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Monster Tower
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North Ridge T 

North Ridge 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c

   
Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c [details]
FA: Ken Trout, Kirk Miller (May 1981) according to Desert Rock
Fixed Hardware: 1 Lead Bolt [details]
Page Views: 7,809
Submitted By: J. Hickok on Oct 14, 2005

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Devan Johnson coming across the 4th pitch on Washe...

Description 

Approach: Park to the SW of the towers, right before the wash where the road turns back to the left (or southeast)... same as for Washer Woman. Park on the road, but pull off the side as far as possible. Park Rangers issued us a warning about parking off the road. Parking here gives you a view of the western sides of these towers. Head up a ridgeline right north of the parking and ascend the benches to the final talus slope. My recommendation is to head for the south end of Monster Tower and then traverse up and right around the tower to the east side just down from the notch separating the towers.

The Climb:
P1 - Easy left facing dihedral leads to a ledge. Climb around a small amount of looseness and up a small and short right facing dihedral. The belay is here, right below a curving crack that will appear somewhat wide. GRADE: 5.9

P2 - Climb the curving crack above the anchor. After reaching a ledge, clip a long sling to the fixed gear and ascend the low angle wide crack to a big ledge on a pedestal. (Or belay below the low angle wide crack and separate that pitch.) GRADE: 5.10+

P3 - Move slightly left to the obvious thin crack which is a shallow right facing dihedral. Climb the thinner crack and then offwidth to a large belay ledge. A great rest appears after the thin climbing. There are smaller gear placements to be found in the offwidth sections. GRADE: 5.11

P4 - Climb blocky ledges and then a chimney. Finish on a ledge with a fixed anchor. Supposedly, another option is to climb poor rock through ledges and another chimney to the right. Either way, this pitch has the most loose climbing on the tower. GRADE: 5.8 or 5.9

P5 - Begin off a very large ledge. A variety of climbing leads up, out a bulge, slightly right and then traverses left again to a good ledge. Next, either move left to a free variation or use the bolt ladder above the ledge. We aided the bolt ladder which led back to face climbing free moves to a ledge right below the summit cap rock with an anchor. GRADE: 5.11 maybe some A0

Summit by having your partner belay the easy moves up and back down from the cap rock. Register on top. Never saw an anchor on the very top.

Protection 

1 each Friends #1 to #4, 1 each Camalots #.5 to #4 (old purple #4)Aliens or other small cams for under 1"1 Set of Stoppers.

Extra #0.5 Camalots, #3 Camalots or equivalent.

Bringing gear larger than an old style B.D. #4 Camalot is up to your discretion as a desert climber.

We took one 70m rope and made single-rope rappels back down safely from anchor to anchor. Fixed anchors at the top of every pitch.


Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
S-crack on the second pitch
S-crack on the second pitch
One big pitch.  Linking the crux into the chossy squeeze chimney.
One big pitch. Linking the crux into the chossy s...
Strappo, reaching the summit
Strappo, reaching the summit
Looking up P1
Looking up P1
summit shot
summit shot
P3-The crux....
P3-The crux....
Strappo, pitch 1
Strappo, pitch 1
P4-Looks chossy, but has some fun, easy climbing
P4-Looks chossy, but has some fun, easy climbing
I thought YOU had hold of the ropes....
I thought YOU had hold of the ropes....

Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 17, 2014
By Anonymous Coward
May 30, 2002

We just did the North Ridge last week... great climb, but with some rather poor bolts.

The picture in Bjornstad's guide that purports to be of the first pitch is actually of the crux fourth pitch - this confused us a bit looking for the start.

The last couple of pitches have some loose rock (not really bad by desert standards, but be prepared - it ain't all cleaned off like Fine Jade!), and the last two pitches as described in the guidebook must be done as one, as there is no anchor - a scary runout to the summit if you let rope drag develop!

The second pitch is very physical but straightforward; the fourth is just plain HARD. The crux - pictured in the guidebook - can be aided on #2 Friends... which will suffice to get you to the offwidth ;-).

Anchors on the entire route consist of old star drives, which were a little spooky to rappel from (most can be backed up for use as belay anchors). Some new bolts at the belays would do this route a lot of good.
By Anonymous Coward
Nov 16, 2002

The North Ridge of Monster Tower is a spectacular climb with incredible stances and beautiful scenery.Mistakingly we avoided the 1st pitch. The 2nd pitch (5.10d)is a stunning wide hands curving crack well worth the fight to a good rest stance. Put in some pro here cause your not going to get any for the rest of the 5.7 or 5.8 slanting squeeze chimney up to a perfect belay stance. The 3rd pitch(5.11a)is the crux. A long sandy loose fingers crack. I felt insecure all the way to the top of this section then peeling off just before a descent hand jam. Then pulling into a wide offwidth to squeeze crack. A #4.5 and #5 Camalot would have been nice to have thru this section.The 4th pitch is a welcomed easier pitch. We took the left hand variation. The 5th pitch (5.10)I thought had some fun moves. Short pitch.The 6th pitch (5.11a) was very exciting. We did the free variation heading left and up. A few sequency moves unto easier but sandy rock will put you on top. This to me was the best view of the desert landscape I've seen. With the White Rim below you, Washer Woman beside you and all the other towers and mesas in the distance.
By Rob Dillon
Nov 11, 2003

Re: the North Ridge-- Approached via the SE slopes (as for Washer Woman/Suds) as we'd found an excellent, gradual ridge-hike departing right from the parking site in the wash to the SE of the towers. Others we saw came from the N, but we didn't feel like attempting an unknown slog when the one we found worked well. The traverse around is no bargain, though-- ball-bearing scree over hardpack. The 'long sandy loose fingers' section on p.3 is about twenty feet and takes 1" pro as often as you can let go to stick it in; the OW above took a 4.5 Camalot which I found welcome. My pard put a #5 in on the 4th, the only place we used it, but he was glad enough to have it. Ditch it all after this cuz that's the end of the wideness. Bolts are good (enough) as of 11/03. Eventually J Smith's 1/4''er at the crux of the summit pitch will need replacing, but it's in good rock, doesn't wiggle a bit, and seemed OK for now. Pulling ropes seemed like the crux-short ropes are OK for this route as the pitches are all under 120'.
By Devan Johnson
Mar 28, 2007

Aaron Cloud and I did this route on 3/26. Here are our impressions:

The first pitch can be avoided by scrambling along the east side of the notch.
The second pitch is about as good as it gets in the desert. Hard, fun and pumpy. Mostly fist and wide hands.
Didn't lead the crux, but felt it was super hard and the OW's didn't give easy.
We had a 4 and 5 cam and were very thankful we brought them.
Belay bolts are in sorry shape, definitely need replacing.
Rapping down from the top of the 2nd pitch will eat your rope.
One 70m rope will suffice for the raps.
The best desert summit I've ever been on.
By John Steiger
May 24, 2008

We found the SE approach fairly well trod and cairned as of 5/08 -- start by walking up the major drainage on the tower's east side. We accidentally missed the 1st pitch by scrambling up to the notch and over to the base of the 2d pitch; probably a mistake -- 1st pitch looks good. The crux 3rd pitch whipped my 50+ old carcass; had to pull on a few pieces. Seemed solid 5.11 to me (1 1/4" finger stacks or wild laybacking). Did the free finish; agree that it is 11a, but somewhat spooky since protected by a 1/4" buttonhead with a Leeper hanger, with the next pro being a rusted LA driven in upside down (with some blade exposed). All star drives on the belays/rap stations have been backed up by new bolts or drilled pins.
By BenCooper
From: Wyoming
Mar 26, 2009

We climbed this route on 3/25/09. Below are some observations that may be of some use

-This route is burlier, harder, and generally more thought-provoking than Standing Rock or Primrose Dihedrals. Not necessarily better though...
-All anchors are questionable. Each consists of 2 star-drives, and 1 decent, newer bolt. These newer bolts, however, are not necessarily bomber. The very top anchor's "newer" bolt is spinning...uggh. This is a prime recipient for the good works of the ASCA. I would also bring some webbing for the rap anchors as it may be shredded tat when you climb it.
-The first pitch (assuming you skipped the true first pitch) is burly, and I mean burly. Bring 3.5 camalots! They are essential. We brought two 3.5's, and four 3's, and we wish we had four 3.5's. The offwidth at the top of this pitch is huge. We protected it with a #4 big bro. An old #5 camalot (new #6 size) is completely tipped out here.
-2nd pitch is crazy hard. If you're used to 5.11a finger cracks in the desert, this will feel like 5.11+. #4, #5, and #6 camalots (new sizing) protect the upper offwidth sections.
-The chimney pitch (3rd pitch) is the easiest on the route, and actually pretty fun, but still no giveaway.
-The 5.10 4th pitch (where you pull a small roof) is pretty hard, and has some interesting climbing. There is NO belay at the top of this pitch, so you need to link it with the bolt ladder above or the scary 5.11 face climbing to the left of the ladder.
-Bring thin gear (like 00, 0, and 1 TCU's) for the 4th pitch and for above the bolt ladder on the scary, more or less unprotected face moves to the anchors just below the summit cap. Also, I was able to desperatly cram a huge cam and a .5 camalot in above the bolt ladder a ways. These were probably more like confidence pieces than real pro. The face moves above the bolt ladder were mind-bending for me. Not expecting to have to link these pitches, I didn't bring enough slings/draws, so ropedrag was bad. As such, I couldn't really climb the last face moves with all the drag, so I took about 10 feet of slack before committing. Because of this and the lack of pro, I was looking at a 40+ footer over ledges...not so much fun.

-All in all, an amazing route that is demanding in all the aspects of climbing: variety of climbing (thin fingers to offwidth to chimney), gear of all sizes, skethy bolts, great exposure, wild setting, and LOTS of loose rock. This is a 1-party climb. DO NOT try and climb below a party. Go climb Washer Woman instead.

Gear: 2 sets of cams, with triples in finger sizes (.5 camalots and orange TCU's), triples in #3 and #3.5 camalots, and big cams and a big bro if you got 'em. One 70m rope gets you down the rappels with a little room to spare. Otherwise, two 50's will work.

Approach: SE trail is the best route up. Some highly exposed, 4th class scrambling is necessary to get to the anchor at the bottom of the "1st" pitch, the curvey off-hands/fist crack.
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Mar 27, 2009

Monster Towers anchors are on the schedule to be redone by the ASCA. We are waiting for a permit from the Park Service. All indications are we will have it by Fall. Til then, rappel lightly.
By jeff haskell
May 4, 2009

- A 70m does work for all raps. 4 back to the saddle, 5 back to the base if you did the first pitch.
- Don't skip the first pitch. It takes an extra 5 minutes to get to it and it's a good warm up pitch for the next couple.
- There IS an anchor on top of the pitch 4 chimneys. It is out left. I am guessing that people have missed it because there is more than one way to do pitch 4 (left chimney system or the right). If you were to climb the right one you would not go past this anchor naturally. That said, there are also gear belay options in the last 100ft. One at the base of the pitch 5 steep groove/corner (small cams or stoppers) and one just below the bolt ladder (cams and bolts). Using these there should be no need to finish with the horrible drag as described by others.
By ryandb
Mar 10, 2010

Sam or others,
Were the anchors in fact replaced on this route yet, or are you still waiting for NPS consent?
Thanks!
By heppnerd
Nov 8, 2010

no new anchors as of 11-7-10 but one decent bolt at every belay backed up by so so others
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Mar 21, 2011
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13

Just a heads up, the last pitch is interesting. After the bolt/pin ladder, we went left towards the arete. This may not be the way to go but to the right looked harder. No real pro after the bolts though.
By erik rieger
From: Gold Hill, CO
Apr 23, 2012

Every pitch on this route is excellent! Not sure why anyone would skip the first pitch, it's an awesome handcrack with sweet lie-backing up high! The curving crack is as good as it gets, run out the wide crack up top to the anchor, it's fun and quite secure. Crux pitch is hard off the deck then eases up, one #5 is nice on this pitch. The left chimney on the fourth pitch is super fun and the last pitch is wild. There is some loose rock on the ledges between pitches but our crew climbed this as two parties without issue. Would be nice to see updated anchors and a fresh bolt on the 5.11 face climbing up top to replace the old buttonhead. Rad climb!
By Josh Janes
Apr 30, 2013

Some thoughts:

Though this route is called the North Ridge, it feels more like the West Ridge as it takes the side of the tower facing Washer Woman and gets some afternoon sun.

Approaching the tower from the south side is easy following a well-defined climbers' trail. This leads to the notch between Monster and Washer Woman - gaining the notch requires 4th class scrambling, and then once at the notch you can scramble along the it to the belay atop the 1st pitch, but this last little bit is exposed and loose low-5th class. It would then be easy to rap down and do the 1st pitch or just begin the with the 2nd pitch.

I have not approached via the north side, but though it would lead directly to the start of the 1st pitch, it appears longer and kinda nasty. Also, traversing around the base of the tower to the east (to get from the south side of the notch to the north side or vice versa) is loose and tedious.

We climbed the route with a double set to #4 Camalot - didn't use a single wire, but was glad to have one extra 0.5 for P3. Without a #6 Camalot (I suspect a #5 Camalot would be worthless), you are soloing the upper bit of P2 and a section of P4 - both of these bits are relatively easy, but very serious w/o big gear.

The belay atop the 3rd pitch is way off to the right of the line, but it makes sense when you rap.

All of the "bad belays" are fine (each has three or more drilled pins and old or modern bolts), but much of the webbing is faded and gnarly. On the other hand, I believe the bolt protecting the free variation of the last pitch is very dangerous. The crux moves (11d or so) are only a few feet above it (a 1/4" buttonhead that looks really bad - I wouldn't even want to body-weight it), but if that bolt popped in a fall, the leader would go for a 30-50' swinging fall and it wouldn't be clean. The next piece of pro above that bolt is an upwards-driven pin in a very hollow flake, but once you grab that flake the hard climbing is over. Above that is some decent gear where the free variation and bolt ladder variation join, and then yet another spicy section before reaching the summit.

I would be happy to join a motivated person to replace that bolt (using the same hole if possible or if not, moving it upwards a few inches). I think the pin should be left alone. All the anchors could use proper rap rings or chains to clean up the tat. PM me if you want to go up there and do it.

Incidentally, the bolt ladder appears OK (a star drive or two, a newer bolt, a drilled angle and a Lost Arrow protect).
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Mar 17, 2014

We rapped the route with a single 60 meter rope (an Edelweiss FYI, although I'm not sure if it's extra long compared to other 60s). Tie knots in the ends as all of the raps were long and close to the limit of a 60 and the last rap required some easy down climbing for a few feet.

Rap lengths by pitches: Pitch 5 was 95'. Pitch 4 was 90'. Pitch 3 was 100'. Pitch 2 was all of 100' with some helpful rope stretch. Pitch 1 was just over 100' with 5 feet of easy down climbing.

There is currently a line fixed to descend the notch between Washer Woman and Monster Tower. This enables you to do the Washer Woman/Suds in Space approach and descend to the base of the true 1st pitch.

Regarding the 2nd pitch, I didn't think the #6 Camalot did much because it was super tipped out at the bottom of the wide crack. I ended up leaving it at the bottom of the crack to "back up" the Star Drive bolt because as I moved it up, the crack seemed to just be getting wider and the cam seemed to be totally ineffective.

The route seemed to be pretty darn clean to me, for a desert tower. Some loose stuff on some ledges but overall pretty clean. Again, it's a desert tower, not your local sport crag.

Also, someone should bring some fresh writing material for the summit register. The lone pen is barely functional.