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West Face

While the majority of South Side climbers head to Avalanche Gulch, the West Face offers a similarly difficult alternative.  It’s a little bit longer of an approach, hence the less traffic.  If you have two full days, and reasonable conditioning, it is a great option.

From the Sierra Club Hut you’ll climb/traverse along the lower ramparts of Casaval Ridge into Hidden Valley/Cascade Gulch.  At an elevation of 9,200 feet there are lots of bivy site options.  Keep in mind potential rock fall and snow slides when choosing a site.  The climb from here is a straight shot up along the shallow West Face gulley.  An alternate route ascends to the climber’s right of the West Face gulley following lower angle terrain up to about 11,000 feet through a short gap in the rocks onto the upper West Face gulley.  The crux is the top of the West Face but can easily be passed on the climber’s right.

The best part of this route isn’t necessarily the ascent, but the return via ski, board, or glissade.  The descent is spectacular in good conditions.  The best time for this route is early to mid-season.  The more snow the better.  Running snow melt water can be found in lower Hidden Valley/Cascade Gulch by mid-season, but runs dry by late season.

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Route Map

Route Photographs