Type: Trad, 2000 ft, 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: weigelt+bonnerville aug 1970 with fin Cruver+Lewis Jul 1975
Page Views: 26,646 total · 198/month
Shared By: Pax on Dec 2, 2007 with updates from Twisty Deets and 1 other
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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There are good images in the comments that could be utilized to create an actual "beta" section for this climb.  I just completed it yesterday and some info about the start, the orientation of the pitches en route to the OW, the looseness of the stone between the OW and the Fin, especially the choss highway preceding the Fin, and the amazingly precarious blocks one should expect to find throughout the route would all be welcome additions.  There's a notch at the top of the Fin that could be a good visual goal to keep people on route, go too far left and you're in the Triple Couloir gully, too far right and you might find yourself pulling some 10hard crack moves without feet, only to have a blank wall of the other side or old rap tat from other parties.

Gear, double rack to 2" plus 4" and 6" will offer plenty of gear for simul sections and belays as well as keep everything very safe without extraneous weight.  

Thanks for putting in the effort to make this site totally fucking awesome!


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".


Peter Franzen
Phoenix, AZ
Peter Franzen   Phoenix, AZ  
I'll second that comment. A 12 pitch climb like this really deserves to be fleshed out some more. Dec 3, 2007
Pete Hickman
Tacoma, WA
Pete Hickman   Tacoma, WA
Any idea what kind of snow conditions we might be looking at in the last week of May this year? Route doable? Apr 16, 2008
mark kerns
denver, co
mark kerns   denver, co

Notes -
There is a lot of 4th class climbing. you will gain a lot of vertical quickly in this 4th class section. be efficient on the 4th class ground to give yourself enough time when the going is more technical.

we went light on cams for our rack, taking tricams, hexes and stoppers for weight savings. looking back, i would take a more standard cams based rack.

amazing exposure on the top "fin" pitches. great climbing. four stars.

This one can be done as a long day climb from the parking lot. it's burly but can be done. i think we did it in about 18 hours round trip. i slept good that night.... Jul 21, 2008
Keenan Waeschle
Bozeman, MT
Keenan Waeschle   Bozeman, MT
how scary is the offwidth without a #5? is it secure enough to (basically) rope solo? I don't climb many offwidths but I'm trying to get my skills up. I don't want to spend a ton of money on a piece of gear I'll only use once. May 14, 2010
Matteo Fiori
Mariposa, CA
Matteo Fiori   Mariposa, CA
We had trouble finding the 5.6 initial corner that leads to the crux dihedral and instead went up a 5.7 obvious open book for two full pitches (with lots of mossy gardens) that bypassed the crux and ensuing 5.7/5.8 cracks. The open book is to the left of the shorter corner and a good way to gain the ridge for those less interested in battling the 5.9 OW. Aug 30, 2010
Daniel Coltrane
Seattle, WA
Daniel Coltrane   Seattle, WA
I brought a #5 & #6 for the offwideth and was glad to have both. I Don't like 30 foot runouts on offwidth 5.9. Lots of loose rock on the route. Aug 16, 2011
max huecksteadt
Portland, OR
max huecksteadt   Portland, OR
First alpine rock route...trial by fire with a grade IV+! Glad to have a #5 and #6 for the offwidth but you can stem if you have poor technique (I did after my knee got stuck...!). Route finding isn't too tough, it seems most pitches will go at the same rating on-route or off (most not all!)...on the Fin follow the obvious weaknesses and you can solo past the first (huge) gendarme on the backside. Car to car makes a long day... Jul 27, 2012
Bring a #6 and you will be much happier and safer unless you are a OW guru. I did not have a #6 and did not feel safe trying to push my single tipping out #5 up (which was basically useless and would not take any kind of fall higher up). Cool route, lots of choss. Aug 19, 2012
clint helander
anchorage, alaska
clint helander   anchorage, alaska
you can sling a few chockstones in the offwidth. Then you get up on toward the top and there's good finger sized pro if i recall correctly.

A stellar route with incredible views. one of my favs. Jan 27, 2013
geoff georges
Seattle, Wa.
geoff georges   Seattle, Wa.
classic 5.9 alpine rock route. #6 Camalot for sure if you want to protect the OW. It starts out as wide hands, at least 30-40' of wide, with 1-2 chockstones mid way, and good smaller cracks above. Sep 17, 2013
I understand that there are some bivy sites just below the fin. Is that true? Can anyone give me some info on them... are they secure? Do you need to stay roped in? We were thinking of doing a late afternoon start on the route, and "enjoying" an evening on the mountain. Jul 23, 2014
Chris Sepic
Bend, OR
Chris Sepic   Bend, OR
Really wished I had brought either a #6 or a big bro in addition to the #5 for the offwidth. Aug 18, 2014
Jere   Washington
This route is now an all time favorite! Check out this trip report from late July 2014.

Backbone Ridge Route Trip Report

guidedexposure.blogspot.com… Aug 18, 2014
fourteenfour   PNW // SLC // PWM
It's been said before but worth mentioning: Take a #6 & #4 for the OW. Leave the #5 at home. Sep 7, 2014
I'd suggest to anyone wondering that they should bring a #6. I did it a couple of days ago without one and it was spicy. The OW isn't super hard, but if you leave your #5 in a decent placement below and cast off you're way out from it by the time you get to another piece. If for some reason you blew it and came out you'd take a really nasty fall. 5.9 R/X without a #6 for sure.

Classic route, but lots of choss and shitty climbing too. The Fin is a solid and super fun feature. Other than that, and the OW pitch the route is pretty crappy as far as rock quality goes. Adventurous alpine climb though! Would recommend to anyone interested in such things though. Sep 8, 2014
Nick Drake
Newcastle, WA
Nick Drake   Newcastle, WA
It's a big day c2c, don't skimp on weight for your headlamp. Really fun route with what seem like endless variations. Spot the offwidth early on your approach in the scree (class 4 ramps go higher than you think), it's worth your time. I am not sure what all the fuss about the offwidth is from, it's secure with great feet, and only one very short and steep bump. Don't be bypass it, this is a really fun pitch.

We trended mostly left from here, starting by going far left of the roof above the offwidth. A few 5.8 moves here or there, but generally easy climbing.

On the fin there are so many options, if it sounds like the beta you are getting disagrees than the parties likely took different lines. If you get suckered in to the many crack systems trending straight up it will top you out on the fin early, going over the fin there will put you in the top of the triple couloirs bowling alley.

We followed Nelson's Selected Climbs, to do this just stay low at the start trending right. The undercling he describes high on the fin looks intimidating from below, but it has great gear (BD #1-3) and the feet you need are clean (thick black lichen in this area). This leads up left to the top of the fin, traverse across it and take a wide ramp back down on the north side. The next gully over will lead you to the south of dragontail in class 2 terrain, no shenanigans required. Sep 14, 2015
Leavenworth, WA
J.Roatch   Leavenworth, WA
Blake Herrington's new book on select multi-pitch climbs in the Cascades has great info on this route.

Just did it today, found the route-finding to be very straight forward after having read a few reports and looked at some photos.

No need for a 4 or 5, plenty of places to put small gear when you need pro. C4 6 is a must for the offwidth.

Stellar climb! The climbing itself took us 8 hours, we simulclimbed 200 meters after the offwidth pitch. Jul 2, 2016
Wenatchee, WA
DrApnea   Wenatchee, WA
TR posted up at
guyettes.blogspot.com/2016/… Jul 4, 2016
Quick question: it's clear that the OW wants a #6 pretty badly. Has anyone placed a Big Bro instead? If so, how bomber was it? I don't have a 6, and would prefer to save a bit of cash and weight if I gotta buy a piece. Jun 9, 2017
hmmm, trying to save money by buying a big bro instead of spending just a little more for a #6 seems like a major losing proposition. you will end up using the 6 a lot more and it will pay the difference in a really short time. Jun 9, 2017
Blake's guidebook mentions something along the lines of "The 5.10 climber won't find a #6 necessary". This is due to the security of the P2 OW.

I couldn't find any trip reports echoing this sentiment but I decided to keep the weight down (and not bring any gear bigger than a BD #3) when I climbed this route. I think it was the right call. I'm no OW guru and I was pretty darn scared with the runout, but I think that if you keep the leader's pack light the OW climbing actually really is secure enough for a 5.10 leader. I also think the length of the route is such that avoiding the 'dead weight' of big gear pays nice dividends. Jul 5, 2017
anybody have any current conditions to report for this route? in particular is there snow at the start and snow on the easy (non rapping) decent to aasgard? thanks! Jul 11, 2017
As of 7/15 there was still quite a bit of snow on both the approach and the descent. On approach the snow can be avoided for the most part by sticking to the moraine ridge (maybe 10m of snow to cross from the end of the ridge to the beginning of the route). A moat was beginning to form.

On the descent there was a lot more snow, and being on the backside of the mountain was much icier than the other side. We did not bring crampons and really, really wished we had them. Jul 20, 2017
We did this route 7/29, or some variation of it. We couldn't gain the ramps, the snow was too frozen when we got to the traverse about 830 in the morning (no crampons or ice ax). We went up close to the moraine, the snow wasn't as steep and crossing the moat wasn't too bad. Not sure what the first pitch would be rated, but it was probably in the 5.10+ range. Once we got past that the climbing was pretty moderate, and we simul climbed quite a few pitches. We were climbers right of the backbone ridge.
We eventually did join the backbone route, but not until we were close to the fin. Never did get to use that #6 we hauled the whole way.

Should be said there's a 2 pitch rappel off the backside with a 60 meter rope. First rappel is great, second rappel you're on the ground, but basically have to rappel off the end of your rope. Jul 30, 2017
Approach (2-4 hrs): we burned an hour chopping steps in hard snow. Microspikes or aluminums would've been well worth it. The start is obvious. Scramble up and left, go level and hard left, then scramble up and right via easiest path to a flat spot on the arete proper (decent bivy, some slings around trees). 4th to low 5th, depending on route.

P1 (5.5ish, short): scramble up blocks to the base of the obvious OW which is immediately right of the jutting arete. Fight a tree depending on your route.

P2 (5.9, half rope): Hands to OW. My buddy bumped a 4 and then a 6 through the crux. Happy to have the 6.

P3-6ish (low 5th to 5.7, as long as you can make them): Climb up generally on the left side of the ridge. Dirty cracks and some ledges. Might find some cool corners and cracks.

P7-10ish (3rd to 5.5ish): Simul or run it out along the ridge with the Fin in sight. At the base of the Fin, the goal is to staircase up and right. Begin by taking a short 5.4ish headwall up and trend right to the base of the obvious big chimney. Set a sheltered belay as the rock in the gully is quite loose.

P11 (5.7ish PG-13 due to rock, 200 ft), climb up the chimney and run out as far as you can on the next ledge.

P12 (5.7, 150 ft): At the seemingly highpoint of the ledge, Follow discontinuous cracks up the face and slightly left to gain the next ledge. You should be well under and to the right of a big roof block.

P13 (5.9, 180 ft): Some 5.9ish face moves into a big left-facing dihedral with an excellent crack with some hollow flakes in it. Again, reach a ledge and trend right.

P14 (5.9?, 160 ft): I think we were off here. We followed the blue line in one of the photos along cracks angling up and right to a v-slot bypassing a roof. The V-slot was closer to 5.10 with weird fingers and sketch feet. Couple bail pieces were here. Might be best to swing around the corner/arete to the right earlier and then go up to a small belay?

P15 (5.9, 100 ft): Undercling pitch. You can see some parties went up and left and apparently had to bail off. The undercling goes up and right before easing in a dihedral up and slightly left. Well protected cracks lead to the intimidating undercling. The undercling is about 15 ft long with just adequate feet. While the pro is good, it is strenuous and I was glad my partner led it, placing somewhat blindly.

From the top of the ridge, follow a ramp right to join the top of Serpentine at class 3-4 with some loose to watch for. We scrambled up and did a clockwise spiral to top out.

Descent: Follow the trail south to Asgard Pass. Cross the snowfield (spikes helpful without a bootpack) N-NE and contour over to the Colchuck Pass trail. There are cairns the whole way. Shouldn't exceed Class 2. Aug 21, 2017
Benjamin Pontecorvo
Seattle, WA
Benjamin Pontecorvo   Seattle, WA
-we did it in 15 hours car to car
-on the fin I recommend taking the left most cracks, we ran into trouble and had to downclimb, and re climb more left to get over to the gulley. There is a blue nut we left up there if you make the same mistake
-once you find the OW the route finding is not too bad, just be prepared to simul alot and it goes quickly.
-The OW is actually secure and not bad, but I would still bring a big cam if I did it again. Aug 22, 2017
Double rack to 2" plus 4" and 6" will keep everything very safe with enough gear for simul sections and belays. Sep 2, 2018