Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

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QuietBear
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Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by QuietBear »

I'm mapping out a little tour of the Zapata Creek basins for late summer/early fall and the biggest unknown I am struggling with is the ridge between UN 13656 and Ellingwood Point. I'm comfortable with a little tricky and exposed 5th class ridge climbing, but I like to know what I'm getting into, especially in the middle of a long solo day.

Have you climbed this ridge? What is it like?
Does anyone have a clear picture of this ridge or the difficulties along it?

My working route with the ridge in question circled:
Overview Map of My Lil Zapata Tour
Overview Map of My Lil Zapata Tour
lil zapata tour.png (378.89 KiB) Viewed 1874 times
I have read some reports/descriptions of "Ellingwood's North Ridge" such as this one https://www.summitpost.org/north-ridge/829293 and this one https://www.bradsnider.com/gash-ridge-to-blanca-peak/ discussed more here https://14ers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?style=10&t=58445. But, I'm having trouble identifying where the class 5 sections are because most resources I have found describe the crux/class 5 climbing to be "lower down" or "on the approach" when accessing Ellingwood's North Ridge from the East via Huerfano / Lily Lake.

Examining Lidar and Areal photography indicate potential cliff faces. The Google Earth view up this ridge gives me a big Yikes.
LIDAR Slope Angle map of the ridge
LIDAR Slope Angle map of the ridge
Ellingwood Upper North Ridge.jpg (197.39 KiB) Viewed 1874 times

Looking for more resources has not revealed any really informative views or descriptions, but these two have been the most helpful (thank you Mtnman200 and WildWanderer!):
https://wildwanderertripreports.com/202 ... /pt-13656/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za6yZL1cZko

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=21854:
Image

Pausing WildWanderer's summit video on the ridge makes it look like there might be a reasonable route up this ridge:
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Possible Route Using Screen Cap of WildWanderer's YouTube video.
Possible Route Using Screen Cap of WildWanderer's YouTube video.
possible route.jpg (231.39 KiB) Viewed 1874 times
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by supranihilest »

I haven't climbed it myself but here's a higher quality picture of the ridge from 13,656 with some snow to increase contrast.
20230505_095250.jpg
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by justiner »

Section looks like this, n to s it’s two pitches, easy 5th and 4th.
IMG_3240.jpeg
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by SnowAlien »

justiner wrote: Fri Jun 07, 2024 1:45 pm Section looks like this, n to s it’s two pitches, easy 5th and 4th.
What do you mean 2 pitches? Is it worth hauling the rope for? Looks a bit chossy for pro.
Last edited by SnowAlien on Sat Jun 08, 2024 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by justiner »

You can use the word "sections" if you like. And in the two sections, the climbing difficulty changes. Here's the upper half,
IMG_4875_Original.jpg
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I do not know the best way to protect it.
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by SnowAlien »

Would you say it's similar in difficulty to Gash ridge? I'm thinking possibly going up the Gash and descending this side of Ellingwood to tag the new UN 13er.
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by QuietBear »

justiner wrote: Fri Jun 07, 2024 1:45 pm Section looks like this, n to s it’s two pitches, easy 5th and 4th.
Thank you! That's good beta.

Could you draw the approximate route on one of these pictures?

What's the rock quality like?
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by justiner »

It's in the ballpark for sure -- although anything technical is going to be much shorter on this part of Ellingwood when compared to Gash Ridge. I found that once you approach the Gash, there's quite a bit of terrain to get through before you're back to just Class 3 stuff before summiting Blanca .

There is also a bunch of Class 3 stuff from California to this point on Ellingwood's N. Ridge as well, but above it, it's just talus hopping to the summit.

Here's another look at the ridge from the distance.
IMG_3471.jpg
IMG_3471.jpg (332.15 KiB) Viewed 1524 times
From the top (so we're descending, you'll find that open book with plenty of footholds -- this is the Class 4 section (and what that last photo I posted is showing). Stay relatively close to the ridge crest as it gets harder. You'll hit a slabby part with not as many holds with will be the crux. Stay just to the west side of the ridge - the east side has a massive amount of exposure. I tried finding a sneak more to the west of the ridge, but nothing panned out to skip that slabby part. Sorry if my beta isn't super accurate - I downclimbed it in 2019, but I remember a bit of hemming and hawing on that slab. I climbed it last year, and made better time, but it still felt hard, although I was really tired, and very dehydrated.

If you're bringing a rope for Gash, I could see someone giving a hip belay from the top as an assist down this. I don't think the rock quality is great - probably similar to how people describe Orme's Buttress on Blanca.
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by QuietBear »

justiner wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 12:37 pm There is also a bunch of Class 3 stuff from California to this point on Ellingwood's N. Ridge as well, but above it, it's just talus hopping to the summit.

Here's another look at the ridge from the distance.

From the top (so we're descending, you'll find that open book with plenty of footholds -- this is the Class 4 section (and what that last photo I posted is showing). Stay relatively close to the ridge crest as it gets harder. You'll hit a slabby part with not as many holds with will be the crux. Stay just to the west side of the ridge - the east side has a massive amount of exposure. I tried finding a sneak more to the west of the ridge, but nothing panned out to skip that slabby part. Sorry if my beta isn't super accurate - I downclimbed it in 2019, but I remember a bit of hemming and hawing on that slab. I climbed it last year, and made better time, but it still felt hard, although I was really tired, and very dehydrated.

If you're bringing a rope for Gash, I could see someone giving a hip belay from the top as an assist down this. I don't think the rock quality is great - probably similar to how people describe Orme's Buttress on Blanca.
Thank you. That's what I needed to know. I'm looking forward to the section between California and 13656-- seems enjoyable to me: a few puzzles and fun moves but unlikely to keep me stuck too long. I don't plan on climbing Blanca on this trip (although it is one of my favorites); instead I plan on traversing Ellingwood's west ridge to Twin Peaks. From what I can tell, there aren't too many tricky sections along that part of the route, although the first third looks to have a few side-slope detours around towers and gullies along the south-facing steep talus slopes. Do you know of any other specific hidden obstacles or difficult/exposed segments along the path I posted?

Thanks again for your help!
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by Marmot72 »

Having climbed Blanca up Gash ridge and down climbed from Ellingwood Point north, en route to 13656, etc. to California, the former is a stouter climb. I'm definitely not a great climber - more enthusiasm than skill - and while that section heading north from Ellingwood was airy, it was not tricky.

I posted a report of that outing here; it contains three pictures taken from the area of ridge in question (formerly known as between Ellingwood point and Unnamed 13,660):
https://www.exploringtherockies.com/201 ... -plus-3-2/
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by SnowAlien »

Thanks a lot for the ridge beta, Steve (and Justiner for the photos)! Your times are pretty stout - I wonder if Marsters got even quicker in the recent years? I think your report will be enough to motivate Shawn for a drive over Wolf Creek pass :)
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Re: Upper Section of Ellingwood's North Ridge - Traverse From UN 13656

Post by OldTrad »

There's also some info here and in the comments at the end of the TR.

Gash Ridge – Blanca: Senior Ridge Curriculum 404
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