Type: Trad, Alpine, Grade II
FA: Robert Underhill & Fritiof Fryxell (7/17/31)
Page Views: 7,015 total · 51/month
Shared By: Paul Huebner on Aug 9, 2007
Admins: Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

28 Opinions

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From the Lower Saddle, head southwest up and over to the base of the North Ridge:

1) The first major features you encounter are 2 large pinnacles. Traverse the first one, which is called Pinnochio Pinnacle, on its west side. Go on the east side of the second higher one, named Bonney's Pinnacle.

2) On the far side of Bonney's (south), you'll see a notch that's been formed by the erosion of a small dike. Climb up out of the notch, (easy) and head towards a ledge that leads around on the left side of the ridge. Traverse along on the ledge for approximately 50 feet before heading to the right on another ledge for about 60 feet to a cave-like notch (room) in the ridge.

3) The easiest way out of the so-called room is to descend a few feet to some ledges below and to the right. Then traverse to the west (right) along these ledges into the left edge of the northwest gully.

4) Stay on the right side of the north ridge and in or near the northwest gully. Finally turn left (east) and carefully ascend the crumbling slope of the Black Dike to the sharp notch at the top. In late 9/86, JHMG, Mark Whiton and I had to kick steps. A storm the night before laid down about 4 inches of snow and caused verglas to form on the upper 1000 feet of the Grand. Therefore, this climb became our objective. In the winter-like conditions, climbing out of the notch was the crux for us. Mark started high and led through a 5.8 move. Down a little and to the right it's supposed to be only 5.5?

5) Above the notch, (a bolt and good horizontal crack provided belay). From there easy ledges and slabs go up and around to the east and to the south summit. When Mark and I reached it, we were alone. The wind died and while huge flakes still floated down, the sun came out. Icefloe Lake below just sparkled. Then a party of four ascending the Southwest Couloir (3rd Class) soon joined us.

Most probably downclimb the Southwest Couloir. We traversed back north along the east side of the main summit block -- great view of the whole south side of the Grand -- where a gap allows you to head left (west) back over to the top of the black dike notch. We rapped from there into the dike notch and retraced the North Ridge route back to the Lower Saddle.


A few nuts and a couple of tricams. Mark used a #7 Hex to protect 5.8 crux move. The same Hex came in handy for me at the bottom of the dike while Mark descended it. I'm not sure it would've held if he had slipped on the snow covered diabase rocks of the dike on his way down, but it's all I had.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This is a somewhat popular route due to easy access from the Lower Saddle. In good conditions, a friend of mine soloed it after another climb, he started at 3PM and easily made it back before dark. However, it has been the scene of quite a few epics. Summer snow or hail can linger on the route, making it treacherous, and the route finding can be tricky.

Going down the SW Couloir is simple but puts you far from the Lower Saddle, so most descend the route in some fashion (also tricky). Aug 10, 2007
John McMullen
El Portal, CA
John McMullen   El Portal, CA
I've climbed this a couple times and I agree ... it all depends on the condition of the mountain. It can be intense in the winter. Apr 25, 2009
Mark P Thomas
  Easy 5th
Mark P Thomas   Draper
  Easy 5th
Took us about an hour to summit and about 40 min to descend. The notch was dry when we climbed it, and it was no big deal to solo it, so the rack and shoes were unnecessary, though the rope was nice to rappel into the notch. Other rappels were easy to downclimb around, so I assume people use them when the route is more snow covered?

Make sure to climb Bonney's Pinnacle and Pinocchio Pinnacle on the way down. They have nice views of the Grand and are a very short and fun scrambling detour. Oct 4, 2012
Chris Dickson
Sometimes Lander and someti…
Chris Dickson   Sometimes Lander and someti…
This climb consists of mostly low-5th class moves, with two short vertical pitches that both climb out of notches along the ridge. The first pitch is encountered after passing Bonney Pinnacle on the east side and dropping into the notch. A few moves of 5.4 get you on lower-angle terrain and the ledges used to get up and out of the "Room" mentioned in the description. The second pitch is out of the Black Dike notch just north of the North Summit. Here you have two options: climb a right leaning crack that starts at the very top of the notch (maybe 5.7), OR climb some blocky and broken 5.5 terrain slightly down and right from the top of the notch. After this short pitch, you can contour around the east side of the ridge and scramble up slabs to the north summit (which is the true high point of the Middle.)

If descending the SW Couloir, go west from the North Summit until you find a faint climber's trail that descends into the couloir. I made the mistake of doing a VERY EXPOSED ledge traverse over to the south summit (which gets you nowhere). If going back down the North Ridge, there are several different rap stations to avoid the downclimb into the Black Dike Notch and the Bonney Pinnacle Notch. Jul 27, 2015