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North East Ridge 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c X

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8000'
Original:  YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c Mod. Snow X [details]
FA: Dick Beach and Steve Rogero, June 13, 1970
Season: May-June
Page Views: 2,486
Submitted By: Scotty on Sep 23, 2007

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The entire ridge (minus the summit and summit plat...



TH to Summit: 8000 feet
Total climbing vertical: 11,000 feet

Round Trip: 25 miles

The Northeast Ridge of Mount Williamson is a Sierra classic--not for the history (which it has--in his twilight years, Norman Clyde claimed that he had made the FA in the 1920s, and Warren Harding made his maniac bones in an epic first winter ascent recounted in Doug Scott's "Big Wall Climbing"), and not for clean, good rock, which it has, at least when it counts, nor for the views, which it boasts in spades. The NE Ridge of Williamson is classic because it may very well be the hardest climb of its grade and type in the country. As RJ Secor says, "This 8,000 foot waterless climb is one hell of a hard climb."

You kick off with a 1-mile cross-country hike which includes fording a nasty little stream. Climb 2000 feet of decomposed granite, dirt, sagebrush, manzanita, juniper and pinon to the ridge itself. Hang a right, and keep going, quickly. Soon you will be on clean desert rock which quickly transitions to alpine rock. Stay as close to the top of the ridge as possible. Ignore the tremendous exposure, and just keep moving. Top off your water bottles on any snow or melt you might find, because you're going to need it. Keep going. Many miles and thousands of feet of elevation later, the ridge fishhooks to the south and then back to the west. Cross the East and West Horns, both 14,000+, and descend the West Horn on its northeastern side until you can cross to the last obstacle before the long slog across a plateau to the summit. Descend by moving to the north, where you will find a 3d class chimney that enters a couloir facing southwest. This is the way down.


More later...


Some folks climb this with no rope, and they move very quickly, since they are 1-day blitzkrieg types. Mortals may want 30 meters of thin cord for raps and for moral support during dicy moves. But be warned, if you try to pitch and belay all the sketch out of this climb, you will need a long term residency permit. Bring along some throw-away webbing for rap anchors, and a head for continuous hours of unprotected exposure.

The descent is the reason that the climb has a snow rating. You will descend the "tourist route" which means glissading or plunging down about 1000 feet of snowy couloir.

Photos of North East Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: summit plateau
summit plateau
Rock Climbing Photo: Somewhere midway up the ridge
Somewhere midway up the ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: More down climbs lower down on the route
More down climbs lower down on the route
Rock Climbing Photo: one of many down climbs on the route.
one of many down climbs on the route.
Rock Climbing Photo: About half of the route, not seen is the  summit h...
About half of the route, not seen is the summit h...

Comments on North East Ridge Add Comment
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By King Tut
From: Citrus Heights
Apr 13, 2017

By Evan Wisheropp
Jun 20, 2017
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c X

In addition to the loads of water and snacks, I brought an ultra light sleeping bag, pad and space blanket and was able to comfortably camp in Williamson bowl without any significant weight addition, maybe two pounds. I'd definitely plan on bivying again, it was nice calling it a day once hitting the bowl.

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