Direct East Ridge
5.8+ Mod. Snow
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Climbing moderate snow slopes up towards the first...
The Direct East Ridge is the route immortalized in Steck & Roper's "Fifty Classic Climbs of North America". Though an excellent climb, the route is anything but 'direct', as it replaces a few hundred yards of steep snow with half a day of rock climbing. The route gains the East Ridge at the lowest point at which its steep rock buttresses first protrude through the surrounding snow slopes, rather than climbing steep snow on the SE face to gain the ridge higher up.
There is some confusion over the origin of the route, as Steck & Roper's epic tome suggest that the British Columbia Mountaineering Club party that pioneered the line were inadvertently off-route (supposedly intending to re-trace Beckey's line of ascent). According to the legend, the trio assumed that Beckey had climbed the East Ridge in its entirety, including the two steep rock buttresses at its base. However, another account states that the party intentionally avoided Beckey's line because they found the snow conditions on the Hog's Back to be unsafe.
In either case, the resultant route is a masterpiece of enjoyable rock climbing in a wild, alpine setting. The "Direct" is no more difficult than the original line, as all the cruxes are on the upper part of the route, but it does increase the length of the climb substantially.
The route ascends the prominent East Ridge of Devil's Thumb. From the basin to the Southeast of the Thumb, ascend steepening snow slopes toward the Thumb. Find a path through the bergschrund on its far right (east) end. Continue up intermittent snow patches to the base of the the First Rock Buttress.
Don your rock shoes and climb good quality 5.6ish granite along the ridge. The rock here is good, but there are loose sections, so beware. Ascend easily to the top of the first buttress, then make a short descent to the west to the base of the second, more difficult buttress.
Make an ascending, left-ward traverse on steep rock, avoiding the daunting overhangs on the crest, to a good ledge up & left. From here, ascend more or less straight up on gradually easing terrain to the top of the second buttress. Traverse the summit, then rappel down the west side to a snow patch. Traverse west over the snow, passing below a small tower on the ridge. On the far side of this tower, ascend a steep slab to rejoin the ridgecrest. Continue along the ridge crest towards the gendarme. From this point, follow the East Ridge route to the summit.
Full alpine kit. Rock shoes are an asset in dry conditions. Rock pro is mandatory. Bring materials to build rappel anchors.
Marc following the first pitch on the Second Rock ...
Preparing a rap anchor from the summit of the 2nd ...
The Direct East Ridge adds the two rock buttresses...