Type: Trad, Grade IV
FA: Herbert Towle, 1935
Page Views: 63,517 total · 317/month
Shared By: BrianWinslow on Sep 4, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Ladd Raine, Jonathan S, Robert Hall

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Description Suggest change

The Armadillo has just about everything you could hope for in an alpine climb: Chimney climbing, face climbing, crack climbing, ridge climbing, big time exposure, solitude on the route mixed with gawking, awed filled hikers at the top.This route climbs at least 6 pitches of the huge pyramid and ridge in the middle of the south basin to the rim of the mountain, 10 minutes from Baxter Peak.

Expect to get an early start and plan for a long day. The rangers will inspect your gear and require you to bring a #4 camalot, or equivalent cam. You'll need to fill out an itinerary form and leave the camp by 8 am.

The approach is long, and somewhat sketchy. Rock hop around the right side of Chimney pond until you come to the stream bed on the south side (back.) Follow the stream bed (which will have a lot of water after rain) south to the headwall of the basin, at the waterfall which makes up the start of the Ciley Barber route in winter. Skirt the waterfall on the left (in the trees without a rope or via some easy but technical climbing through the rock band.) Cross the stream at another headwall and follow loose wet slabs and vegetation up and to the right until you can access a narrow vegetated ledge which will lead left to the start of the climb. There is a chock stone blocking convenient access on this ledge, which can easily be passed, however it is very exposed and roping up before this point is safe and convenient. Build an anchor below and to the right of the small flake with a pin. Plan for at least 2 hours on the approach but it may take you 3.

NOTE- For a recent update on the approach see the excellent comment by Joshua King in the COMMENTs. Perhaps a bit long but excellent Beta.

Pitch 1, the chimney: From the vegetated ledge clip an old pin on your left and boulder up to the next ledge system, move left to the base of the huge detached flake. Stem, jam and wedge you way up the chimney behind the flake to the second comfortable ledge, about 2/3 of the way up the big flake. (5.5)

!Pitch 2, the face: Climb on the fat arete of the flake for about 20 feet (protection can easily be found in the hand crack on the right.) Move left just below an old pin (when you run out of comfortable feet) onto the face of the flake for some very exposed face climbing to the top of the flake. (5.7 PG)

Pitch 3, the bad ass crack: Climb straight up the splitter crack. It starts as big hands and is easily protected with a #3 cam (keep sliding it up with you if you only have one.) Quickly pass a chock stone (red TCU) and climb up to the Bong. Dump the #3 as the crack turns into fist and more and start to protect with a #4 cam (again, slide it up with you if you only have one.) 30 feet or so above the bong the crack widens to 6 inches for a few feet. Soon the climbing eases up and protection can be had with a #9 and #10 nut as well as a #2 cam a little higher. At the top of the crack belay with gear in the 1.5 in range behind a solid flake at a comfortable ledge. Be careful of the loose rock at the top of this pitch. (5.7) WooHoo!

Pitch 4, the corners: From here the quality of climbing changes character. Access a ledge 15 feet above the crack and make progress through a few short dihedrals to the left separated easy climbing and rest ledges. Belay just below the crest of the ridge, or the spine of the Armadillo. Again, be careful of the loose rock. (5.5)

Pitches 5 and 6, the ridge: Climb the ridge to the top, which is basically 4th class hiking with a few 5th class moves. Be careful as most of the rocks are pretty loose. Many people simulclimb the last two pitches.

From the junction of the Armadillo with the knife edge trail you can hike to the summit (Baxter Peak) if you go right (northwest) and then down the Cathedral or Saddle trail. The Saddle trail is much nicer to hike down with your rack and rope in your pack. You can also go left and cross the knife edge and Pamola four/Chimney Peak and then down the Dudley trail.

Location Suggest change

The middle of the south basin, directly south from Chimney pond. The route starts about 2/3 of the way up the wall on a giant flake which leads to a crack and then the ridge up to the rim.

Protection Suggest change

A standard rack, light on the small gear, plus a #4 cam. 1 blue and 1 black tri-cam are very useful.