Type: Trad, Alpine, 1500 ft, 12 pitches, Grade III
FA: Hans Kraus and Roger Wolcott, 1946.
Page Views: 8,105 total · 60/month
Shared By: Joe Stern on Dec 11, 2007
Admins: Lauren Heerschap, Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

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A truly classic Wind River adventure on pleasant golden granite for a long long way at a moderate grade.

As you're looking at the West Face of Mt. Helen from Titcomb Basin, the Tower Ridge starts by ascending the gentler ridge on the right side of the steep West Face. This involves about 1,000' of climbing, with lots of 5.7 sections in the middle and some 4th class to easy 5th in the beginning and near the top of Tower 1. Pass Tower 2 on the right (to the south). Pass Tower 3 to the left (north) and climb a short section of steep, exposed easy 5th class rock (which often holds snow/ice) to get to the knife-edge saddle between Tower 3 and the summit of Mt. Helen. The summit ridge provides another 500' of entertainment, including the crux climbing.

The entire climb is on excellent rock.


The technical climbing starts a few hundred feet above the base of the ridge, on a prominent large ledge below slabs. Access this ledge from the steep talus gully (or snow early season) immediately south of the ridge.

Descent options are many. Frequently, parties will make a shorter outing of the climb by descending from the summit of Tower 1 instead of continuing to the top of Helen. The mountain is a complex collection of spires, towers, ridges, gullies, ice couloirs, and talus fields. Invest some time in scouting out your options for descent.


Set of nuts, set of cams from fingers to hands, 2 - 60 meter ropes, lots of runners. No bolts here.


Not possible to pass Tower 2 on the south anymore, have to go over. We climbed the right crack of the west face, very licheny, but very cool climbing with chickenheads. Aug 9, 2009
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
Is there a walk-off descent route or should parties plan on rappelling? How long are the rappels, if any? Jun 23, 2018
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Descent options are described by Kelsey:
Summit options: SE Couloir-E Ridge (normal), NW gullies (become icy late summer)
Tower 1 options: downclimb/rap to the SW, S-facing gully between Towers 1 and 2

Rap length not stated. Jun 26, 2018
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
Thanks fossana, I had been looking at a much older edition of the Kelsey guide that did not include descent information, at least not in such detail. The 2013 Kelsey guide is more complete in that respect, as you pointed out. Jul 18, 2018