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Ellingwood Peak
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North Ridge T 

North Ridge 

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

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1500', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: unknown
Season: Summer - early July to mid September
Page Views: 9,862
Submitted By: Joe Stern on Dec 10, 2007

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Morning on the North Ridge.


The North Ridge of Ellingwood is one of those Rocky Mountain alpine adventures that is familiar-sounding to many, but few actually put in the miles required to climb it. You'll find significant sections of 5.5 - 5.6 climbing on almost all of the 10 pitches on this route. The crux will vary a bit depending on the exact path chosen, but expect all manner of 5.6 climbing, including face, cracks, and overhangs. The rock is overall of very high quality, but don't forget that it's still the mountains, so you'll encounter some sections of loose rock and you should be ready to move fast enough to beat the common summer thunderstorms to the summit (and down a bit!).


Ellingwood Peak sits at the southeast end of Indian Basin, near Titcomb Basin. The North Ridge is the obvious intersection of two steep faces that rises straight up from talus to the summit. The climbing starts with some scrambling up on the left side of the ridge. The route follows the path of least resistance up the ridge, which narrows toward the top. A short scramble follows the technical climbing to the summit.

Descent is via the Southwest Ridge, which leads to a saddle between Elephant Peak and Ellingwood. The key to a successful descent of the Southwest Ridge is to stay very close to the ridge crest the entire way down to the saddle between Elephant Head and Ellingwood Peak. The initial descent links up ledge systems on the northwest side of the descent ridge. 2 or 3 rappel stations (i.e. tattered webbing pieces and rusted carabiners) will be encountered, mostly pretty close to the summit. It's worth investing some time to scout out the best path on the ridge almost constantly. So, save some energy for the descent, stay close to the ridge, and expect to spend about half the amount of time on the descent as you did on the climb.


As with almost all Wind River routes, a set of nuts is recommended. Bring 1-2 sets of cams from fingers to about 3 inches, depending on your comfort level on 5.6 terrain. Expect to build anchors for each belay. You'll encounter a handful of random fixed stoppers and pitons of variable quality. 60 meter rope(s) is/are useful for the long pitches.

Remember to bring plenty of water, as you won't find any between the middle of the approach and the saddle at the base of the Southwest Ridge descent. There's a good, small drainage among the boulders on the hike up to the ridge from Lake 10,813. You're likely to find some snowmelt near the top of the saddle between Elephant Head and Ellingwood after coming down.

Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
A broader view of Ellingwood Peak.
A broader view of Ellingwood Peak.
The red line is scrambling. The green is roped climbing.  We used the fish-shaped snow patch (blue marker) and the two small snow patches (pink marker) as a guide for where to start.  We started just above and right of the two small patches.  The fish-shaped one was visible during the whole approach, which really helped.
BETA PHOTO: The red line is scrambling. The green is roped cli...
Emily Isaacs on the lower portion of the Ellingwood Arete.
Emily Isaacs on the lower portion of the Ellingwoo...
Fuzzy leading up the 6th pitch.  One of the best on the route.
Fuzzy leading up the 6th pitch. One of the best o...
Emily Isaacs on the upper middle half of Ellingwood Arete. Beautiful sustained 5.6 climbing
BETA PHOTO: Emily Isaacs on the upper middle half of Ellingwoo...
Ellingwood Peak.  Notch Pinnacle is on the left and separated from Ellingwood by a snow couloir.  The North Ridge (III 5.6) follows the arete that rises straight to the summit from the base of this snow couloir.  The Southwest Ridge (descent route) follows the right hand skyline.
BETA PHOTO: Ellingwood Peak. Notch Pinnacle is on the left an...
The red line shows our route up the mountain.  We were definitely on the right track, and it felt good for the grade.  The blue line marks a gully/crack to the left of where we ascended (the gully/crack is not the blue line, but the visible crack just right of the blue line).  It could likely also be used as the start, and meets our route about 250-300ft up.  We rapped that gully, and it looked 5.6ish.
BETA PHOTO: The red line shows our route up the mountain. We ...
Cruising up the Ellingwood north ridge.
Cruising up the Ellingwood north ridge.
Fuzzy following on the final summit pitch.
Fuzzy following on the final summit pitch.

Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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By jbak
Oct 14, 2010

Looking at these pictures, I can see that we started way too low and right when we did this route. After being tent-bound by a 3 day storm, we just shot up the first rock we saw once the weather broke. First pitch was wet 5.10 and there was more hard (and wet) stuff above. Some of it with pretty bad pro. Rain and snow all morning. I thought maybe we were asking for trouble.

Then, just above halfway up, the sun broke out, we found the actual line (beautiful, dry, bulletproof rock), and life was good. Bootied 2 stuck Friends on the way up too. 16 pitches in all.
By Darren Knezek
Aug 11, 2011

FA: Fred Beckey, Patrick Callis August 25, 1970.
By Zolen Boogaerts
Aug 29, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

We attempted this route July 26th (I think) 2013. It is an unbelievable route. By far the most amazing thing I've ever done. We got kicked off the mountain by sleet and lightning, but it was incredible. We only had one day, so we had to go despite the threatening weather. It started clearing up, then the bottom fell out. We were lucky to get down. I heard lots of reports of confusing starts, so I added some pics with the exact route we took, which should really help future climbers on this route. We were 100% definitely on-route. We found lots of stuck gear (bootied a brand new yellow TCU), and had just made it about a pitch or two up the arete proper when things turned nasty. The bottom 2-3 pitches are decent, with nothing harder than 5.6-5.7 max (and I only even mention 5.7 because there was a 5.7ish, to me, crack, but I'm a Southeastern climber, so I don't do much crack). There was some mild loose rock down low, but once you're on the arete, it's beautiful. The setting is amazing. We didn't see a soul for three days. DO THIS CLIMB!!!
By C.M.Jones
From: Cedar City, UT
Aug 9, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Just did the route last weekend on the 2nd. It was amazing! Great climb, well sustained with plenty of protection. Route finding on first three pitches is a bit tricky, but after that, it's beautiful and straight forward. We 4th class climbed onto a ledge, had a bit of a run out start on the line we chose, but easy enough. Hit a couple of spots that felt 5.7 at the top, maybe it was because we were tired and of the line we chose. Otherwise, beautiful, sustained 5.5/5.6 climbing. We ended up doing 11 pitches and 30 feet to the summit. Must've missed the 4th class scramble. Still, we had good weather, slightly sketchy and confusing 4th class descent, but not too bad. Beautiful exposed route.

Considering protection we had 2 sets of nuts and 1 set of cams. We would've been a bit happier with a second set of TCU's, the route likes them towards the top, but did just fine. Couldn't retrieve our Metolius 3 and 5 stoppers, that was sad, but otherwise Ellingwood was incredible.