West Ridge, The T 

The West Ridge 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: R. Robbins, P. Rogowski, H. Davis, T. McCalla
Page Views: 4,088
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Nov 10, 2006

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Looking up from the P2 belay.

Description 

This climb can be done in 3-5 pitches, depending on the comfort level of the climbers. The ridge breaks itself up nicely into several shoulders which make ideal and stunning belay ledges. The start can easily be picked out from afar by noting two huge parallel grooves about halfway up the west ridge.

P1: 5.6-5.7. Climb up a corner system to the north of the two grooves. There is some vegetation here, as well as loose blocks. Stretching a 60m rope to its maximum allows you to reach a nice belay stance on the ridge next to a conifer tree. Otherwise, look for a convenient belay below said tree. 175'

P2: 5.7. An amazing pitch, that meanders slightly, and has some great exposure. Starting from the nice belay ledge with the tree, step out left to the north side of the ridge. Then climb straight up 15 ft into a crack that is almost directly on the knife-edge. Place some gear and then step over onto the south side of the ridge, onto good foot-holds. You are now directly above the conifer tree maybe 25 ft. Traverse to the right about 10ft, looking for a piton in a small horizontal lip. Then climb straight up from the piton and onto the next shoulder, where a spacious belay can be set-up. 80'

P3: Tackle the obvious weakness up the next headwall (5.6). A short ways further is another large shoulder and spacious belay. 75'

P4: Another weakness with an awkward block and wide pod must be overcome (5.7). Continue up the corner until it broadens. The slab above can be climbed directly to the summit (5.8), but does not protect very well. The regular finish traverses about 20 ft to the right onto the south side of the ridge. Then it follows a shallow crack system up to the summit. 90'

P0: 5.8 but a bit scary. The original start which is often skipped by climbing up a chimney in the gully between The Wedge and Lost Peak. It tackles a short slab straight up from the large bushy ledge. The slab is turned easiest on the left side, about 15 ft above the last pro and with a bad fall potential. Once this hurdle is passed, easy climbing gains the normal start.


Location 

While obvious from below, getting to the start of the climb may be one of its greatest difficulties. While approaching The Tooth, look for a way to traverse the tree-filled gully to the north and gain the grassy saddle directly below the last cliffs protruding down from the west ridge. From this saddle, keep left of the cliffs (Ingraham calls them Gendarmes) and scramble up the path of least resistance until you can see into the narrow gully between Lost Peak and The Wedge. Continue up this gully until you reach a chimney with a large boulder that forms a roof. A hole behind this boulder allows you to easily scramble up the chimney. From this point, traverse out right to a large ledge below two huge grooves on west ridge. This is the start of P1.

Climbing up the hole/chimney allows you to avoid the original start as done by R. Robbins. To find this start, traverse out right before about 100 ft before the chimney to a broad ledge.


Protection 

Standard rack. A few long slings are useful for setting belays as you can sling large rocks.



Photos of The West Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Zack coming out of the "birthing hole" at the top of the "roofed chimney" in the gully to gain the P1 belay ledge.
Zack coming out of the "birthing hole" at the top ...
Ingraham's guide describes two saddles in his approach description.  This is the first one: "a clearcut saddle beneath the gendarmes at the end of the W Ridge".  The gendarmes clearly visible.  The place to cross the brushy gully to the grassy slope leading to the saddle was well marked with cairns, but we found no trail after the crossing.
BETA PHOTO: Ingraham's guide describes two saddles in his appr...
Looking up at the start of P0. The small "roof" is passed on the left making a scary slab move. The parallel grooves are seen above.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the start of P0. The small "roof" is...
Looking up at the West Ridge from the second saddle described in the Ingraham guide ("You attain a saddle from which you can slip into the narrow gully which mounts between the W Ridges of the Wedge and Lost Peak").  When you get to this saddle, it's obvious that you're in the right place.  Photo was actually taken after scrambling onto the rocks just west of the tiny saddle.  The two "great parallel grooves" which mark the start of P1 are clearly visible.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the West Ridge from the second saddl...
Looking up at P1 of the West Ridge.  The leftmost of the "great parallel grooves" is just visible in the upper right of the photo.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at P1 of the West Ridge. The leftmost ...
As we climbed the narrow gully towards the start of P1, I stumbled on this guy.  We couldn't (safely) get him to move (even coaxing him w/ a stick, he only made one short rattle), so we had to climb a p-minus 1 to gain the P0 belay.
As we climbed the narrow gully towards the start o...
Looking down on P1 from the P2 belay.
Looking down on P1 from the P2 belay.
Comments on The West Ridge Add Comment
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By Reed Cundiff
Sep 25, 2009

This was one of the favorite climbs of the old Southwestern Mountaineers of NMSU. We once had 7 or 8 roped teams do the route just after a snow storm in November 1970. We approached it from the west side in summer (to be in the early morning shade) and from Aguirre Springs in winter (to be in the sun)

By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Dec 21, 2009

The tree'd gully can/should be avoided when traversing left and up to the grassy saddle. First timers, such as ourselves last weekend, might think there will be an easier way higher up through the trees/bushes themselves (not!).

Lower on the climber's trail, it crosses a ravine left to right and then ascends between that first ravine and another further to the right. The climbers path will pass to the right of a large tan rounded boulder: ~12 feet high and ~25 feet wide with a south facing side that has a thin vertical crack that is left-arcing and divides the boulder. Head left below this large boulder, back across the first ravine, skirting just below the tree'd part of the gully but just above a cliff in the ravine. After getting across, ascend the grassy hillside to the saddle.

About the approach from the east side as mentioned by Reed Cundiff: One way to do this may be to go up the gully leading to a notch described in this Photo. This notch gives access to the top of a different gully on the west side of the ridge; that gully skirts beneath the south face of The Wedge. There can be a lot of post-holing going up the east-side gully if we've had some good snow in the prior weeks.

By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Dec 21, 2009

Tried doing just the approach from the west to the route this past weekend. I am a little confused about whether I found the right chimney. Here's a description of what I found ...

Pretty certain I got to the correct grassy saddle - seemed plenty obvious. From there we headed up keeping to the left of the rocky outcroppings; we stayed up against the left side of these outcroppings on a well worn / trimmed path. After passing the first outcropping, we got to a point to the left of the larger second one at some 3rd/4th class climbing.

Continued up through the 3rd/4th class for about 10 minutes to a dirty chimney with a flat gravel-y area in its bottom. Looked like the crux of the chimney was a roof about 12 feet up with good pro (possible up to 3" to 4" cam placement?). Oddly, there was a rusty grill about one square foot laying in the gravel - used for platform when there's snow in there?

The hole in the back of the roof did not appear big enough to squeeze through, and I could not yet see the gully on the left side (~north) of The Wedge. For anyone who has been there, does this sound like the wrong chimney?

By Robert Cort
Sep 5, 2010

Bill, We came across the same chimney (and metal grate) yesterday 9/4/10. This is not the chimney in the route description that allows one to avoid P0, but we did climb this chimney en-route to the Lost Peak/Wedge gully. I don't know if there is an alternate route that avoids this chimney or not. From the top of the chimney, you still have quite a bit of scrambling/bushwhacking to gain a tiny saddle that allows you to cross into the Lost Peak/Wedge gully. You'll definitely know you're in the right gully when you see it.

By Benjamin Smith
Jan 21, 2011

The approach is easy to follow until the grassy saddle. From here, I'm not sure what the correct approach is...

From the grassy saddle we stayed to the left of the rock outcropping, keeping fairly close to them. We came across the dirty chimney with the metal grate at it's base. I climbed the chimney and maybe a 10 ft section of 4th/5th class above it and built a belay to haul packs up. From here it took us another 15-30 minutes of bushwhacking to reach a small saddle and the Lost Peak/Wedge gully on its far side.

On the descent, we tried to descend via the Lost Peak/Wedge gully, but it quickly cliffs out. The only choice was to go back over the saddle to hiker's right and down the gully with the dirty chimney. This time we stayed well to hiker's right away from the rock outcroppings. At approximately the same elevation as the dirty chimney we traversed right passing the next gully which was a steep corner, to a heavily treed/bushed gully. From here we bushwhacked down, trending to the left each time the gully cliffed out. Eventually we were forced to traverse back at a point between the grassy saddle and the rock outcroppings.

By Nick Dolecek
From: Denver, Colorado
Jan 26, 2011

We climbed the route yesterday, and found the approach to be utterly brutal, by all standards. We ended up at the chimney with the grate, and climbed this...low 5th, and then continued the bushwhack from hell to the base of the route. The first pitch is dirty, but has some cool moves. The last few pitches are why you came, and the granite is some of the best I have ever seen anywhere.
We descended the gully between the Tooth and the Wedge, and this was way better than going back the way you came. For this descent rap down the east face with one rope, and proceed down the gully to the south to another short rap off some oaks. From here 3rd class down the gully, and then up the first gully on your right back up to organ ridge. From here go down rock slabs and through occasional brush to the base of the tooth and the trail. Hopefully this helps people save a little bushwacking.

By Robert Cort
Apr 10, 2011

Well, we bailed after P1 because we were all freezing (4/10/11), but we did do some approach route experimentation. You can indeed bypass the chimney with the metal grate by climbing a brushy ramp further left than the so called "metal grate" chimney (see photo from grassy saddle, chimney line on right bypass left). You have to cross another gully first, and there are only a few routes into/out of that gully, but one real handy one has a easy but narrow ledge leading nicely into it. The bypass route we found is pretty easy and not too brushy except in one spot where we crawled under a brush tunnel. Shortly after the top of the tunnel, take a hard right, and you should see the "great parallel grooves".


View of the "gendarmes" from the grassy saddle.  Right line climbs the metal grate chimney, left line bypasses it.
View of the "gendarmes" from the grassy saddle. Right line climbs the metal grate chimney, left line bypasses it.


Also, to find the best route across the brushy gully above Olhausen's oasis, turn left as soon as you come into granite boulders (light color vs. Olhausen's oasis dark colored rock).

By Marta Reece
Administrator
From: Las Cruces, NM
Apr 5, 2014

The top, difficult part of the slab on Pitch 4 can be completely avoided by going left at the last pro placement (a #1 Camalot in a short, almost-vertical crack of questionable usefulness). Just step off the left end of the slab and you are off technical ground on an easy third class ramp. A good option to have on a windy day.