Moran’s Northeast Ridge is a wonderful, long climb with few difficult technical sections. Also, chances are you’ll have it all to yourself.
What Makes It Great
We’ve usually camped just below tree line on the ridge. Early and mid-season, there’s usually water at a nearby-ish snowfield. We’ve seen this snowfield completely melted by the first week of August though, so, as horrible as this sounds, you might to get all the water you need at the Skillet creek.
Warning: Ascending this ridge, you cannot see any weather approaching from the west, so give the weather careful consideration before starting out. If weather rolls in while you’re on the ridge, there are few places to escape.
When you begin climbing, the biggest obstacle on the route, the Gendarme (at 10,320 feet), comes fairly early on. We’ve bypassed it on the north on a wide but somewhat exposed ledge. Some of our party roped up and was belayed here; others were comfortable without a belay.
One around the Gendarme, route-finding is easy: follow the ridge. Things don’t get spicy again until just below the north summit, when you hit a steep section. You can climb straight up it (5.4) or traverse south a smidge and find a fairly obvious chimney (it’s also 5.4). From the north summit, the true summit is about 150 feet higher and 400 meters to the south. Follow a narrow ridge to it.
If you spot random scraps of metal, and, eventually, a very smunched airplane, as you climb this ridge, on November 21, 1950, the plane crashed into the mountain, killing everyone aboard.
Who is Going to Love It
For beginning climbers unafraid of bushwhacking, this is a great way to reach Moran’s 12,605-foot summit. The climbing isn’t quite as elegant as that on the CMC,but this route doesn’t have the exposure the CMC does.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Like you’d do to get to the Skillet Glacier,you start at the String lake trailhead. Hike up the northern shore of String Lake to Leigh Lake. Follow the trail around Leigh Lake until it ends at Bearpaw Lake.From Bearpaw Lake, a faint trail heads north to Trapper Lake. From Trapper Lake, a faint trail continues north to Bearpaw Bay, part of Jackson Lake. Where you see the creek coming out of the Skillet, cross to the north side and generally follow it up. But not too far. You’re not climbing the Skillet but the ridge to its north.
Keep your eyes open towards this direction for a line you like up the hillside to the ridge. It’s your call as to when you want to head that way. There are some open slopes that are actually fairly easy walking, albeit steep. But we’ll take steep over avalanche deadfall any day! You can often piece together game trails from the Skillet Glacier basin up to the ridge.