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Chiefshead Northwest Face
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Much Ado About Nothing 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
Season: Late Summer (post-rain/pre-snow)
Page Views: 156
Submitted By: joe lavelle on Jul 10, 2011

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BETA PHOTO: Photo of Chief's Head with Much Ado About Nothing ...

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The route climbs the long ramp system along the right side of the wall. Begin in the left-facing corner directly below a large white spot that is shaped like the profile of a head facing left.

P1: Climb the dihedral to a V, take its right branch and belay on a flake/ledge in the white rock of the "neck" (5.6, 150 feet)...[or just climb up over steep, broken ground that and find a good spot to belay, as we did].

P2: Follow a left-facing flake through the "head" and continue up to a series of ledges (5.7, 150 feet)..[or follow huge broken flakes that provided small left-facing dihedrals on their left side, then finish over some easy ledges and belay at the base of a left-leaning ramp].

P3 & P4: Climb up and left along a ramp and belay near its end (5.5, 300 feet) [or do a simulclimb up the ramp leading up and left angling toward a big dark roof that stretched for more than a pitch as it arched left, and then use the ramp to travel diagonally under the roof which starts out easy, but then steepens].

P5: Climb up along a left-facing flake, then up and right to a grassy ledge that leads off the face (5.8, 100 feet).

P6: Scramble up an left to the rappel route and the high point of the face (but not the peak)...or continue up and right to reach the top of the peak when you can head down one of the hiking/scrambling descent options.


Start early...a 3.5 hours approach (7 miles & 3000 vertical feet of elevation) and a hard escape if the storms beat you to the punch.

Hike up past Black Lake, over the north shoulder of Spearhead, past Frozen Lake and beneath the west face of Spearhead, and then scrambled up a rocky shelf before crawling up the talus to reach the northwest face of Chiefshead. Then, turn west and climb up the ramp to reach the base of the climb.

Descent Options:

(1) Rappel Birds of Prey: Find the rap anchors, if you can (I couldn't).
(2) Hike from summit to Stone Man Pass: a long, long way exposed to the elements.
(3) Scramble down West Ramp: hard to find the start and hard to find your way down, but persistence will pay off. See below:

Step 1: Hike down the much of the NW Ridge to find a likely big gully to descend. It will feel more like a series of steep gullies that will work for 40 feet, then you'll have to find a ledge to traverse to the next gully.

Step 2: Look for a path east back to start of climb. look for a ledge that leads out to the biggest rib. From the top of the rib, you'll be able to see the start of the climb, and the sloping, rubble-covered ramps leading down to it.

Step 3: Scramble down and follow it until the terrain starts to break up; a path to the right will appear. Take it.

Step 4: Keep looking until you find a path through tumble that works.


Standard rack.

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By joe lavelle
Jul 10, 2011

Here is a trip report that provides more background info on climbing and surviving a climb of Chief's Head via Much Ado About Nothing:
Much Ado About Nothing Trip Report.
From: Wherever we park!
Aug 19, 2013

If you love spotty pro, choss, and climbing wet, shitty, loose ledges and cracks full of dirt and grass for the majority of your route, this is the one for you. I'd give it the avoid/bomb for a rating if it wasn't for the fact that the wall itself is stunning and unless you climb significantly harder this is a viable option for those wishing to climb something on Chiefshead.

Be warned, the 5.8 pitch isn't very obvious after the arching ledge pitches and when you climb the crux of the pitch you won't be doing it with gear.

Rapping Birds of Fire is definitely the way to descend.

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