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Routes in Pagoda Mountain

Crescent Ridge T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Late to the Party - Bypass T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
North Buttress T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Northeast Face T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
West Ridge T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
West Ridge Bypass T Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Type: Trad, Alpine, 500 ft, 4 pitches, Grade II
FA: unknown
Page Views: 10,717 total, 105/month
Shared By: Mark Oveson on Jun 28, 2009
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Seasonal Closures Details

Description

The climb consists of an initial technical buttress followed by a long, 3rd-class ridge and a final, tricky headwall.

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.

Location

Crescent Ridge extends southeast then due south from the summit of Pagoda Mountain. From the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead, hike 4.5 miles to Sandbeach Lake, then bushwhack another 2 miles northwest, staying north of Mount Orton. Before long you will begin to see glimpses of the obvious Crescent Ridge through the trees. At least one creek crossing is involved in this approach and your feet are likely to get wet. Once you are near treeline, take a left and scramble up to the ridge south of a large, rocky dome. Scramble over the dome and down into a broad, U-shaped notch, then up to the base of the initial buttress.

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.

Protection

Standard alpine rack up to #2 Camalot with an emphasis on smaller pieces.
Joe Purtell  
 
Excellent route. It's possible to continue up the second headwall rather than taking the bypass ramp. The small roof isn't to tricky to get around, and it's nice to stick to the ridge line the whole way up. Sep 16, 2016
brucelacroix
Portland, OR.
  5.6
brucelacroix   Portland, OR.
  5.6
A great ridge climb/scramble. The last 4th class ramp is really enjoyable and exposed too. Jul 23, 2016
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
  5.6
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
  5.6
Mark and Bill, this route is listed in Richard Rossiter's new guidebook to RMNP, with very good approach and descent information. Nice to see it get the recognition, but I'm not sure how crowded I want the climb (and approach) to get. Jul 4, 2015
Bill Duncan
Jamestown, CO
Bill Duncan   Jamestown, CO
Keen describes it well. This ridge is worth the approach and certainly ranks among the fine ridges in the Park, especially for its grade. Jul 15, 2011
This thing was fun - one of the best ridge routes I've done in the park. Although there are only a couple hundred feet of 5th class climbing, the ridge is long, scenic, has quality rock, a lot of character, a great summit, and a rugged approach. Aug 13, 2010
Bill Duncan
Jamestown, CO
Bill Duncan   Jamestown, CO
I too was amazed to find no record of this ridge anywhere. I've been eyeing it for years. Thanks for posting the info! It's now firmly on the hit list. Aug 24, 2009
Mark Oveson
Louisville, Colorado
 
Mark Oveson   Louisville, Colorado
 
Bill Briggs provided the inspiration for Bill Wright and I to do this route. He has climbed the route several times, including a solo ascent described here:

adventurerun.wordpress.com/…

Briggs is sure someone else must have climbed it before he did, but he doesn't know who did the FA, so he thinks it best that we leave it Unknown. We did not see any piton scars or other signs of passage. Jul 13, 2009
I've heard this route referred to as The Scythe (Bill Briggs gave it that name when he did it several years ago; he had already done the technical lower portion of the route a number of years before that, though I'm not certain whether that was its first ascent). Jun 30, 2009