Type: Trad, Alpine, 20 pitches, Grade III
FA: Scott Thelen (2008)
Page Views: 9,529 total · 145/month
Shared By: fossana on Jul 16, 2013
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

9 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Always check SEKI road conditions and peregrine closures Details


Being a ridge traverse there are many ways to go on some sections. Choose you own adventure. I found the most sustained part to be surmounting the first headwall.

In relation to something like Matthes, it's longer, more sustained and more exposed.


Start as far down the lower angled slabs as you wish.

Scramble off to the west until you can drop down onto the talus field that puts you west of the Prism. There is also a trail descent down Elizabeth Pass, but it's longer. For this you'll have to head NE down the slabs and cross-country to the Elizabeth Pass trail.


no fixed gear or anchors
Chad N
Central California
Chad N   Central California
This is fun ridge traverse climbing. Agree w/ fossana about the headwall being sustained and it's probably the crux. Several options here and it felt like I chose the easiest; felt like 5.7+ face climbing on crusty flakes and cracks. After the headwall is gained, climbing through the slot is fun as there is a perfect hand crack. Then the ridge fun begins. Some class 3 and 4 mixed in with mid-5th and anything up to 5.10 if you wish. I stuck with the all the easiest options and 5.7 is a good grade for this climb. The exposure had me laughing it was so good! Wore climbing shoes for the headwall then switched to approach shoes for the ridge. The descent is not trivial. A great link-up would be to climb the Prizm, then traverse its ridge, rap and climb Saber. Saber is probably a better solo for those comfortable as carrying in gear and pitching up would be long and brutal, but still a great adventure for those looking for that. Jul 16, 2014
Brice Pollock
Oakland, CA
  5.7+ PG13
Brice Pollock   Oakland, CA  
  5.7+ PG13
On September 7th, 2017 I climbed Saber Ridge not knowing much about it. My initial thoughts were that it would be several sustained pitches of 5.7+ to gain the ridge and then a 3-4th class cruise along the ridgeline. I was surprised to find after the headwall most of the ridge continues to gain about 700 ft of elevation and remains in the 5.5-5.7 with most sections runout with poor pro selection and high exposure. Too much for me to consider simul-climbing it as the gear is questionable and the rock quality not feeling bomber enough for no-fall climbing.

I don't want to overwhelm the page with my response so I go more into detail on the technical description here

...and discuss the overall adventure and bivy of the climb here

Some general information:
* Stay on the ridge as much as possible
* The route feels very unclimbed with grainy granite, hollow flakes and dirty cracks
* I spent a significant time trying to find reliable pro for three piece anchors best start looking 10m left in rope.


P1: From top of dihedral traverse right into a small right facing corner. Continue up the runnel until you run out of rope.

P2: Go up diagonal crack until you can gain the ridge proper. Climb until you run out of rope. I belayed in the where a bunch of cracks appear but they were pretty flared so it was a marginal anchor.

P3: This is the 5.7+ technical crux pitch. You do a sort of S maneuver out right of the headwall. Then going up and diagonally left to get back on the ridge. The middle of this pitch is steep face climbing that can be runout. Our leader ran it out 50ft. Chicken heads are probably your best bet for pro. Belayed from a dark crack next to chicken heads and a couple of potholes.

From the many cracks belay our leader traversed ten feet right and then did a steep move to get back up to ridge proper using bushy crack. It probably is better to just get up the ridge from belay.

P4: Go up the ridge on face holds to the dark granite slot where the cracks begin again.

P5: Continue up the ridge

P6: Climb up the dark slot's flared, dirty cracks. Had to get out and right of slot to make an anchor.

P7: Continue up easy stuff to ridge

P8-9: Continue along the ridge. We switched to simul follow off one rope here since the exposure was high but the technicality moderate.

P10-12: One long simulclimb off a double rack until reaching a raised, leaning part of ridge.

(Don't go too far out on this raised section as it is spicy and only cliffs out)

P13: Left of the raised section rap down to the rock below to continue up ridge

P14: Gain the ridge again and do the first knife edge traverse by pulling on the ridge and smearing grainy granite with feet

P15: Continue up ridge, shuffling feet in a crack off to get past an exposed section.

P16-17: Continue on ridge. A couple more knife edge sections.

P18-19: You see the point in the ridge now. Go off the ridge into the 3rd class on the right.


In one long simul-climb, go around the high point and around the backside. Take the ridge East for some easy 5.4 technical downclimbing to the first gulley. There is a climber's trail down it, but you can see that it cliffs out in a few hundred feet of slab. Instead, continue over to the second gulley by keeping right of the ridge proper / 'hole' to get past the high point and then going left into the gulley via easy 5.4 downclimbing. From here descend the gulley. We took the drainages towards the bottom but you could possibly also take some of the low angle rock slab.


  • 45 min approach from Tamarack Lake
  • 1.15 hrs to solo lower slabs
  • 7 hrs to gain headwall (P8)
  • 2.5 hrs to get to first rise in ridge where we had to rappel (P13)
  • 6 hrs to high point (P19)
  • 1.15 hrs downclimb to reach gulley
  • 2.46 hrs down gulley to reach Tamarack Lake


  • Approach: 2 hrs
  • Climb: 15.5 hrs
  • Descent: 4 hrs
  • Cresent Meadow to Tamarack Lake: 15 miles, 5000 ft, 11 hrs
  • Tamarack Lake to Cresent Meadow: 7 hrs
  • Showers every day after 2pm often at 5pmĀ at Tamarack Lake (they lasted 0.5-4 hrs)
Sep 25, 2017
Thanks Brice for the post and links. Good to get more input about difficulty, exposure and time.

Is the pitch 13 20m rap mandatory or a variation that required the rap? Oct 1, 2017
Brice Pollock
Oakland, CA
  5.7+ PG13
Brice Pollock   Oakland, CA  
  5.7+ PG13
@splitclimber, it was getting dark around P13 so I didn't look around very long. It seemed mandatory to me, but there could be other variations. Jan 30, 2018
I've never posted on MP before, but feel it's important for moderate climbers to know that Saber is doable in a short day without soloing as long as you keep moving together. We simul-climbed this ridge in a long half-day. It was fun and enjoyable with plenty of protection. The rock is high quality compared to the vast majority of alpine routes. Take a full rack and plenty of runners to make the most of your simul blocks. We did about 7 'pitches' to the 'summit'. There is no need to rappel. If you stick to the ridge crest, footholds and handholds appear as you begin the short downclimbing sections. After you reach the high point, the descent is straightforward, continue ridge climbing down to the West, go past the first south-facing gully (steep) and then drop into the second one (not steep), which starts at an obvious notch. Our traverse from the summit to the gully was 1 long simul climb. Additionally, if you get benighted, just bring a headlamp, the routefinding is obvious as you're just following the path of least resistance on a sharp ridgeline, you can definitely climb through the night and have fun doing it. Don't over pack or over prepare or take unnecessary risks, it's all doable and manageable at a moderate level. Go get it! So awesome! May 30, 2018
Leo Franchi  
Climbed Saber Ridge on 7/2/18. What an awesome climb! Some of the best alpine ridge climbing I've done -- felt like it rivaled W Ridge of Pigeon (minus the amazing snowfields all around) or other super-long alpine ridges like Mt Sir Donald (though much more technical than Sir Donald). I definitely didn't find the 5.7 route up the headwall -- I ended up on what felt more like 5.9, steep jugs over knobs and flakes, which was pretty wild and awesome!

For another data point on how long the route is: my partner and I pitched out all the pitches except a 3-pitch simul before the midway rap (we did the rap), and again a 3-pitch simul at the end through the 4th class to the summit ridge. With a 60m rope we probably did 15-20 total pitches, it was hard to keep count.

Camp to camp it took us about 14 hours: ~2hrs till we roped up, ~10 hours on the ridge until we unroped at the top of the descent gully, and 2 hours to hike back to camp. Feels doable in a day as a party of two even if you don't simul the entire thing.

Thanks Brice for the detailed beta and JLo for the opposing data point :) Get out there and do this route!! Jul 5, 2018
Jon Fox  
We camped near Elizabeth Ck and climbed 29-June-18 in 19.5 hrs. camp to camp, pitching out the entire route with 70m twins. Started up the left side on a short finger crack with flowers hanging out. 2nd pitch was the crux at 5.7, pulling a lieback up the right side of small roof. Third pitch wandered up right side of the 1st bump to some crazy huge holds (5.6 runout) near the very end of 1st bump. My partner was a little too overwhelmed with the exposure. I placed a rappel anchor at the midpoint (25 ft.) and at the top of the descent gully (200 ft.). Can't wait to share this route with Danny and Rebecca... Jul 10, 2018
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
Better than Matthes. I'll give it to Matthes that it looks cooler from most angles as it rises out of relatively flat ground, while Saber is on a hillside. But the climbing, knife-edginess, and rock are all better. Even a real summit. Someone should put a register up there

The downclimbs are chill, not sure where I would have rapped. I stayed on the very ridge 99% of the time until almost to the summit where it makes sense to venture off to the right side.

Also, if you're camped at Tamarack Lake, you can descend a gully to the east. The second gully to the east of Saber leads straight down to the lake, is easy to access, and goes super quick. Aug 16, 2018