The South Ridge of North Arapahoe Peak (13,502') is the most direct way to summit the highest peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Roach calls this a classic, but in the conditions I did this traverse in, I had trouble even giving it one star.
The 0.6 mile traverse from South Arapahoe (13,397') in which you hardly gain or lose any elevation was loose, wet, and exposed at all the wrong times. Pulling an overhung 5.4 boulder problem off snow in mountain boots with a 1500' drop to the Arapahoe glacier below while wearing a pack full of ice gear is interesting, but there's better things to do. Same goes for jumping off a muddy ledge into a 4'x4' patch of snow with drops on both sides, and climbing a final sloppy snow gully with a long runout to the glacier. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of good climbing to be had, good scenery, and a cool 100' catwalk that has fantastic exposure. Just wait for the snow to melt before trying it.
To give the route a little more credit, on the return trip I found some better routes to bypass the snow gully and snow-platform jump and had a little more fun - a hint: don't follow the paint marks in the slot or the bit cairns leading east near the summit. Descend South Arapahoe via the southeast slopes to pick up the trail.
Some trad gear could be used if you need to pro parts of this traverse.
South Arapahoe as seen from North Arapahoe. Late ...
The South Ridge and North Arapahoe, from about the...
N/S Arapahoe traverse in spring conditions.
|By David Neckels|
Aug 13, 2002
Sounds bad from the description above, but I did this in dry conditions and found it absolutely spectacular. Tons of beautiful class 3 problems on extremely solid rock.I can definitely see how the route would be a pain in wet conditions, however, since many of the problems involve friction on the slabs...
|By Nick Kuhn|
May 26, 2003
I agree with David above. The route is superb when dry and provides an exciting, fun scramble. Camping at 4th of July mines enhances the experience.
|By Brendan Sheehan|
Jun 9, 2003
did this on 6-6-03. seemed fun and reasonable to me with snow on it. The road is totally dry. Loads of snowmelt waterfalls on s. arapahoe and avalanche debris near the trailhead. Both times I've been up here it's been very cold because of strong persistent wind even though it's hot below treeline. There were snow flurries on 6-6.
|By Charles Danforth|
From: L'ville, CO
Oct 13, 2003
Did this one on 10-11-03 and had a great time and found it conciderably easier and less exposed than the North Ridge of Mt. Neva though much longer. Conditions were not the best with sub-freezing temperatures and strong, gusty wind. Since a lot of this involves walking on knife-edge ridges, a cross-wind wasn't the most comforting thing in the world. The small amount of snow and rime ice weren't too bad. Roach lists four class-4 cruxen on the route and the middle two (a 10' slab climb up and an abrupt 10', undercut drop) were worthy of the grade. Everything else was pretty straight forward. The 10' drop can be bypassed on the east by scrambling down a loose chimney and then working under a ledge and back up or by frictioning down an exposed slope to the west. The former is easier on the way north, the latter on the way south (where the friction down becomes up). The 10' slab climb is trivial on the way back toward S. Arapaho.
All in all, a memorable and spectacular traverse with 100+ mile visibility and strong winds.
I should also note (and I haven't seen it anywhere here) that there is a nice three-walled, roofless shelter built on the summit of S. Arapaho facing east. Sheltered us from the wind nicely.
|By Paul Weiss|
Mar 4, 2004
Make it interesting and don't use a guidebook but use your own routefinding. Lots of nifty variations on this wonderful ridge traverse. Mostly 3rd class. If you enjoy scrambling this one is for you.. LOL
Oct 12, 2010
Followed the orange paint and the cairns with no problem in snowless conditions on Oct. 3. A good route with very little loose rock to worry about. Exposure is limited.
|By Ryan Watts|
From: Bishop, CA
Jun 30, 2013
Just did this today. Description is a bit misleading. I did this today, and it was mostly dry. Any snow could be easily avoided. Good bit of 3rd class stuff with maybe 1 or 2 bits of 4th class depending on the route you take. I didn't try it, but it looks like you could probably avoid the 4th class stuff by taking a trail a bit lower on the west side of the ridge.