All Locations > Colorado > Lyons > St. Vrain Canyons > Middle Fork of St… > Piz Badille > West-Northwest Face
Avg: 2.4 from 23 votes
|Type:||Trad, 500 ft, 5 pitches|
|FA:||probably Ray Northcutt and George Lamb, 1950s|
|Page Views:||3,978 total, 21/month|
|Shared By:||Michael Walker on Jun 7, 2002|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionThis is the premier mountaineering route on the Piz Badille, a long, moderate journey up the ridge along the left margin of the west face. The route is obvious in George Bell's photo. The hardest part of the route is gaining the ridge crest - a route finding quandary - but these early difficulties are inconsistent with the remainder of the climbing, as you'll enjoy easy climbing with good protection on decent rock for the remaining three or four pitches.
P1. (5.6 - 5.8) The first pitch of the Ridge is the psychological and technical crux, as you'll be tested on placing protection and on your route finding skills. The [Gillett] guidebook suggests there are a number of options, supposedly from 5.6 - 5.8, but questionable rock and protection seemed to narrow the choices. We chose to begin just left of and 50' up the ridge bottom, traversing right out on a good ledge to gain a finger crack that splits the broad face of the lower ridge. There were two distinct cruxes on this variation. The first is right off the good ledge up thin edges and smearing while placing good pro in the thin crack. The second is easier technically, but a mind full psychologically. After the edges and smearing, the crack approaches a small roof that is passed on the left to a good stance. Above the stance, a smooth face must be negotiated. This face is capped by another small roof and the best option seems to be to follow the very thin crack up a small left facing dihedral on the right, and escape right from under the roof above the dihedral. Not terribly difficult climbing, but the pro leaves something to be desired. An ancient bolt (remnants of the first ascent party?) lies in the middle of the face and can be strung with a long sling, but the rust and loose manner of the hanger suggests this protection is more for show than usefulness. RPs, the smallest stoppers you have (and maybe a stick of gum) can be placed in the thin crack of the dihedral to back up this "bolt."
Once you have a small nest of pro in the crack, charge up and step right above the dihedral, and climb a small bulge. Tension mounts. You can find a small crack above the bulge that took a marginal Alien, but your best bet is not to fall on it and climb a little higher to Thank God cracks. Easier climbing leads to a large ledge system.
P2. (5.4) The second pitch is a long moderate stroll that follows good cracks along the narrowing ridge. Stay to the climber's left along the edge for the best rock and exposure. A huge ledge appears after a rope length.
P3. (5.4) Another long moderate pitch, almost a mirror of the last, leads to a good ledge system.
P4. (5.5) This pitch surmounts the headwall at the top of the ridge, attaining the summit plateau. Begin with some good cracks and stay to the climber's left above the large ledge to find the easiest route to the summit. Mind your rope drag with long slings on this pitch. At the top of the headwall you will be standing on a flat summit plateau, the top of the Piz Buttress, but not the end of the climbing. The summit plateau narrows to a rocky ridgeline that snakes its way back to the forested hillside. Move your belay across the summit plateau to the edge of the ridgeline where it narrows.
P5. (5.0) This was a wonderfully exposed traverse along the ridge crest with 300' drops on either side, it reminded me of the classic ridge climbs in the high mountains and broke up the monotony of the last couple pitches. Scramble down off the summit plateau on easy rock and then work your way along the ridge crest, placing pro as deemed necessary. After a full rope length, you will be on hiking terrain. Scramble left down a talus slope along the mossy north face of the Piz back to your pack.