All Locations > International > North America > Canada > British Columbia > Columbia Mountains > Selkirk Mountains > Sir Sanford Group
Northwest Ridge/Standard Route
Avg: 2.5 from 2 votes
|Type:||Trad, Ice, Alpine, 3500 ft, Grade III|
|FA:||William Putnam, L R Wallace, 1967|
|Page Views:||976 total, 11/month|
|Shared By:||Ken Trout on Dec 14, 2010|
The Northwest Ridge didn't catch on until the 1980s, after several near misses with serac avalanches crashing down the 1946 Hourglass route. Why did climbers keep choosing the obviously dangerous lower Hourglass Route? Probably because of the easier approach from the Great Cairn Hut (approx 6,250'). The Northwest Ridge is a safe way to reach the 50 degree ice pitch of the actual hourglass feature above most of the big ice cliffs.
From the hut, traverse to the Sandford Glacier and climb to the junction with the Minaret Col fork of the glacier. Decide how you want to dodge the crevasses and icefall based on current conditions. Aim for the Ravelin-Sanford col on the Northwest Ridge, via easy snow. The col is a possible high bivouac for parties based out of the Great Cairn Hut (approx 8,550').
After the col, stay on the crest of the ridge until difficult gendarmes begin blocking the way (approx 9,000'). Avoid the difficult part of the ridge by moving right of the crest (west). Connect ledges for another 500 feet, then traverse left below the next difficult step (approx 9,700'). Staying on the ridge is reported to be as hard as 5.7 on loose marble with sharp crystals (approx 9,000'-9,700').
Back on the ridge, below the final difficult rock step, there is a choice of routes to gain the summit slopes & ridge. Either dodge the rock by a short traverse left to the 50 degree ice of the Hourglass or attack the rock ridge more directly, rotten 5.7 (approx 9,700'-9.900').
On the way down, two rappels have been used to descend the 5.7 step, or buttress, on the ridge (approx 9,700'-9,900'). It is also possible to rappel the hourglass, if conditions are solid.
The Hourglass ice pitch is the best way, if one can stay close to the rock. The 'schrund may block access to the Hourglass, forcing a too-long traverse left. In that case avalanche exposure becomes a bummer. After the Hourglass pitch, look for a gully to regain the ridge (appox 9,900').
Climb a relatively easy slope to the summit ridge (approx 11,200'). The final ridge is described in some reports as exposed and fun. Others have found a serious double-cornice challenge to reach the summit (exactly 11,555').