Type: Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, Grade III
FA: B. Culp & B. Beal, 1970
Page Views: 18,088 total · 87/month
Shared By: Tony B on Jan 11, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


Find the rock as for the East Face, but move up from Sky Pond toward the Southwest corner of the South Face. The route finishes as for the South Face, so you still get the famous finish, although some of the crowds can be avoided.

P1: (Standard start) Scramble up to the center of the face on a left-facing system, about 50-60 yards to the left of the South Face route. This 200' 5.easy pitch will land you on a ledge contiguous with the beginning of the chimney pitch of the South Face.

P2 & 3: Move a ways to the right and climb an obvious, left-facing corner system for 2 pitches, belaying as you please on 5.6 terrain with many potential belays. This system leans to the left and then back right and can be seen from Sky Pond, although it is less distinct as you move up. These pitches can be combined with some simul-climbing.

P4: From the ledge at the top of P3, move a little left and climb up flakes and cracks to the shoulder of the Petit, a long pitch rated 5.7 or so. There is no definite crux. This will place then next belay on the airy shoulder of the Petit.

P5: Climb a long pitch of 5.8 cracks and corners, which are mostly left-facing. This is the line of least resistance up the shoulder of the Petit to the next belay, just to the right of the arete. This is a great pitch for scenery and exposure. There are a few 5.8 cruxes.

P6: Climb further up the ridge until you step right into a vertical crack. There are two options here, either are likely the crux of the climb. For the left version (6a), the crack will pass a 5.9 roof. The moves are difficult with a pack on and are not that well-protected. Put a few pieces in before arriving at the roof for back up. Crux pro was a 3" cam but was some ways below me, as I was carrying a very light rack. I do not recall what other gear could have been placed higher. Climb up this crack through the roof (see picture of Darrin Livingston approaching the crux). For the right version (6b), the crack is protects reasonably (and has 2 fixed wires) and comes up to a small roof with an undercling and finger crack above it. Either way, step left after the roof back to the arete and move up to the next ledge to belay.

P7a: Move over on said ledge to the Pizza Pan belay of the South Face route and follow the South Face to the spectacular summit!

P7b: You can continue up through a small bulge and double cracks above and then angle right to the obvious notch below the overhanging summit blade and belay on the east side of the notch.

Variation: Skip the first three pitches by starting on the very southwest corner of the Petit, in the gully, making your way up to and through the big left-facing dihedral (5.10b) for a very long pitch to the ledge at the base of pitch 4.


Standard light alpine rack - nuts & hexes with a few cams. Make sure you take plenty of 2' slings, as the route wanders like any other alpine route.
This is a great route and as good as the South Face. The first pitch is easy and can be soloed to save time. The 2nd and 3rd can be combined with a very small amount of simulclimbing on 60m ropes. After the 4th pitch you need to move the belay about 50 ft to the left which puts you on a big ledge directly on the SW corner. On the crux pitch I set serveral small wires that were ok, but got in a great yellow Alien in the crack just over the roof. (I'm not sure where the big cam that Tony mentioned would have gone. You could safely do the whole route with nothing bigger than a #2 Camalot.) This is by far the hardest and also the best part of the route. When referencing guide books the old Gillett book is much more acurate than the Rossiter book. Check out the description of the new rappel route by Chris Cavallaro under the South Face comments. This makes all routes on the Petit much more enjoyable. Aug 8, 2002
Jason Cloyd
SoBo, CO
Jason Cloyd   SoBo, CO
Climbed the SW corner on 9/20/03. It was chilly and windy, which probably helped keep the crowds thin (only 2 other parties, both on S. Face). What a spectacular route! I thought all the pitches were distinct, each one was fun for the grade, and the rock was solid (at least where it mattered). We started left of the S. Face route per (old) Gillett and Rossiter guidebooks, and avoided the first 5.4 pitch (which didn't look great anyway) by scrambling in (~4th) from up and around the corner, which put us at the base of the left-facing corner system of p's 2 and 3. The climbing gets a little harder and more fun with each pitch until the pizza pan belay. Thought the crux pitch was one of the best alpine 5.9 pitches around - a steep, daunting-looking hero roof with great holds, a fun second overhang with double cracks, and more fun moves getting to the pizza pan belay. Then it all ends with the amazing last 2 pitches (or 1 long one) of the S. Face - it doesn't get much better in my book. Did the old-school descent because it was so windy, but got on some icy rocks and knee-deep snow going down The Gash - kind of sketchy. Rap route would have been better. Hung a right near the bottom of The Gash and traversed behind the Saber (and one other tower) to the huge gully that leads back to Sky Pond. This gully was no big deal - one rappel from good anchors plus a lot of talus - and it puts you right back at the lake to retrieve your stuff. Did I mention that this route was fun? Sep 22, 2003
Shane Zentner
Shane Zentner   Colorado
Stellar. The exposure at the crux is good. One should plan to spend time for the [descent] as it took a while to do. Jun 28, 2005
Climbed this on Aug. 9. We ended up going up and left instead of up and right at the beginning of the crux pitch, thus taking the left "roof" rather than the right. It is actually a large overhanging flake, that then resulted in some VERY airy moves right up the [arete]. Ended up being about 5.9 as well, but gear was not that great... due to rock quality and decent placements. Aug 17, 2005
Ben Collett  
Just to confirm what others have said: This route is really good. I thought it was better than the South Face. One can end the crux pitch at the Pizza Pan belay fairly easily with a 50 meter rope, linking what Tony has described as pitches 6 and 7. Getting to Sky Pond right now is not too difficult. There is a pretty well packed trail where there is snow. May 27, 2006
Eric Goltz
Boulder, CO
Eric Goltz   Boulder, CO
Quality route; this route can be done quickly with a 70-m rope by linking pitches.The climbing is not very sustained, and it is easy to move quickly between the cruxes.The 5.9 pitch(es) were worse than expected, kind of wandering up a gully in the corner, through a tiny juggy roof. The best pitch comes as a surprise just before joining the S. Face, when you approach the gigantic roof between yourself and the summit. Straight up, then left to a very airy crack, then back right up to a spacious ledge (from here you can belay to just below the summit w/ a 70m rope). Just as good as the S. Face. Jun 10, 2006
Boulder, CO
claytown   Boulder, CO
Climbed the Southwest Corner on 6/16/07. It was a Saturday and the South Face was pretty packed. This was a great route! From the first grassy ledge you can link the next two pitches with a 70m and about 10 feet of simul climbing. I managed to get off route on the crux pitch and found another way around the corner to the right that has 2 different cruxes. First was a widening crack through a roof and the second was a finger crack in a left-facing dihedral of polished granite. I have to think that this was in the 10 range but I'm not sure. It eventually met up with the south face route in the middle of the last pitch. It was a fun variation and one of the best climbs I've ever done. Enjoy! Jun 17, 2007
Peter Yakovchuk
Tempe, AZ
Peter Yakovchuk   Tempe, AZ
Great route. If you want to get a free gear go do it. I found red Alien with a biner (both in very good shape) on the crux, the cam was not even stuck in the crack :-))
Crux feels easier than some 5.8s in Eldo, IMO. You climb on jugs. And it is VERY well protected.
Also, I am not quite sure whether new rappel description is accurate. We did one 160ft rappel (from bolts on climber's right side), then one 200ft to a grassy ledge. At the very end of that second rappel you will see some slings on your right, don't use them, go straight down to a grassy ledge. Then, you go 50-60ft along this ledge to find the third 180ft rappel to the Second Terrace. Jun 25, 2007
Jon Lachelt
Fort Collins, CO
Jon Lachelt   Fort Collins, CO
We climbed this on Saturday of Labor Day weekend (Aug. 30). It was a perfect cool and sunny day. We were the first party on the route (started at 7:15) and only saw one other party on this route while we were on it. In contrast, the south face seemed to have a steady flow of traffic. If you feel up to the 5.9 crux, then I think this route would be the best option. Sep 1, 2008
Compared to other alpine routes in the park this one felt consistently loose, but nonetheless fun. This past week the descent option of dropping into the gash lent itself to great glissading for a fast descent. Jul 24, 2009
Always seemed like there were 2 ways up after the 3rd pitch. I lead the whole thing. 5.9 seemed like a reasonable grade to me but couldn't really pin down where the actual crux was. Not a one-mover. There wasn't any insecure climbing or friction climbing. Good rock, good exposure, good protection. I thought rout finding was a little funky, but the way we went up worked and was about 5.9. Potential for rope drag is big on the 5-7 pitches, only placed a few pieces and put long runners on every one to avoid this as I went around the arete and back a couple times. Jun 30, 2010
Patrick Mulligan
Reno, NV
Patrick Mulligan   Reno, NV
This climb was my first true alpine route. It was a full on alpine experience with waiting out a morning storm in a cavelike feature on the second big ledge, topping out late as a result and rappelling and down-climbing gullies in the dark. What a learning experience. Overall, I thought the route was classic. However, that was more for the experience than the quality of the climbing. The best climbing was the 5.9 steep crack in the left-facing dihedral that Clayton mentions. I found a kneebar rest in the pod at the top that allowed for a hands free rest and shake out with full exposure. This made the crimpy moves above the crack that much easier. Dec 13, 2011
C Archibolt
Salt Lake City, UT
C Archibolt   Salt Lake City, UT
Really great route. I've done the 8 and the 9. From my memory, the 9 has a lot more loose rock. Knock on flakes before you grab them. Other than that, this route is excellent. The crux pitch (which my partner led) is stellar. Aug 12, 2013
Brady Robinson
Boulder, CO
Brady Robinson   Boulder, CO
On par with the South Face route, and I actually liked it better -- more adventurous and certainly less crowded. The belay ledges are all great as well. It's just an incredible alpine rock experience up there. I highly recommend taking this variation at the top: "P7b. You can continue up through a small bulge and double cracks above and then angle right to the obvious notch below the overhanging summit blade and belay on the east side of the notch." From that belay, you can get to the summit with one 60m rope, thus you only have to share the route with the masses on the South Face for one pitch. Jun 27, 2017
Mark Griffin
Boulder, CO
Mark Griffin   Boulder, CO
Found a bail anchor on the third pitch yesterday. Happy to return it, just shoot me a message. Jun 27, 2018