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The Citadel
Routes Sorted
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Anticipation T 
Arch Rival T 
Clem's Folly T 
Finger Breakers TR 
Finger Zinger S 
Glad We Came S 
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Iron Worker T 
Little Diddle T 
Murray's Crack T 
Nose, The T 
Romper Room T 
Second Thoughts T 
Stem Cell Research T 
Styx n Stones T 
West Ridge T 
Whole Banana T 
Wish You Were Here T 

West Ridge 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, 650'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: 1 June 1963 Dick Ingraham, George Goedecke, and Owen Moss
Page Views: 3,472
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Jun 17, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (18)
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BETA PHOTO: Loose block has been circled. New location of the ...


This route is described in Dick Ingraham's guide as the NW ridge It involves some meandering and plenty of route-finding, which makes it exemplary of Organ Mountain climbing. Doubtless, there are scores of variations on this route, but most of them offer good climbing on decent rock.
The overall character of the route is to find the path of least resistance. The first pitch scrambles up some easy ground on the west side of the Citadel, to the right of The Nose. Pitch 2 traverses left on the large ledge system taking you to the north side of the Citadel. Pitch 3-5 work up the ridge whichever way seems best. If you stay left from pitch 2, you end up doing more face climbing. One can easily end up facing a difficult move, or not having pro on this face, but there are many possible lines. The climbing eases closer to the top, becoming low-5th, or even 4th class for the last pitch. At the summit is a nice desert garden. Relax and read the summit register under the juniper tree.

Warning: Loose block 

There is a loose block where Pitch 3 used to start. We had trundled one there, but another, much larger one, is moving. It's too large to trundle safely, with a couple more on top and no way of knowing what else might come down. The way to handle it is to start pitch 3 to the right and completely avoid the area. Image of the problem and the solution is provided.


Path of least resistance up the NW ridge of the Citadel. An easy descent can be made on the north side, but requires some scrambling/down-climbing. Scramble down off the summit and back to a small, exposed ledge on the north face over a 100' slab. Find the poot slings and you can do a single rope rappel to gain a large ledge beneath the slabs. The east side of this ledge is a dirty gully which can be scrambled down. While you are scrambling down check out the cool roof system to your right, several harder lines exist.


Standard rack. Some topos show fixed pins and bolts, but depending on how you meander up to the top, you may not run across these. There are some nice comfy belay ledges that stay shady most of the morning.

Photos of West Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A view of the West Ridge showing pitches 2 through...
BETA PHOTO: A view of the West Ridge showing pitches 2 through...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bruce on the hike in.  The Citadel is just right o...
Bruce on the hike in. The Citadel is just right o...
Rock Climbing Photo: The line of West Ridge. The last pitch is actually...
BETA PHOTO: The line of West Ridge. The last pitch is actually...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at P1.  Starts just out of view to the ...
Looking up at P1. Starts just out of view to the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Glen Banks on the Northwest Ridge of the Citadel i...
Glen Banks on the Northwest Ridge of the Citadel i...
Rock Climbing Photo: Myself leading up our P3 (P4 on the old topo) with...
Myself leading up our P3 (P4 on the old topo) with...

Comments on West Ridge Add Comment
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By Waffleman860
From: Tucson AZ
Sep 6, 2011
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c R

The vertical spot following the easy traverse at the beginning of pitch 2 is risky now. The slab on the left ledge that offered a small crack for protection has broken free and should not be touched. That being said, there might be some protection above the ledge on the right, but the cracks are filled with grass. Otherwise, it is a long runout with serious risk of decking.
By Forrest Wilcox
From: Las Cruces, NM
Aug 18, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

i went in the dirty crack on the right on this pitch and it was fairly easy except for the overhang getting off the ground. i also avoided the "dihedral" part completely and went inside this chimney wedged on a pinacle. after i pulled out of the chimney i was on a nice belay ledge with bolts and a rap ring so i guess i was on someone's route, after the belay station on my pitch 3 there was a sketchy slab move and then pretty much 5.5-5.6 to the top
By Robert Cort
Apr 1, 2013

A better descent (or at least different) option is to walk east on the summit, and find a nice rap anchor (two beefy bolts with chains) just over the edge. A single rope rap lands you in a gully, with a relatively simple scramble down into the Rabbit Ears Canyon.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Apr 13, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

A detailed route description (one possible variation out of many, of course, but without the problems mentioned above):

Pitch 1 goes up the straight crack system to the right of the Nose. It starts with a staircase, goes past a cactus and a tree and up onto a chock, all in a safe feeling groove. This gives way to a less protected section with some chossy hands and slabby feet, then a steep step to an wide, supper chossy ledge wish a small bush that fortunately can be backed up. One way to avoid the "chossy hands and slabby feet" is to turn left/up at the smallish dead tree. The climbing is a bit harder, but fully protectable.

Pitch 2 is a forth-class walk left on the ledge, up a step, some scrambling on a sloping ground to the north face of the Citadel. The ledge once again becomes flat and wide and this time even grassy. Build in the first crack you can find. It will be fairly high up.

Pitch 3: Go up first right-facing corner. It starts a bit high, with some broken stuff leading to it. Follow the corner to a pinnacle on the ridge line. Above the pinnacle is a pair of bolts, only one of them a modern one, not really a belay station anymore. From the bolts go up on the left first on a slabby then on a more featured ground. Some meandering, perhaps all the way to the right, takes you to the base of a head wall and a comfortable belay station.

Pitch 4: Turn the head wall on the right and head up a short corner. At its end, step up onto the featured wall on the left and go up, and actually back a bit, to the ridge, which is now a series of steps, some smaller ones, one large one. Belay below or above the large step.

Pitch 5: Once on top of the large step, look for a deep groove starting on the right of the ridge line. Climb first on the right side of it, then in the groove itself as it turns into a jumble of rocks. It will continue leftward, ending as a nice, wide ledge to the left of the ridge. Look for a piton at the base of the wall, and climb up just before it to reach the ridge line. Belay from an easy ground.

Pitch 6: Continue up an easy 4th class ridge line to the next head wall. Turn left and go down a few feet to the level of a narrow flake detached in its middle. Step onto the face past this and go left on good holds. A rap station marks the end of technical ground. To reach the summit, continue on 4th class terrain staying generally to the left of the ridge line proper.

A rap station consisting of a pair of good bolts and chains is located on the south side of the summit plateau, to the left of the south rock pile. A single 60m rope is adequate for the rappel. You want to have your walking shoes for the way back to the packs.

To reach the canyon, go down the gully until it opens up, look for a large, dead tree. The trail goes just left of it. Continue down following largish rocks. Turn left toward the rock wall, continue along the bottom of the wall, downclimbing a couple of draws, to the base of Clem's Folly. Follow trail to the bottom of Rabbit Ears Canyon. Go down canyon back to packs.
By Eric Wydeven
From: austin, tx
May 24, 2014

Don't underestimate the West Ridge. It is short and you might think an easy day. Complacency getting out of camp on an early Organs trip for us left us sleeping at the base of the pitch 4 slot on a cold and windy October night. Brrrrrrrrr. The route meanders back and forth over the ridge line and the short pitches and route finding take some time. I still want to go back and finish it up to the juniper garden one if these days. What we got done was fun though. Aaaah, the Organs.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Apr 20, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The loose rock mentioned in the first comment has been trundled and some of the cracks cleaned, so the problems are taken care of and no R rating is needed. While I won't give the route a 5.8- as suggested in the comment, it is definitely stiff for a 5.6.

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