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Mount Toll
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North Ridge 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b R

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 350', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Unknown
Page Views: 5,091
Submitted By: Tony B on Jul 21, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (21)
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360-ish-degree panorama from north ridge in early ...


From Boulder, Mount Toll is an obvious sharply-profiled peak back [in the] Indian Peaks. On the north and south sides a ridge of good rock rises up at the edge of a steep, but broken East and West Faces.

The "North Ridge" is both a feature and a route. As a route it is a somewhat ambiguous and moderate line, or perhaps more accurately, a set of lines. There run up the profile of the... you guessed it, NORTH side ridge of Mount Toll. If this same face were in Eldo there would be a dozen named routes on it, but as it is, it's pretty much a broad range of climbing through which most people pick the line of least resistance.

The climbing is a little discontinuous, a little wandering, and a shave runout in spots, so the quality is not 3-star quality, but the position and view make this a stellar line. The summit is no less note-worthy.

To climb the route approach over a the boulder fields, aiming for the basin just below and to the north of the sharp North Ridge of Rock. Cross some snow fields and scramble up some steep loose talus to reach a saddle just on the north shoulder of the peak, below the ridge. Head to the West side of the North Ridge and look back south and east to see a right-leaning, right-facing set of dihedrals. At first glance, these look like they might be 5.9, but where the cracks get overhanging and hard, one can step to the right and do some face climbing to avoid difficulty. This is an excercise in route-finding and using slings to avoid drag.

Climb a pitch then belay when you run out of rope, gear, or have too much drag. Belays are not everywhere, so do some planning in advance to avoid getting stranded. I belayed off of a few good nuts in a short right facing corner up in the crack system- where I found the remains of an old fixed hex in a horizontal below me. There was no cord left to clip.

For the next pitch I continued up and slightly back left to a crack system which included a nice handcrack and then a thinner crack with an old, (perhaps 1950s) soft-iron pin. Again, I landed up on a nice sloping ledge and walked to the back and built a belay. You might still find my brown Tricam in said belay, which apparently I got set very well.

The third pitch was up and left again to a boiler-plate face with beautiful movement and stone- if it was a 200' face I'd be raving about it, but the truely nice section was short, so I'll just call it "good." Again, I walked some distance back from the edge, got a good stance, slung a boulder and belayed my partner up.

That was the basic route. Additional climbing potential lies above this point on the summit tower- about 80M more, if I were to hazard a guess. It looked like one could take a probable 5.9+ up and off-width to easier ground on the right, with garbage rock at the base to start and improving, or go left and sort out any one of the probable crack systems from 5.8 to 5.11. Again, the rock looked a little less solid here at the base. Weather was a concern and so we did the standard finish.

To summit, walk South on a series of ledges and 3rd class sections on the West side [of] the summit block until it becomes obvious that you should cut back north to the peak along a ridgeline. This was very moderate and [comfortable] scrambling, but the consequences of a fall could have been severe in some spots. Consider roping up if the thought of a 500' fall from 5.0 moves makes you nervous.

To descend, walk off to the south and then to the Southeast back toward Blue Lake. Some scrambing is required on the walkdown.


A light alpine rack- a set of stoppers, a few small tricams, some hexes... And a lot of 2' slings, as the route wanders a bit. Cams are optional, but if you like a lot of pro, you'll need more than a few stoppers and hexes, so bring a set of cams.

Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Completing the 1st pitch (4th class ramp) of North...
BETA PHOTO: Completing the 1st pitch (4th class ramp) of North...
Judging by the vegetation, probably not on route.....
Judging by the vegetation, probably not on route.....
North Ridge from the North.  We started in the sha...
BETA PHOTO: North Ridge from the North. We started in the sha...
Standing in front of the North Ridge...
Standing in front of the North Ridge...
Brett on North Ridge
Brett on North Ridge
Nice sticky granite. This is looking up the second...
BETA PHOTO: Nice sticky granite. This is looking up the second...
Mt. Toll from the East. July 2011.
Mt. Toll from the East. July 2011.

Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 7, 2013
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Sep 21, 2002

This line is exposed to weather and can be quite cold with a stiff wind coming over the divide. Plan on good wind gear and warm layers if the weather is at all iffy. Not a shorts and t-shirt route.
By Stan Lanzano
Sep 21, 2002

Gerry Roach gives this climb classic status but for me I found it to be full of loose, shattered rock with lots of discontinous climbing. One star in my book, though the alpine setting is really beautiful.

Leo brings up a good point. The route is in the shade and is prone to high wind. Bundle up, no matter how nice it was on the approach.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Sep 23, 2002

Agreed that it was cold and windy on the route. I forgot to include the fact that as you are on the West side of the North Ridge, in a right-facing system, that you will predominantly be in the shade as well. Brrrr... yes, we were chilly, but I though the wind at the time might have been due to the incoming weather. A particularly violent storm hit just after noon. The lenticular formations up top beforehand were awesome though.
By flynn
Nov 2, 2002

My partner, Erik, and I did this route on Labor Day this year. Even with flawless, sunny skies, it was still cool enough to warrant long sleeves, bandana and shell for me, the human popsicle. Erik's from Minnesota, so he was in a t-shirt. Fine.

Kicking steps in our sneaks (my toes whined a lot) up the rock-hard snow/ice just below the saddle was the scariest part of the whole day, except for trying to find a parking place down by Brainard.

When we arrived at the saddle, there was another party ahead of us (arrgh), headed for the same route, of course. Rather than wait behind/below them, we scampered around to the west and Erik led a meandering 'thing' that grew into a nice, brief crack, then a spectacularly exposed, easy hand traverse. About 45 meters later, he found a solid, classic belay ledge. I then led back left, above the other party by now, picked my way past a few loose microwaves and bowling balls and stemmed past the right side of several small overhangs. That put us on the terrace you see on the north face of Toll. You probably couldn't fit more than about 150 people up here.

You could romp up class 4 terrain from here to the summit, but since it was Erik's lead, he went around the corner to the west (again) and found a steep, pretty line that led vertically past a shield of sorts, to some high-angle bucketous face climbing and another generous ledge after about 30 meters. Being the kind soul that he is, he belayed at the foot of an absolutely classic handcrack. It was desperate: there was one move of 5.6 or so to start, then it became a low-angle ramble to the rocky summit.

I'll second all the comments so far about loose rock. Just know that the junk is intermittent; where the rock is good, and that's most of the way, it's bulletproof and visually pretty as well. As long as you're paying attention, there's no good reason to launch anything.
By shad O'Neel
May 12, 2003

I remember nothing serious about this route, nor much for loose rock. Was a really fun adventure climb with solid gear and holds in my mind. I remember the crux was getting up to the saddle in our tennis shoes.
By Rob Mullen
Jul 2, 2003

In the photo below by Klein, where does the route go? My guess would be the right hand skyline, but I see two other ridges as well. Thanks.
By Andy Moore
Jul 2, 2003

Yes Rob, the route goes up the ridge on the right-hand skyline.
By Brendan Sheehan
Jul 19, 2003

Climbed on 7-19-03. Here's how it went for us. Starting at base of ridge, 100 feet or so of 3rd class before roping up. P1: 150 feet 3rd class to about 5.4. P2: 80 feet 3rd class to about 5.4 This got us to the big ledge. Continuing above the big ledge on the ridgeline.... P3: 80 feet of crack/chimney with a few awkward/overhung moves up to solid 5.8. P4: 80 feet of 3rd class to about 5.4. This got us to a false summit. Downclimbed 40 feet or so, joining the 4th class route from the big ledge. P5: 100+ feet of 4th class to the summit. Fun climb.
By Warren Teissier
Aug 15, 2003

We just climbed this route last [Saturday]. A couple of pointers:

Once you reach the saddle in front of the north face look at the West side, we followed a solid ramp that climbed up the West side for some 30ft. and roped up at the base of a small short dihedral. We followed it up and then traversed left and later right on great face holds with a 60m rope I was able to reach a comfy ledge and set a belay at the base of a blocky dihedral.

Another pitch up the dihedral got us to the big ledge where we unroped and traversed West until we found an easy gully that lead to a clean class4 ridge and to the summit.

Great climb.

By Anonymous Coward
Aug 2, 2004

Seems lots of mention of climbing in the shade. What a bummer. Thought I would toss out an easy and high quality way to hold the apex of the ridge and stay in the sun. Since Roach says to go directly up the ridge - who knows, maybe this is what he intended:

1) Start in the very first 5.6ish crack system beginning maybe 20 feet up the ramp leading west off the saddle. Anything left of this system will be way harder than 5.6. This pitch is steep, slightly left leaning, and goes through a clean dihedral, depositing you on a ledge with blocks.

2) Traverse the blocky ledge straight left over a few loose blocks and around the exposed corner into the SUN. Head straight up to another ledge. You are now at the base of a steep, difficult looking dihedral directly above.

3) Climb about 5-10 ft up the right facing, left side of the dihedral, and bump over left around the corner and onto a small ledge just before it gets quite a bit harder than 5.6 in the dihedral. More SUN. Above is a handcrack leading to a blocky roof looking thing. Still easy stuff. Follow your nose straight up from there to the big ledge mentioned several times here and in the guidebook.

4) The best way past the final step is probably the first chimney west of the ridge, mentioned in Roach. Nice clean white rock. A little shade here, then easy to get back on the crest.

Enjoy. I didn't have a rope, so guessing at logical belay locations.3) might be longer than a rope. Plenty of options. I'm thinking 2.5 stars in the Front Range context, 3 stars in the Indian Peaks context.

I bumped on over Pawnee Peak as well, so as to see something different on the way home. Probably adds only 45 mins and maybe 1-2 miles, but places you on a wide easy trail for the majority of elevation loss back to the car.
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 11, 2005

Climbed this on 7/10. Beautiful climb and a really fun glissade on the way down!

We were just below another party and ended up with a nice cam. Drop a line @ dr_mellison@yahoo.com and we can figure out how to get it back to you.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 14, 2005

We climbed this route a week ago on 8/8/05. The route we followed seemed to go right up the ridge crest (such as it is), which is maybe 50' or so to the east of the divide, and appears to be the actual North Ridge. It's a fun route, and climbable in boots with a pack if you're used to such, but a bit cold because of the wind coming over from the west.We started up the right angling ramp, which starts about 30' east of the divide, went up maybe 15' and took a left leaning narrow flake system. This got us onto the crest of the ridge. Then up, and turned a small overhang by traversing left under it. There's a fixed pin under the roof. Then straight up to a large ledge with a great crack in a face at it's back, with a fixed cam in it.The second pitch went up on steep but easy ground, and turned another steep area by pulling up and right onto a small slab under another overhang, maybe 5.6, and then continued up a short ways to the huge talus covered ledge. There's a large block that can be slung for the anchor.Then we walked on the ledge around to the west side, and went up to the first obvious gully to the ridge, which was 4th class, though steep, and also had a fixed pin, and then traversed south a short ways to the summit.
By Merlin
From: Grand Junction
Oct 1, 2006
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

This climb protects reasonably well enough that I don't think it warrants an R rating. It does require some attention to detail to ensure that you stay at 5.6 (we found a 5.8ish line), but I never felt like a real bad fall was likely if I had to weight my last piece of pro, and I tend to be cowardly about this sort of thing.
By B-rad
Sep 14, 2008
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Climbed on 9/6/08. It was incredibly windy and cold with occasional snow and ice stuck to the rock (it is still technically summer on Sept 6, right?)! The climbing was mellow and wasn't so difficult that a moderate leader like myself couldn't climb wearing gloves.

I don't recall any places on the North Ridge that didn't protect well, so I also question the R rating. Please don't let this deter you from climbing this excellent route! There are some loose blocks, so climb as if you're on an alpine route . . . which you are.

Couple of suggestions:
1) When you get to the 5.5 chimney with the old pin (our 3rd pitch), take your pack off and trail it below you on a long runner or cordelette. It will make the chimney much more enjoyable.
2) When traversing to the right on the large ledge (after chimney), I highly recommend taking the first obvious gully on the left (mentioned above by AC on 8/14/05). In my opinion, the climbing is 5th class; perhaps a couple of 5.4-5.5 moves by Eldo standards, has good pro and large fun buckets. After this sequence you can wander to the right on 3rd class terrain to the summit, or continue up a 5.5ish right facing dihedral that stretches out a 60m rope. This last bit from the ledge is lots of fun and well worth keeping the rope out!
By Kirill Kireyev
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 20, 2010

Classic route, mostly for exposure and views, not so much for rock quality.

This is the path that we did:
0) Gain the saddle, hike west, scramble (4th class) through a notch and up and right on the ramp. Stop and belay when the wall steepens to 5th class.
1) Climb a left-leaning crack, reach a large ledge, continue another 30 feet up and left until you get to a large, left-facing dihedral with a 5x5 ft ledge (5.6)
2) Climb up and right, aiming for the large slightly overhanging dihedral with a wide hand/fist crack, which should spit you out on a huge ledge with lots of loose rock (5.8). Belay from the edge of the ledge (right over the dihedral) to avoid knocking off rocks.
3) Walk 30 ft to the prominent prow, which we tackled directly. Start on loose-looking protruding blocks (most of them are solid), then ascend the wide crack (5.8).

At this point, scramble 10ft up and 20 ft down (scary step over) on 4th class to join the main formation. Scramble to the top.
By Mikelsons
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 26, 2010

Climbed on July 24, and had perfect weather. I brought my rock shoes, which made it more fun. The route finding was guesswork on my part, but I kept it around 5.7. The topout on the big ledge (looks like a step in the mountain's profile on the approach) was sketchy. I lead a 10' hand crack and found myself face to face with a big pile of loose talus when I pulled over the top. Once my partner was up, I was able to look down the other viable routes to the ledge and every one is surrounded by potential bombs. In setting the belay for the last pitch up to this ledge, I would recommend putting it out of the fall line. However, the danger is worth it, the thrill of climbing this icon of the Indian Peaks profile is incomparable.
By Travis Drake
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 7, 2013

Pretty fun route. A rather quick three pitches. Very much a "choose your own adventure" kind of route. One could do it maybe 10 different ways. My advice - don't read any beta, just head up there and have an adventure.

Leo is right, it's all in the shade. Cold belays.
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