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Dragontail Peak
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Backbone Ridge T 
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Backbone Ridge 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 2000', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: weigelt+bonnerville aug 1970 with fin Cruver+Lewis Jul 1975
Season: Summer
Page Views: 13,429
Submitted By: Pax on Dec 2, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (39)
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Shirley following one of the Fin pitches high on B...


Long route with some great climbing and some complex route finding.


On the north face of Dragontail peak. To climber's left of Serpentine Ridge.


A #5 camalot is required for the offwidth. Other than that, a medium rack to #3.5 camalot outta do it.

Photos of Backbone Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Lance leading out on the 2nd half of The Fin.
Lance leading out on the 2nd half of The Fin.
Shirley on the Fin high on Backbone Ridge (July 20...
Shirley on the Fin high on Backbone Ridge (July 20...
Heading down from the summit
Heading down from the summit
Looking down the crux corner
Looking down the crux corner
Topped out on the right of the fin
Topped out on the right of the fin
The route
BETA PHOTO: The route
looking down the fin at the same spot
BETA PHOTO: looking down the fin at the same spot
Overlay by telemarker on Cascade Climbers.  Red is...
BETA PHOTO: Overlay by telemarker on Cascade Climbers. Red is...
heading across the fin
heading across the fin
You can't beat the views from belays.
You can't beat the views from belays.

Comments on Backbone Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 14, 2015
By Peter Franzen
From: Phoenix, AZ
Dec 3, 2007

I'll second that comment. A 12 pitch climb like this really deserves to be fleshed out some more.
By Pete Hickman
From: Tacoma, WA
Apr 16, 2008

Any idea what kind of snow conditions we might be looking at in the last week of May this year? Route doable?
By mark kerns
From: denver, co
Jul 21, 2008

Notes -
There is a lot of 4th class climbing. you will gain a lot of vertical quickly in this 4th class section. be efficient on the 4th class ground to give yourself enough time when the going is more technical.

we went light on cams for our rack, taking tricams, hexes and stoppers for weight savings. looking back, i would take a more standard cams based rack.

amazing exposure on the top "fin" pitches. great climbing. four stars.

This one can be done as a long day climb from the parking lot. it's burly but can be done. i think we did it in about 18 hours round trip. i slept good that night....
By Keenan Waeschle
From: Bozeman, MT
May 14, 2010

how scary is the offwidth without a #5? is it secure enough to (basically) rope solo? I don't climb many offwidths but I'm trying to get my skills up. I don't want to spend a ton of money on a piece of gear I'll only use once.
By Matteo Fiori
From: Mariposa, CA
Aug 30, 2010

We had trouble finding the 5.6 initial corner that leads to the crux dihedral and instead went up a 5.7 obvious open book for two full pitches (with lots of mossy gardens) that bypassed the crux and ensuing 5.7/5.8 cracks. The open book is to the left of the shorter corner and a good way to gain the ridge for those less interested in battling the 5.9 OW.
By Daniel Coltrane
From: Seattle, WA
Aug 16, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I brought a #5 & #6 for the offwideth and was glad to have both. I Don't like 30 foot runouts on offwidth 5.9. Lots of loose rock on the route.
By max huecksteadt
From: Hanoi Vietnam
Jul 27, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

First alpine rock route...trial by fire with a grade IV+! Glad to have a #5 and #6 for the offwidth but you can stem if you have poor technique (I did after my knee got stuck...!). Route finding isn't too tough, it seems most pitches will go at the same rating on-route or off (most not all!)...on the Fin follow the obvious weaknesses and you can solo past the first (huge) gendarme on the backside. Car to car makes a long day...
By SirTobyThe3rd
Aug 19, 2012

Bring a #6 and you will be much happier and safer unless you are a OW guru. I did not have a #6 and did not feel safe trying to push my single tipping out #5 up (which was basically useless and would not take any kind of fall higher up). Cool route, lots of choss.
By clint helander
From: anchorage, alaska
Jan 27, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

you can sling a few chockstones in the offwidth. Then you get up on toward the top and there's good finger sized pro if i recall correctly.

A stellar route with incredible views. one of my favs.
By geoff georges
From: Seattle, Wa.
Sep 17, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

classic 5.9 alpine rock route. #6 Camalot for sure if you want to protect the OW. It starts out as wide hands, at least 30-40' of wide, with 1-2 chockstones mid way, and good smaller cracks above.
By Eric Whittaker
Jul 23, 2014

I understand that there are some bivy sites just below the fin. Is that true? Can anyone give me some info on them... are they secure? Do you need to stay roped in? We were thinking of doing a late afternoon start on the route, and "enjoying" an evening on the mountain.
By Whippin
From: Bend, OR
Aug 18, 2014

Really wished I had brought either a #6 or a big bro in addition to the #5 for the offwidth.
By Jere
From: Colorado
Aug 18, 2014

This route is now an all time favorite! Check out this trip report from late July 2014.

Backbone Ridge Route Trip Report

By fourteenfour
From: PNW // PWM // SLC
Sep 7, 2014

It's been said before but worth mentioning: Take a #6 & #4 for the OW. Leave the #5 at home.
By Rafe
Sep 8, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I'd suggest to anyone wondering that they should bring a #6. I did it a couple of days ago without one and it was spicy. The OW isn't super hard, but if you leave your #5 in a decent placement below and cast off you're way out from it by the time you get to another piece. If for some reason you blew it and came out you'd take a really nasty fall. 5.9 R/X without a #6 for sure.

Classic route, but lots of choss and shitty climbing too. The Fin is a solid and super fun feature. Other than that, and the OW pitch the route is pretty crappy as far as rock quality goes. Adventurous alpine climb though! Would recommend to anyone interested in such things though.
By Nick Drake
Sep 14, 2015

It's a big day c2c, don't skimp on weight for your headlamp. Really fun route with what seem like endless variations. Spot the offwidth early on your approach in the scree (class 4 ramps go higher than you think), it's worth your time. I am not sure what all the fuss about the offwidth is from, it's secure with great feet, and only one very short and steep bump. Don't be bypass it, this is a really fun pitch.

We trended mostly left from here, starting by going far left of the roof above the offwidth. A few 5.8 moves here or there, but generally easy climbing.

On the fin there are so many options, if it sounds like the beta you are getting disagrees than the parties likely took different lines. If you get suckered in to the many crack systems trending straight up it will top you out on the fin early, going over the fin there will put you in the top of the triple couloirs bowling alley.

We followed Nelson's Selected Climbs, to do this just stay low at the start trending right. The undercling he describes high on the fin looks intimidating from below, but it has great gear (BD #1-3) and the feet you need are clean (thick black lichen in this area). This leads up left to the top of the fin, traverse across it and take a wide ramp back down on the north side. The next gully over will lead you to the south of dragontail in class 2 terrain, no shenanigans required.
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