Type: Trad, 500 ft, 5 pitches
FA: probably Ray Northcutt and George Lamb, 1950s
Page Views: 4,434 total · 22/month
Shared By: Michael Walker on Jun 7, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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This 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.


I remember chanting the 5.6 mantra on the first pitch. A storm chased us off right before the exposed ridge traverse and we rapped twice off the side to the left...it worked, but I bet that ridge is better. The talus on the way down seemed pretty mobile to me, and was. Aug 11, 2002
Quick note - above the ancient rusty bolt hanger on p1 is a small block with a short horizontal crack where a small to medium sized stopper (say #4) can be placed with a long runner. Seemed very solid to me and greatly improved my state of mind at that point ;-) Sep 23, 2002
Just climbed this route today, very nice climb, and great view from the top. A few things to note; the old bolt hanger has been replaced with a new one, and there is a huge loose flake on the climbers right around the top of pitch 2, it sounds hollow and should be avoided if at all possible also be careful on the walk off as the talus is quite mobile as well fairly large. Jul 24, 2003
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
Climbed this a month ago. Great mid-range "alpine" climb. Didn't see the bolt on P1 so wasn't sure I was on route. But had sketchy gear near the top of the pitch, matching some of the comments posted above, and coinciding with the hardest moves of the climb. See photo of P1 with the line we climbed drawn in. P2 and P3 are fun easy climbing. P4 was a bit different in that it (we) went around to the left side before angling back right to meet the summit ridge. The rock quality changed, and it seemed a bit more ominous over there, but still relatively easy. Maybe 5.5? Oct 10, 2004
Craig Quincy
Louisville, CO
Craig Quincy   Louisville, CO
This route reminded me of an outing in the [Cascades]. The rock is absent of cracks except where the rock has fractured. It's not the loveable granite found in RMNP, Lumpy or BoCan.

I attempted to follow the path of least resistance on pitch one and followed the same path outlined in Ivan's photo below. It's definitely a little sketchy after the overlap with a runout, a couple loose holds and shakey RP's for protection after lauching up the left facing corner. All the bad things converge at the worst possible point. I believe the old bolt can be found by climbing straight over the first major overlap, rather than traversing left underneath it as shown by the dots. We belayed at a set of new camo bolts on the first major ledge. The rest of the route is a breeze in comparison.

Incidentally, the old topo from Hubbel's Front Range Crags guide book shows the route starting in a dirty, broken major corner system to the right of the nice slab on the Ridge. I doubt it's much fun climbing in that corner. Aug 14, 2005
Andy Leach
Denver, CO
Andy Leach   Denver, CO
This was a really nice climb for my first multi-pitch lead. I followed Ivan's route up to the point where he cut left below the roof. At that point it looked like I had better protection and better holds to the right so I traversed right around a corner and then up a short slab. I believe this put me on the 5.8 variation where it intersects with the long diagonal dihedral. I belayed from there and the rest of the climb was straightforward. I never saw any bolts, just two old rusty pitons and a fixed nut. I wished we had brought radios because my partner and I couldn't hear each other for most of the climb due to river noise, traffic noise, and a slight breeze.

I shot a short movie of our climb. You can find it on my website at leachfam.com/securearea/1st… Oct 10, 2005

Nice video, one comment, be sure to "protect the traverse" of your 2nd. I am not trying to be a buzzkill, but Julie would have hit the ledge at about 50% when the she climbs into the sun, if she had popped off. Better safe than sorry especially in that location.

Oh, just watched the end, be ready to dump your pack on a stream crossing. I usually wear the pack with only one arm.

Nice editing and sound too.

AC Oct 10, 2005
Ben Randolph
Boulder, CO
Ben Randolph   Boulder, CO
This is a pretty good climb for nice mellow day when it's hot on the Front Range. I found some loose rock on the route and even more in the talus field, so be careful on the descent. There are 2 bolts at the top of the first pitch. Jul 23, 2006
Daniel Crescenzo
  5.8 R
Daniel Crescenzo  
  5.8 R
Pitch 1 I found myself amidst the most technical climbing on this pitch looking at a slabby 50 footer. None of the climbing is super hard, but the crux of the route is pretty stingy as far as pro is concerned. In hindsight I may have been off route (not hard to do here since the guidebook is super-old and not very good). I did not encounter the afforementioned bolt. Sep 30, 2007
Bill Duncan
Jamestown, CO
  5.7+ R
Bill Duncan   Jamestown, CO
  5.7+ R
A couple of variations:
P1: If you are with a beginner, or prefer to avoid the runout first pitch, there is a way to traverse in from the left directly to the bolt anchors at the top of the first pitch. Look for the path of least resistance a short scramble up from the first belay.

P2: about 50 feet up, head right, to the very edge of the arete. There is a sort of double arete in the shape of an "L", and by staying on the bottom of the "L", one finds nice exposure. The climbing is easy and there is pro.

Last pitch, approaching the top of the route: you are forced right about 175' from the top. If you then veer left, and then straight up, there is a nice variation that involves a short vertical face with an angled "fin" sticking out. Fun. Jun 18, 2009
  5.8 PG13
mtoensing   Boulder
  5.8 PG13
Did this a few years ago. All I can remember is some loose holds. Fun outing, though. Sep 14, 2011
doug haller
Boulder, Colorado
doug haller   Boulder, Colorado
Fixed raps p1-4. May 15, 2013
This is a great climb! If you want to keep the difficulty at the 5.6 level when you get up to small roof at the top of the thin crack on pitch 1, traverse right around the corner. If you go left, that leads to the poorly protected 5.8 mentioned above.

If you do go right, you will encounter several fixed pitons on your way to the first belay ledge. Note that the pins are hard to locate, so keep your eyes peeled. May 15, 2013
Eric Klammer
Boulder, CO
Eric Klammer   Boulder, CO
Fun climb! 2 stars as a rock climb, 3 stars as an alpine style scramble! Did in 5 moderately long pitches, simuling the last along the ridge.

Bruce offers great advice concerning the first pitch. As he mentions, we traversed right at the roof and then up a steep and broken corner system with good (at least better) pro and 2 fixed pins. Looking down from the belay, the 5.8 variation looked fun and pretty clean but definitely R rated. Once you're past the first pitch, the rest of the climb is a breeze, enjoy it!

Also, crossing the creek right now is quite.... Exciting? Jun 13, 2013
As of 5/30/15, there was a fixed pin (knifeblade) which offered protection just after traversing under the roof on the left-hand variation of P1. May 31, 2015
An enjoyable route with minimal approach. This route can be done in 4 pitches with minimal simul-climbing on the final ridge-run to the summit.

P1 to bolted anchors at 40m; P2 to just past the big pine at 60m; P3 to the false summit at 50m; P4 along the ridge and into the trees, a 70m+ run, most of which is 4th class.

The walk-off is really crappy. Do yourself a favor and take the time to find the rap bolts near the top of the route unless you really like bushwhacking through thorns and sharp, dead pine branches. Sep 5, 2015
rien WaNderlust
rien WaNderlust   Nederland
Fun outing! Straightforward- pitch 1 was nice...no biggie...lots of loose blocks throughout which added to the adventure. Unroped after 4 pitches, and the crest turned out to be the best of the climb! Awesome views! Fun, easy climb in tranquil setting. Nice exposure. Hike down stinks! Have fun. Sep 17, 2015
Rich Kelly
Rich Kelly   Boulder
Staying right at the top of pitch 4 leads to steeper rock that was fun and challenging (5.7-5.8) and wel-protected. Also, we descended climber's right (south) which had little bushwhacking and the added bonus of passing by the Santa Rita Wall where one can do a little sport climbing. Jul 31, 2016
Bill Duncan
Jamestown, CO
  5.7+ R
Bill Duncan   Jamestown, CO
  5.7+ R
There is now a rap station about 20' north of where one tops out climbing The Ridge. There are 2 options: a free hanging rappel to a large ledge, or continue further (total of about 200') to a tree. There are slings around a small tree on the ledge, that lead you into a steep bushwhacking adventure, but if you continue, the 200' way is fairly clean. MUCH easier than the walkoff. Aug 9, 2017
Sam Tobler
Little Rock, AR
Sam Tobler   Little Rock, AR
Great climb! It has runouts up to 50 feet but has a good alpine feel, and the good holds are all there when you need them. It might be a good idea to split up pitch 4 (the pitch that gains the ridge) into two pitches if you go left guidebooks suggest. I had some of the worst rope drag of my life belaying at the top of pitch 4. Also, if you hike up 50 to 70 feet to the left of the direct start of the ridge, there is a 30 foot 5.4/5.5 variation to do pitch 1. It looks steep, but the blocks are solid and positive (keep your mind open to natural pro such as rock horns/chickenheads). Sep 3, 2017