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Direct Petzoldt Ridge 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Willi Unsoeld, LaRee Muns, James Shirley, Rodney Shirley, Austin Flint
Season: mid-late summer
Page Views: 26,500
Submitted By: Nick Stayner on Mar 8, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (64)
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A climber on the Petzoldt Ridge, with the Teepee P...


This route is a classic in almost every sense. Certainly one of the most memorable. If it's combined with the Upper Exum Ridge, it provides for an extremely enjoyable day in the mountains.
The crux is a well-protected (pins?) slot/roof on great holds. "The Window" pitch is perhaps one of the most memorable anywhere! The route seems to stay a bit on the right side of a ridge.

Climbers should be aware that the route does not top out on the summit. A 50' rappel must be done off the summit of the ridge. From there, one can continue up the Stettner Couloir/snowfields. The preferred alternative is to traverse upwards on a ledge to the Upper Exum Ridge. Either get an early start or solo/simul the Upper Exum if you choose this classic option!


The route is on the next ridge right of the Exum. Follow the Black Dike "trail" to the base. Start slightly on the right side of the ridge.


A Teton rack up to to 2" will cover you fine. You may need an ice axe in early-to-mid season.

Photos of Direct Petzoldt Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Petzoldt Direct will always be a very special clim...
Petzoldt Direct will always be a very special clim...
Rock Climbing Photo: 1978
Rock Climbing Photo: Kelby Fisher on one of the most classic pitches an...
Kelby Fisher on one of the most classic pitches an...
Rock Climbing Photo: The glorious summit!
The glorious summit!
Rock Climbing Photo: behold!
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying beauty
Belaying beauty
Rock Climbing Photo: Bad ass belayer
Bad ass belayer
Rock Climbing Photo: Hangin out on a very cold morning on the Direct Pe...
Hangin out on a very cold morning on the Direct Pe...
Rock Climbing Photo: From the summit (via Petzoldt to Upper Exum)
From the summit (via Petzoldt to Upper Exum)
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up the Petzoldt direct.
Starting up the Petzoldt direct.
Rock Climbing Photo: Who could resist some Nutella at the top?!
Who could resist some Nutella at the top?!
Rock Climbing Photo: a couple of guys on the Petzoldt Ridge, taken from...
a couple of guys on the Petzoldt Ridge, taken from...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of pitch 6
Start of pitch 6
Rock Climbing Photo: following the 5th pitch
following the 5th pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: rest break
rest break
Rock Climbing Photo: The Window Pitch.
The Window Pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Two climbers on the Petzoldt
Two climbers on the Petzoldt
Rock Climbing Photo: Topo I drew. Not great quality, but hopefully help...
BETA PHOTO: Topo I drew. Not great quality, but hopefully help...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking across the valley from near the top of the...
Looking across the valley from near the top of the...
Rock Climbing Photo: The action! (from August 2012)
The action! (from August 2012)
Rock Climbing Photo: Working from the Petzoldt ridge to the summit.
Working from the Petzoldt ridge to the summit.
Rock Climbing Photo: Prime real estate!
Prime real estate!

Comments on Direct Petzoldt Ridge Add Comment
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By Buff Johnson
Mar 9, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I used pro to 3" along with a bomber hex. Additional good things about this route (aside from incredible rock-climbing quality): it gets shielded from high winds by the Exum & doesn't have the amount of traffic that the Exum does.

Ice can build up in the transition to the Exum. There is also a rappel escape down through the Stettner Couloir established by ski mountaineers (falling rock is a big concern in this descent). 5.6 for the most part, 5.7 pitch is really good; also a 5.9 slot variant.
By Trevor Nydam
Jul 5, 2006

Recommend starting around and up the Stettner Couloir a bit to save time and avoiding some chossy moves. The first chimney is great fun. The short overhanging traverse out and up is all there and has great exposure. Shaded until noon. Excellent alternative to the lower Exum. Easy solo north to the upper Exum after the rap(7/3/06).
By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Aug 26, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Fun route, and less crowded than the full Exum. I personally liked the climbing on the Lower Exum better, but the climbing is still great on the Petzoltd.

We soloed 4th class to the base of the first pitch - but the path of least resistance wasn't trivial to find in the dark. It started a bit up and right from the base of the ridge. A tricky step up and left led to a easy ramp and then lower angled climbing. The first pitch slot is quite obvious once below it.

If I did the route again, I'd try do it in four long pitches as follows.

P1 - Up the slot, chimney (crux), and then lower angled terrain to a small ledge right below on obvious roof.

P2 - Out the roof, around another one to the left (BIG exposure) and then up and right on lower angled terrain. I'd belay below the "Window" somewhere, but close to it if possible.

P3 - Out the window, and then to a big ledge. Continue up the easy face and then the famous knife edge (and tricky step down to belay ledge)

P4 - Up the left facing corner for about 75 feet, and just as the corner turns chossy - a convenient juggy notch allows a transition to the lower angled ridge proper. Continue up this all the way to the top of the ridge.

The rappel anchors are located down from the top of the ridge a bit. Make sure to rappel somewhat EAST to the obvious ledge only 50 feet below. If you rappel to the North you'd find yourself uncomfortably in space in no time!

Very easy climbing (3rd and 4th class) leads up the broken corner (slightly left trending) to the Upper Exum, right below the wind tunnel.

The entire route took us 7 hours, but we soloed the Upper Exum. We climbed the Petzoltd efficiently, but not terribly fast.

Rack - One set of nuts, one set of cams from TCUs to #3 camalot. A big hex was handy. Lots of long slings of course.
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Dec 5, 2007

I thought the Petzoldt Ridge was a great route and a worthy objective on the Grand. We simul-climbed the Petzoldt in one block and it seemed like a great thing to do for a competent party of two. Most of it is pretty casual with short cruxes, allowing a simul-climbing team to make quick work of the route. For us, it made perfect sense to simul the route because we were doing it in a day from the trailhead and we didn't get much of an early start.
By Tradiban
Aug 16, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is classic. Less traffic, less wind with good exposure. Definitely summit via Upper E for the glory.
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Sep 7, 2010

Fun route. With all due respect to Andy's goals of doing this climb in 4 pitches, I personally do not think it would be the ideal way to link this climb, as the rope drag and communication issues would be awful. 7 seemed ideal for us. The traverse around the roof on pitch 2 was the best move of the climb. The knife-edge is a little overrated in my opinion. Not as good as Exum, but still a worthwhile climb.
By Christian West
Oct 13, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I did this with my Dad who is 64 years old. We went with our long time friend and guide of 11 years. We did Irene's Arete the first day, went to bed at 5 pm, got up at 3 am and did the direct pezholdt and then upper exum and got down to the car around 8 pm. Was a long couple days and I was exhausted but it was so worth it! All the climbing for the most part was oustanding.
By Kevin Bradford
Sep 22, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I did this route recently and thought it was very fun. We went car to car, it was 15 hrs total. We climbed the petzoldt in 4 pitches, exactly as Andy described above, then finished on the upper exum. I was happy to have rock shoes on the first two pitches, though a nice pair of hybrid approach shoes would have been fine. I thought that a single rack to #2 camalot was ok, and some tcu's were very handy. I brought a big hex and didn't really need it.
By Andrew Mayer
From: Driggs, ID
Aug 10, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Linked it down to 4 pitches (with a 60m) as Andy describes except the top of our P3 was in the notch just before the knife-edge. This allowed the belayer to see the leader for most of P4 which was nice. Great route!
By HollyPres
Aug 18, 2015

The first comment here mentions the Stettner as a possible descent - DO NOT use this descent route in the summer. In the winter I'm sure it's fine, but in the summer it's a gnarly place full of waterfall after waterfall and is not safe to descend.

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