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Organ Needle
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Northwest Ridge T 
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Northwest Ridge 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 550'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: P. Rogowski and others
Page Views: 771
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Nov 2, 2008

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BETA PHOTO: The first pitch headwall. The route stays on the r...


This route is deceptively straightforward. One pitch of steep climbing followed by two rope-lengths of 3rd class scrambling. At first glance, the steep NW ridge head-wall does not look protectable, is fairly steep and is smattered with lichens, making all the holds invisible. This taken together with the Ingraham guide description of "steep, narrow, rather holdless, unprovided with piton cracks, and not altogether solid in its first half" made me rethink attempting the route when we reached the saddle. If getting an authentic mountaineer's thrill is what you're after, read no further, just tackle the route head-on.

For all others, be reassured that the route does indeed follow the far right hand arete of the NW ridge. The start has the most committing moves, up some un-protected face climbing just left of the arete. Once the arete is reached though, the moves get easier, and the position is superb. The drop off on the west side of the arete is straight down for 200+ feet. The first pitch ends at a nice shoulder just beneath the top of the ridge.

The rest of the route is a 3rd class scramble along the ridge.


This route is best approached from the West following the approach for Normal Routeup until the Dark Canyon. Instead of going up the dark canyon, head left up a gully towards two large pines that are situated under a steep face. Once the pines are reached, traverse left staying along the base of the rocks. Keep traversing until you reach an easy slab which can be scrambled up all the way to the saddle between Organ needle and Little Square Top. The approach requires some 3rd class scrambling.

Descent can be made by the Normal Route trail. It is also possible to reverse this route as a means of getting down to the Little Square Top/Organ Needle Saddle. This requires 3rd class scrambling down to a point at the top of the steep ridge, and then a 35m rappel off some blocks at the top of the ridge. We very carefully accomplished this with a single 60m rope, but two ropes or a 70m would be preferred.


The crux first pitch can be protected with small wires, tricams or small camming units. There is a fixed piton half-way along the second pitch at a low saddle on the ridge. This could be a rappel location for getting down into the steep bowl on the west side of the peak.

Photos of Northwest Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: View of the NW ridge from the approach. This was t...
BETA PHOTO: View of the NW ridge from the approach. This was t...

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