| "Modified S" Ridge
Sorry for the lack of photos. I was solo on this one so I never took any. PKR's trip report on this route is amazing, so check out that one for good beta on the correct way to climb this route.
I call this the "Modified S" because of my poor job of route finding in the dark.
I left the car from Lead King basin parking area about 4:00am. The climb up to Geneva Lake was uneventful save for a few deer on the trail. PKR and many others have done a good job detailing the route through the campsites around Geneva. Take a left at the first sign for campsite #4, and then stay on the main trail at the second sign for that campsite.
Some time after that, on my way up to Little Gem Lake is where I got off track. I was making good time, so my best guess is that I either got too far east near Little Gem, or just blew right past it in the dark. By the time the sun had risen enough for me to take a look at my intended route up the ridge, I realized that I was way too far north. I was about hole-high with Siberia lake, looking back southeast at the West Face.
Not wanting to bag the attempt on the S, I made a backtracking ascending traverse along the West Face. This lead to some great switch-backing class 3 and 4 climbing.
As noted by every other route description and trip report, there is tons of loose rock all over this mountain. I'd venture to say that there's not a stable rock below 13,000 anywhere up there. Don't trust a single stone no matter the size.
At one point I trusted both hands and feet on a Volkswagen sized slab, then rode it down about 20 feet before a roll maneuver onto my pack. After taking some time to clean out my underpants and let the heart rate drop, I continued up to gain the ridge at just below 13,000. From the other trip reports, I'd guess I hit the ridge a couple hundred feet above where one would hit it if taking the conventional route (if there is such a thing).
I stopped for a Luna bar on the ridge, then felt a little emotional, had a good cry, and continued on. Luna Bars… packed with estrogen…
The rest of the ridge ascent was super fun. The rock is a bit more stable (still test every hold before trusting it). There are a few areas that require some delicate route decisions. A few times I dropped below the ridge crest to avoid cliffing out, but overall, sticking close to the crest will get you right to the summit. I topped out around 9:30 am and was a bit surprised to be the first one on top for the day. I took my time and lazed about and before too long two more parties from the West Face and Northeast Ridge routes joined me.
I descended the West Face behind another group. The descent was quite a slog through loose talus and scree. Be careful to not roll rocks on to climbers below you. There was a massive rock slide in the gully just north of us which I learned later could be heard from Geneva Lake.
Overall, done correctly or not, I'd highly recommend this route over the West Face. There is much more opportunity for class 3 and 4 climbing.