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Ripsaw/Northeast Ridge 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 1300', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Richard Rossiter and Joan Johns
New Route: Yes
Season: July to September
Page Views: 3,907
Submitted By: Richard Rossiter on Aug 16, 2008

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This photo shows the entire northeast ridge as see...

Seasonal Closures MORE INFO >>>


This route ascends the complete northeast ridge from the shoulder above Solitude Lake to the summit of Arrowhead and is joined by the last several hundred feet of the old East Face route. It is reminiscent of the CMC Route on Mount Moran, but is 4 thousand feet shorter and 4 grades harder. Expect some snow on the approach and descent until July.

P1. Climb a beautiful slab and belay up and right on a good ledge with a poor anchor (8, 180 feet) or go 15 feet higher and belay at a poor stance with a good anchor.

P2. Work up and left to a big sloping ledge beneath a steep wall with a conspicuous finger crack (4, 70 feet).

P3. Climb the excellent finger crack to a sort of notch, then go straight up to the top of the pinnacle (First Tower) and belay (10a, 150 feet).

P4. Downclimb 50 feet from the west side of the ledge into a notch (class 4, could belay), then climb 60 feet to a ledge at the base of a perfect hand crack (7, 110 feet).

P5. Climb the hand crack to a step in the ridge, then climb a finger crack to another pinnacle (8, 120 feet).

P6. Scramble to the top of a final pinnacle and rappel 80 feet to a big notch in the northeast ridge. One can escape the ridge at this point by descending a steep gully to the southeast (East Gully, Class 4).

P7. Scramble through some blocky terrain and belay where the angle increases, even with Ledge 1 (Class 4, 180 feet).

P8. Climb the exposed arete on the left to where the angle eases and belay (6, 200 feet). Scramble west quite a long way (staying right of the crest) to the true summit of Arrowhead.

Descend the South Ramp.


Approach: Hike the Solitude Lake Trail to Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake and hike talus to a high point on the shoulder of the northeast ridge. Consider roping up here.


Bring stoppers and cams up 3 inches and slings for the odd this and that.

Photos of Ripsaw/Northeast Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the trail at Solitude Lake.
The view from the trail at Solitude Lake.
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Wellborn topping out on P3. The ensuing ledge...
Erik Wellborn topping out on P3. The ensuing ledge...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch one.  Wide open terrain.  Excellent rock.
Pitch one. Wide open terrain. Excellent rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pebby at the top of the hand crack, pitch 5.
Pebby at the top of the hand crack, pitch 5.
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Wellborn on the final pitch (5.6) and wildly ...
Erik Wellborn on the final pitch (5.6) and wildly ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View down the great hand crack on pitch 5.
View down the great hand crack on pitch 5.
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the awesome finger crack on pitch 3.
This is the awesome finger crack on pitch 3.

Comments on Ripsaw/Northeast Ridge Add Comment
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By Pebby Johns
From: Boulder, Colorado
Aug 16, 2008

I must say that the crack lover climber in me found the crack on pitch #5 to be worth all the blood and sweat put out on the approach. It was just over too soon. The exposure on this climb was exhilarating. The weather was on our side, and it was a dream come true.
Thank you, Richard for your superb guidance and encouragement as always,
By bert honea
Aug 3, 2009

Climbed this route July 31. Highly recommend this as a fun alpine outing. Good rock, great position and beautiful views. With a 70 meter rope, the route can be done in 4 1/2 pitches. Don't miss the final arete pitch - easy and wonderful.
Recommend leaving packs at base of Solitude trail and returning via Black Lake. We left ours at Solitude and took a while circumnavigating Arrowhead. Make sure you drop all the way down to top of approach gully from Black Lake before heading east across talus. We spent lots of time getting cliffed. Lots of other route possibilities in the vicinity. Thanks, Richard - good find.
By xxxxxxx
Aug 28, 2010

Fun climbing, beautiful views, and a good summit make this route worth the hike up to Shelf Lake.
By Shane Zentner
From: Colorado
Aug 23, 2011

Descending the north face is tricky and dangerous due to the many cliffs and slabs that are present, especially during an afternoon thunderstorm. To descend the north face, look for a series of cairns NW of the true summit. These will eventually take you to a break in the cliffs and into a gulley system. Look for rap anchors in the gully, however, these are difficult to find(we got lucky). Perhaps a better descent alternative is to take the south ramp exit.

That said, The NE Ridge is a great climb with tremendous exposure on both sides. The rap anchor on the sixth pitch should be backed up if possible due to the nature of the anchor(this was scary). The third pitch is amazing. Ripsaw is well worth the hike in, although we never found the Solitude Lake trail until we hiked down it in daylight.

Much appreciated, Richard. This is a true alpine experience.
By Ben Collett
Sep 3, 2011

This makes a great start to the Shelf Cirque Traverse.
By Greg Sievers
From: Bozeman, MT
Aug 27, 2012

I agree with all the comments that this is a really fun route. Reasonably easy climbing which makes for a fast ascent. The steps/ledges/gendarmes from the top of P3 to the top of P5 go quickly, but I didn't realize that there was such a large horizontal factor to it. Lots of easy bouldering to get over to the 5.7 hand crack.
1. Pitches 1 & 2 can be combined.
2. Pitches 4 & 5 can be combined.
3. The rap slings for the 80' drop into the notch will need to be replaced following 2012.
4. The 7th 'pitch' is real 4th class, like Canadian style. We climbed it unroped, but it is rather serious terrain.

Kudos, Richard.
By T Bauck
Aug 24, 2015

Good climb. You will not have to fight the crowds on this one.

On the 3rd pitch, about 25' up, you can traverse left 6' into another crack. This keeps this pitch about 5.8+.
By doug haller
From: Boulder, Colorado
Aug 24, 2015

What to know before you go:
There's probably 3 pitches of belayed climbing, P1-2, P3, and P4-5.
Plan on a good 30 minutes from the end of the route to the rap station, assuming you can find it.
To find the rap (the one we used), look beneath any of several rocks that jut out over the lip of the ridge between Arrowhead and McHenry's. Start looking uphill (east) of the low point.
Good luck!

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