Avg: 3.5 from 20 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 500 ft (152 m), 4 pitches, Grade II|
|Page Views:||13,551 total · 99/month|
|Shared By:||Mark Oveson on Jun 28, 2009|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC|
For additional information about raptor closures, please visit the Rocky Mountain National Parks area closures website.
Climb the beautiful, clean buttress staying close to the ridge for three or four moderate pitches, following knobs and crack systems. The easiest route may venture to the east or west side for brief periods but always returns to the ridge. Most of the climbing is 5.4 or easier. The 5.5-5.6 crux is near the top of the fourth pitch, just before topping out on the initial buttress. At the crux are three crack systems, two to the east and one to the west of the ridge. The easiest climbing follows the leftmost of the three crack systems.
After topping out on the initial buttress, scramble up to the base of an upper white-and-pink slab crossed by a darker diagonal band. Enjoy hundreds of feet of scenic 3rd-class scrambling as you approach an upper headwall. Bypass the headwall on the left by a shadowy, exposed ramp. There were small patches of ice in this area during our late-June ascent. The climbing is only 4th class, but use caution as a slip here could launch you into the abyss.
Above the headwall, several hundred feet of talus take you to the summit.
Throughout the climb, the rock is solid and featured with cracks and knobs. The pink- and grey-colored granite is bombproof, and the white granite is good but slightly friable in places. For a rarely visited Alpine climb, it is amazingly clean.
The position is classic. To the left is Pagoda's south cirque and beautiful Keplinger Lake. To the right is Mount Meeker and, once above the initial buttress, unparalleled views of the south face of Longs and the Palisades.
Why this climb is not in any guidebook is a mystery. It compares favorably with the other moderate classics in the Park, including the North Ridge of Spearhead and the Northeast Ridge of Sharkstooth, though it is slightly easier and shorter than either of those climbs.
Descent: From the summit of Pagoda Mountain, descend northeast to the Longs-Pagoda saddle, then follow talus and snow back into the basin east of the Crescent Ridge and return to Sandbeach Lake. You may want an ice axe and possibly crampons for the descent, depending on snow conditions. Sandbeach Lake can be difficult to find when descending; consider taking a waypoint reading on the north shore of the lake as you approach.