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North Ridge 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Ray Van Aken & Art Lembeck, 1952
Page Views: 26,227
Submitted By: M. Morley on May 25, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (66)
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the notch

Access limited from May to October every year MORE INFO >>>


It's been quite some time since I climbed this route, so hopefully others will add details...

Mostly 4th class climbing with a couple sections of up to 5.4. A fun, easy, and accessible peak for the aspiring alpinist.

Descend to the SW down loose talus.


From Whitney Portal (7,900'), follow the Meysan Lakes drainage (marked trail) SSW towards Little/Lower Meysan Lake (~10,000'). Lone Pine Peak will be visible to the SE.


Alpine rack.

Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: North Ridge, Lone Pine Peak
North Ridge, Lone Pine Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: North Ridge, Lone Pine Peak
North Ridge, Lone Pine Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: Caroline Schaumann after the short approach to Lon...
Caroline Schaumann after the short approach to Lon...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking back down toward the owens valley
BETA PHOTO: looking back down toward the owens valley
Rock Climbing Photo: start/end of approach ramp noted
BETA PHOTO: start/end of approach ramp noted
Rock Climbing Photo: David on tower 2 approaching the hand jams corner ...
BETA PHOTO: David on tower 2 approaching the hand jams corner ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Caroline Schaumann on the North Ridge, Lone Pine P...
Caroline Schaumann on the North Ridge, Lone Pine P...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lone Pine Peak's North Ridge
Lone Pine Peak's North Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: the long ridgeline
the long ridgeline
Rock Climbing Photo: Gearing up for a winter ascent of the complete NRL...
Gearing up for a winter ascent of the complete NRL...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lisa Pritchett and Dave Burda getting an early sta...
Lisa Pritchett and Dave Burda getting an early sta...
Rock Climbing Photo: early season ice
early season ice
Rock Climbing Photo: chossy downclimb into the notch
chossy downclimb into the notch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down to the Owens Valley
looking down to the Owens Valley
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike heading for the ridgeline proper
Mike heading for the ridgeline proper
Rock Climbing Photo: many towers left to go
many towers left to go
Rock Climbing Photo: Knife edge somewhere on the N Ridge
Knife edge somewhere on the N Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: view to the west
view to the west
Rock Climbing Photo: Miguel starting up the ridge
Miguel starting up the ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: meysan lakes
meysan lakes
Rock Climbing Photo: Winter ascent of the complete NRLPP
Winter ascent of the complete NRLPP
Rock Climbing Photo: the great leaning flake
BETA PHOTO: the great leaning flake
Rock Climbing Photo: fixed pins mark the start of the crux
BETA PHOTO: fixed pins mark the start of the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: final slabs to the summit
final slabs to the summit

Show All 65 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 3, 2017
By PumpkinEater
From: Sacramento
May 21, 2009

It doesn't seem necessary to add to the vast route beta available in guide books but I will say that there is no more than 1 pitch of 5th class that starts out of a large notch 2/3 up the route. The crux is a brief two or three move layback corner before the climbing eases off to 3rd-4th class. The scenery is stunning.
By Cory Harelson
From: Boise, ID
Jul 24, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Did this route today. Very fun climb, although it's mostly class 3/4. I love ridge climbs, the location you are in when climbing them is just so cool!

From other people's beta it seems there are 3 fifth class sections, but I could see how you would say only one, as they are all very easy. The first section of 5th class is right after the initial notch (down and left) and consists of a fairly low angle crack in a corner that is very secure (Some might call this 4th, felt low/mid fifth to me though). The "crux" is a short lieback crack, and it's no more than 5.5. There are numerous positive knobs on the face, which makes the lieback moves pretty easy. Just after the lieback there is an offwidth to the right that is described as 5.7 in the Secor book. I usually take the Dolphine at JTree as a benchmark for 5.7 OW and this was nowhere near as difficult as that. I think it was more like 5.3, as it was short, there were numerous features, and you could reach deep to get a solid handjam. Also, there are lots of variations possible, so it may be possible to make this climb harder or easier. There were definitely ways to avoid the offwidth.

On the descent make sure you pick the right gully. I picked the wrong one (I believe I descended too soon) and it started out as scree hell and then cliffed out. I spent a bunch of time figuring out a way to downclimb the cliffouts past other people's rap anchors since I didn't have a rope. The whole time storm clouds were building which made for an exciting end to the day! Supposedly if you go the right way it's just class 2 scree (no cliffs) the whole way down.
By Tom Fralich
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 24, 2011

This route is presented by Croft as something to do when "the altitude is bugging you or you're too tired or hung over..." I completely disagree. We stayed almost entirely on the crest and there were many sections of 5th class climbing. The descent is also not straightforward. We met another party on their way out who had to bivy at 2AM due to problems finding the descent. This route is a big day, even if you short-cut around some of the towers.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Jul 31, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

21 hours on the move. This is a complex ridge, and much of the fun and adventure is not being able to see what's around the next corner and not really knowing where the hell you are. The going is reasonably easy if you're smart about your route choices. You can pretty easily keep it interesting and under 5.6 for pretty much the entire route if you're careful. Still, there's plenty of trip reports out there from people with experience who ended up having an epic on this ridge. YMMV.

I have posted a trip report with some decent info on finding the correct descent here, though you should definitely accept that there is no beta out there for this route that will serve you as well as (or substitute for) good judgement.
By mark felber
From: Wheat Ridge, CO
May 3, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

I followed cairns and a faint user trail down to the SW gully from the true summit, no route finding issues. If you start straight down after finishing the 5th class stuff then things might be different.
By Anouk Erni
From: Portland, OR
Oct 11, 2013

We read up on the beta so we wouldn't have route finding issues, and it worked. Started on the trail at 6am. We did the common start traversing from the trail at about 8600 ft and climbing the loose rock to gain the ridge at 8:45am. Mostly 3rd and 4th class (like others have said, you can make it easy or hard pretty much the entire ridge). We stuck to the east of the ridge at the 3rd tower to avoid a rappel or crazy down climb. When we got to the headwall we had a difficult time finding the start of the climb. There's a really exposed area to the west of the ridge and so we stuck to the east side, and started climb very close to the notch itself. It was probably a 5.9 move at the start - definitely not on route! But as soon as we got past that move it all became easy 5th to the summit. Last half pitch before the summit is super fun, winding up past boulders and blocks. Got to the summit at 4pm. It was crazy windy so we signed the register and got the hell off the mountain. Going down the loose talus/moraine sucked and probably was the worst I've experienced to date. It started snowing on us as soon as we got back on the trail. Got down to the car at 8pm. 14 hour day, not too bad considering it was my first day ascent of a sierra peak.
By Ryan Bracci
From: San Juan Capistrano, CA
Jul 14, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Please be careful when descending down the southwest chute. There is something sizeable melting out on the upper sections of the right side of the chute (when looking up from below-or on the left when coming down) near the top of the plateau. Stay right and be aware of falling rock. I've heard reports of from others that this has been going on for weeks. We were there as of 7/12/14 and saw several small rockfalls on the descent along with one large one when we exiting the chute.
By Phil Esra
Sep 22, 2014

Because of the altitude, I did this route with a hangover-equivalent (headache and eventual nausea). I can definitively say that Croft is incorrect about it being a fun thing to do with a hangover. Instead I suggest staying in bed and nursing a beer. Play it by ear--maybe go outside and play fetch with your dog in the afternoon if you're feeling up to it by that point.

This ended up feeling like a pretty serious undertaking. My wife and I took 18 hours car to car, with some routefinding snafus that ate up time. (As a reference point, Steck-Salathe took us 25 hours, and I've done Half Dome in a day.) I'm pretty sure it was the FA for the exact path we took, but I can't recommend it.

Based on the topographic map in the Croft book and on the signs of travel, I *believe* we started the descent in the right place (if not, there is a key cairn near the top that is EVIL). Following what appeared to be the most traveled path, we ended up in a nasty scree chute with a cliff at the bottom. Dunno, it's a mystery.

There's a huge amount of ground to cover--up and down, and the length of the ridge too. If you're not really comfortable soloing exposed 4th class (which generally means anything under 5.4), you're going to have a long day and/or get pretty sketched out.

A type-II fun day that I'd like to try again some time with more acclimation and maybe a partner who knows the descent.

EDIT: I am quoting from Chris D's linked TR above--this quote mirrors my experience exactly (I started calling every move, every feature, a 5.5 lieback):

'We saw a stuck nut and an old hex, but nary a piton, nor any sort of "lieback" section, though we did a couple of unnecessary liebacks and mantles just for good measure. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure we missed a good bit of what would be the "regular" route up the ridge, but we never got far below it. Also, don't be frustrated by references to "The Notch" as this refers to any one of a dozen or so notches and you'll rarely be sure of which one is being discussed anyway.'

Also quoted from the same TR, a description of the descent we used: 'One of these has a lot of foot-traffic going down it, but it's a sucker chute.'
By Flavaflav
From: Las Vegas, NV
Jun 22, 2016

Attempted this weekend, snow remains in big flake tunnel thing. eventually we bailed against my better judgement to finish the route as a safer alternative. Ended at a pinnacle before the third tower after the big "flakes" on the left. We went right instead, traversing into a stiff short right leaning corner then easier ground. We made it down with a single 60m. 15 rappels starting with a low angle slab and down a varnished dihedral. Lots of scrambling, a nice reminder of the commitment of ridge climbing.
By Eduardo Ribeiro
From: Los Gatos, California
Sep 6, 2016

I used super topo beta and had a good experience route finding.I parked at the overflow parking a little bit higher from the campground. It took me 9 hours car to car solo: 2hr approach, 3.5hr route and 3.5hr descent.

Leaving the main trail and crossing the stream was the hardest trail finding bit. I left the meysan lakes trail around 9400ft and followed a social trail backcountry. I bushwhacked a bit before the creek. Continued towards a tree ramp and went lower and around the green rock to reach the approach gully. I wonder if there is a more direct way through the green rock.

After getting to the main gully it was all straightforward, trying to stay on the ridge as much as possible.

I thought the most technical bits were after notch C towards the summit, where I choose to go straight up. I assume you could go around, but I just wanted to get to the summit at that point. Super topo said it was 3 pitches from Notch C to the summit, but I think there are more than that... who knows, maybe I was tired.

The descent gully had a ton of cairns. I dropped to the north side of the ridge a little earlier but cairns took me to the right descent spot. It's pretty obvious once you see. The scree surf was painful, as usual.
By Mike Esparza
From: Westminster, CA
Jul 24, 2017

We did this car to car in 20 friggin hours on 7/4/2017. It was a long exhausting day! The climbing is mellow and fun. We definitely go off route in some 5.8 territory but good gear everywhere. The climbing is easy... It is just a long endurance day. Be prepared to go all day if you are the average human.
By richcobb
From: Los Osos, CA
Sep 3, 2017

Soloed this 8-26-2017. A great adventure climb. We also got off route into much harder than 5.5 territory. This happened because we were trying to follow the Supertopo beta more than just trusting our instincts. Supertopo isn't *wrong* here, but the same thing happened to a party we passed and we found lots of sign that others before us had made the same mistake.

RE beta for this route -- in our experience -- I would encourage you to trust your instincts. If it looks hard (steep, sustained, & >5.6) then it probably is, you're looking at a harder variation, and you're a little mixed up as to where you are relative to the supertopo description

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