East Ridge Direct
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The direct E. Ridge of Mt. Bancroft is accessed from just above Loch Lomond. The route is a sustained class 4 ridge scramble with a 60' rappel required in the middle, and several places of low 5th class climbing, especially out of the notch you rap into.
There is a harder variation to this route which goes straight up the headwall of the NE buttress. In winter, the climbing on this variation is rather difficult, though low 5th class, due to the snow/ice on all the ledges and the lack of suitable protection. Choose your line of ascent wisely.
Winter conditions gives this route full value. It is mostly a sustained ridge climb up over gendarmes, across knife-edge snow aretes, scrambling over loose rock and a rappel. Do not underestimate the size of this climb! By adding the headwall pitches, it took us 7 hours to climb the route. We had high 40+ mph winds and negative digit wind chill, dropped/lost gloves and not much beta.
While the climbing on the headwall at the beginning wasn't very aestethic, it was challenging and I learned a lot.
This is the East ridge of Mt. Bancroft above Loch Lomond.
I used cams C4 #0.4 - #2, and nuts BD #7 - #12 but most of this gear was too big. I had one piton and used it. Small cams/nuts best, knifeblades would be helpful too.
Gearing up to lead P1.
Beginning the lead on P1.
BETA PHOTO: Look for this sign on Alice Rd. and park here!
Brett high on the ridge.
View from atop our P1 looking down the route. Sco...
BETA PHOTO: Part of my anchor atop P1. I used a piton and my ...
Low on the NE headwall, gaining some rock to begin...
BETA PHOTO: Knife edge snow crossing. Click to enlarge and se...
Enjoying some exposure.
Climbing out of the notch.
Erick on the approach.
Swirly rock on the approach.
Looking north on the approach.
Mertensia alpina (alpine bluebells).
The pyramid-shaped formation is the NE Face of Ban...
The scrambling starts (I traversed climber's right...
Caroline, Reynolds, and Stewart Lakes.
Lots of easy ridge scrambling.
More easy stuff.
Another view to the north.
The 5.2 notch upclimb.
The 5.2 notch downclimb.
Looking down to Caroline Lake.
Looking back down the route.
Fall River Reservoir.
More easy scrambling to the false summits.
Another view of the lakes to the north.
Claytonia megarhiza (alpine spring beauty...
James Peak from the summit of Bancroft.
Fall River Reservoir (notch on the left is the cru...
Hymenoxys grandiflora (old man of the mou...
White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura).
White-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura),...
Looking back at the route.
Reynolds and Stewart Lakes.
|Comments on East Ridge Direct
|By Kirk Ranney|
Feb 2, 2009
Thanks for posting this. I have been meaning to do this route for a while now. Dave Cooper gives a great description of the route as a summer climb in his book 50 Classic Colorado Scrambles, I believe the pitch climbing out of the notch is rated 5.2 under less serious conditions (I don't know for sure as I have not actually climbed the route though). Did you guys ski in or snowshoe? I have been ski touring up there alot this winter and wondered what the route would be like in winter conditions. Thanks again for the info.
|By Dougald MacDonald|
Feb 3, 2009
Paul Gagner and I did this route in early January. We did three long pitches on the northeast buttress, including the lowest rock band. We thought it was great fun, with the bonus that you can easily avoid any potential avalanche danger. It's a cold place, though! See more photos at:
|By J. Fox|
From: Black Hawk, CO
Feb 3, 2009
Yeah thanks for the tip Dougald, your blog is where I learned of this route. It was a big full-on day for sure. The damned wind never ceased!
Kirk, we snowshoed in and it was an easy approach. The climb outta the notch, while short, was definitely harder than 5.2 IMHO. I climbed it with hands in wet liner gloves and wet mountaineering boots so I don't know how to rate it.
I put up a TR on my blog, just click my profile, the link is in there.
|By Kirk Ranney|
Feb 5, 2009
I was up there the same day. I was touring in the trees off the road at about 3-3:30. I heard some people talking on the road on my way in, I am wondering if that was you? It was a great day to be out and about. The TR was pretty cool, nice pictures!
|By J. Fox|
From: Black Hawk, CO
Feb 9, 2009
At 3/3:30 we were just nearing the summit, so it wasn't us.
|By Chris Plesko|
From: Westminster, CO
Jan 16, 2010
Notes apply to headwall variation:
Head straight to the Loch then to the lake above it. If you try to cut up the hill early, you'll just have to give back the elevation you gained and might fall in some tree wells to your partner's amusement. If you wish to protect this with even sort of reasonable runouts, bring lots of small gear and some pitons. A #1 C4 was the biggest we used along with a full set of C3s (and little nuts of course). Protecting the top headwall pitch without pins is well, really really hard. It's good fun in winter with all the turf sections and scattered ice patches though. One ice tool is handy and we used crampons. We did another variation on the headwall, starting far right to get some rock pro above a suspect snow band, P2 climbed a very steep narrow gully and P3 probably joined somewhere near the drawings on the beta photos at the top out spot. Choose your own alpine adventure and have fun!
|By Krister Sorensen|
From: Centennial, CO
Apr 12, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a R
Climbed the ridge with the direct start yesterday. The direct start really adds to the route and I highly recommend it. Pick your route on the face....anything goes. Climbing is no harder than 5.4 - 5.5 with very solid rock, but very run out. Only one peice of pro in each pitch. The rest of the ridge was great climing. Climb out of notch I'd say is 5.4, very positive holds and very short. Exposure might make it feel harder. Amazing route. Can't belive I just heard about this thing. Highly recommend!
|By Alan Stevens|
From: Golden, CO
Nov 21, 2010
Climbed this route yesterday, Nov, 20. Snowshoes would make the approach much easier. While the road appears to be fairly clear, you'll wish you brought the snowshoes when you start post-holing for the last mile. Also, the snow on the ridge line is still soft and fairly insecure. With the early winter conditions, it took just under 10 hours car to car. I highly recommend this route as a more technical and less crowded alternative to the popular climbs in the area. Also a lot of ski potential near Loch Lomond.
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 3, 2012
The road to Loch Lomond is open all the way for those fortunate to have high-clearance vehicles and despite what the sign before the second gate says. I like the route better with snow, but the views are still spectacular later in the season.