Type: Trad, 2000 ft (606 m), 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: weigelt+bonnerville aug 1970 with fin Cruver+Lewis Jul 1975
Page Views: 37,509 total · 223/month
Shared By: Pax on Dec 2, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters

You & This Route

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Backbone Ridge ascends from the lower right side of the north face of Dragontail Peak in a left-trending line to the summit.  It has a combination of some memorable pitches on clean granite and some lower angle scrambling which can be loose in places.

Start by scrambling up and left on bushy ledges until getting cliffed out, then turn up and right back towards the ridge crest.  The first pitch starts where the wall steepens at a clean white low angle corner.

P1 (60m, 5.6): Climb the low angle white corner towards the ridge crest, then climb the ridge crest to the base of the offwidth pitch.

P2 (30m, 5.9): Go straight up the offwidth.  The lower section is protectable with small gear and hand-sized pieces.  The upper half is only protectable with a large cam (BD #6).  Belay at the top.

P3 (60m, 5.8): Walk left, then ascend a blocky corner towards a small roof.  Before the roof, step right and belay.

P4 (50m, 5.8): Climb a low angle finger crack left of the crest, then step left into a wide hands layback when the finger crack gets large.  At the top of the layback, step left and climb cracks and blocks to the sharp ridgeline on the left.

P5-6 (~100m, low 5th): Climb left and down slightly from the sharp ridgeline onto a large ledge.  Scramble back up to the ridge crest and follow it to a small saddle the base of the fin.  This pitch is mostly easy terrain with a few short steps of 5th class and simul climbs well.

P7 (60m, 5.5): Climb up and right along the ramp to the base of the fin.  Belay below the left edge of the fin, in a small alcove below the face.

P8 (30m, 5.8): Climb twin cracks and face holds to a large flat ledge.

P9 (40m, 5.9): Climb the small right-facing corner at the far left edge of the fin, leading to a hand crack and a ledge.  Walk to the far side of the ledge and climb a tricky hand and finger crack around the left corner of the arete, leading back onto the main face of the fin.  Belay at small ledges on the face.

P10 (60+m, 5.8): Climb up the blocky crack, then traverse right along horizontal cracks.  When the crack turns, follow it up, then right again, to a notch in the top of the fin nest to a gendarme.

P11-12 (~100m, low 5th): Climb over the fin, then traverse the ridge on the east side until able to climb back over at a notch.  Follow loose 4th class ledges to the summit ridge and the summit.

Descent note: An alternative rappel descent exists for icy late season conditions.  Scramble east on the ledges below the summit to a rappel station.  2 rappels puts you on a ledge system which can be scrambled north to Asgard Pass.  The upper rappel station is marked with a cairn and is at approximately 47.480N, 120.832W.


On the north face of Dragontail peak. To climber's left of Serpentine Ridge.


A #6 camalot is required for the offwidth. Other than that, a medium rack to #3.5 camalot outta do it. But #5 will become handy in multiple locations, even the "fin".