Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, 700 ft (212 m), 7 pitches, Grade II
FA: FA 1964 Gary Maykut, Len Miller and Joe Witte
Page Views: 2,707 total · 65/month
Shared By: Harvest Mondello on Aug 18, 2018 · Updates
Admins: Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters

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Route

Be warned the rock quality on the West Ridge varies so use extreme caution. Whether you pitch out, simul climb or free climb will depend on your comfort level but the exposure is high. If you get off route you may find yourself on loose class 5.6-5.7. The route is not obvious at times. There's no cairns and no rap stations setup at the time of writing this 8/18/18. Be aware of the high potential for knocking rock on your partners and any other parties below your route.

The Route:

From Snow Dome head across the Blue Glacier without gaining or loosing significant elevation in a Southwest direction. Use Crystal Pass, Five Fingers and Olympus West Summit as reference points. The West Summit is the one far to the West (right) that has snow (Blue Glacier) between it and the West ridge.

Gain the West Ridge via a moat at the lowest point on the ridge at 7,260 elevation. From here you have 600 feet elevation to gain on the ridge and then 100 feet on the summit block.

You can protect the whole ridge but you'll be run out at times so it's PG13 protection.The route is never harder than YDS 5.4 and never easier than class 3. If it looks tougher you're off route. Stay high on the ridge at first but slightly to the South side until you see a steep area with several shallow gullies. Here trend right away to the South side of the ridge from the ridge proper and a tall tower. If you stay high on the ridge you'll find yourself on loose 5.6-5.7 on the upper part of the ridge. Now stay high enough on the ridge just below the crest to be on good rock but not at the very top of the ridge or the climbing is tougher and goes up and down. Too low on the ridge and you're on loose class 3 that's hard to protect - definitely R rated if you stay off route. Once you can get on the snow traverse back to the North side and travel across flat glacier to the summit block. The last 100 feet can be climbed on the West Face (YDS 5.4 but mostly class 3) of the summit block or the North Face (5.4). Rapping the North face requires a 60 meter rope or two rappels. I recommend rappelling the West Face with a single 50 meter rappel and down climbing the remaining class 3.

This would be a classic route if the rock quality was consistently good. It's a challenging route especially for the grade due to the route finding. This is a rarely climbed route.

Descent: Recommended is to descend the standard Blue Glacier Route via Crystal Pass. This has crevasse hazards. If you decide to bail or descend via the West Ridge you'll want rap gear and to down climb much of it.

Approach

The usual approach is the same as the standard Blue Glacier Route:

Begin at the Hoh River Ranger Station (573 elevation) where you'll get your camping and climbing permits during business hours. It's $8 per night per person for back country camping as of 2018 and many of the camps have services. You'll be required to carry a bear canister if you don't stay in a camp with a bear line unless you camp at Snow Dome or elsewhere on the glacier.

Follow the trail 17.5 miles to Glacier Meadows.There's running water every 30 minutes to an hour. There's options for lower camps on the way. I recommend Lewis Meadows (1,000) for it's location 11 miles in, it's services (bear line & privy) and the great camp spots along the river. There's also a group site in the meadow.

Just before Glacier Meadows there's a maintained short  rope ladder. This will barely slow the average climber but backpackers with huge packs will tell you stories about how horrible of an experience it is and how it's in "horrible shape". Ignore them.

When you arrive at Glacier Meadows (4,300) you'll have access to privy, bear line and there's two emergency shelters to be used only for an emergency with two bunks each and space for another on the ground.

From Glacier Meadows follow the sign about a mile to the Lateral Moraine to a 100 meter rope used to desend the scree down onto the glacier. You can choose to follow cairns farther to steep scree but I suggest the rope. Prusik only if you're uncomfortable on easy roped walking. You'll likely know rocks below so be aware of other climbers. If you'd rather have an extra mile of glacier travel you can choose to access the Terminal Moraine via the marked trail. This will be more time consuming and can have major crevasses.

Once you gain Blue Glacier Snow Dome (6,700) is 2 more miles of moderate glacier travel but there's big crevasses if you get off route at the base of Snow Dome. The Lower Blue Glacier is easiest to navigate if you don't cross it until 5,200 elevation but most parties choose to cross lower with more crevasses.

If you'd like a shorter summit day there's flat spots on Snow Dome (6,700). Keep in mind you're on the Blue Glacier so use caution when selecting your site. There's running water just downhill (East).  A high camp at Snow Dome is highly recommended for the West Ridge Route to make a shorter summit day. If starting from Glacier Meadows you'll want a very early start.

Protection

Rock Pro:

Single rated dry core rock rope. Minimum 50 meters rope length. Gear to 2": Long slings will be your bread and butter for pro & for anchors. Medium offset nuts 1/3" to 1" & medium Tricams to 2" will come in useful. Leave the cams at home if you're comfortable on moderate terrain with passive pro & terrain belays. Be wary of loose rock. Rappel gear for bailing or if downclimbing the route.

Glacier Travel:

Snow pickets and glacier rescue gear.

Photos