Type: Trad, Alpine, 2000 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,965 total · 31/month
Shared By: Joshua Payne on Oct 8, 2013
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

5 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


The West Ridge Direct route is a very rarely climbed variation on the West Ridge route. Basically it simply follows Little Bear's prominent west ridgeline all the way to the summit. I climbed after doing the standard (Hourglass) route, and one of the guys with me had previously done the Northwest Face. The consensus was that this route is much more difficult and exposed than either of those. The ridgeline varies in width from about 4' at the widest sections, down to less than 1' at the narrowest.

The exposure is extreme, the climbing is scary, and the rock is not so great, but overall it is an incredibly fun route. We free-soloed this in a party of 6, I wouldn't recommend bringing a rope or rack as the extra gear would more get in the way than help. A helmet is a must.


Gain the West Ridge proper as described for the West Ridge (Hourglass) route. After passing the last large notch in the ridgline, climb to the ridge proper, instead of traversing south to the Hourglass gully. Once on the west ridge proper, stay on the top of the ridge for nearly the entire climb, negotiating the towers and headwalls as they come.

There are two "crux" sections on this route, a roughly 5.4 chimney with a large chockstone at the top, followed shortly by a 5.2 slab with some old webbing near the top.

The 5.4 Chimney

The 5.2 Slab

Near the summit we turned south towards some cairns that mark the upper portion of the hourglass route, however, I think you can stay on the ridge all of the way to the summit.


- No Photos -
Chase Hathaway
albuquerque, nm
  5.5 R
Chase Hathaway   albuquerque, nm
  5.5 R
One of the most amazing alpine routes I've done when connected with the Blanca Traverse. Free soloed with alpine start of 4am from the lake. @Little Bear summit 620. @Blanca 915.

When you come face to face with the chimney (slightly off axis right of ridge center), you have the option of bypassing to the left under a bulge. I give this route a 5.5 R because a slip in either variation is guaranteed fatal if soloing (the chimney acts as a funnel off the ridgeline and the bypass is in free air).

It is a MUST DO!, but be SURE you are comfortable with exposure. We had a 40m rope, set of nuts, and a few select cams up to BD #1. At the chimney, I saw little space to 1, gear up and 2, set protection. Granted it was dark, so if doing this in daylight, you may have more success placing gear, but be harnessed up well beforehand (start of ridge proper after the lower ridge traverse), because space is not available to do so below the crux. Sep 1, 2017