North Ridge of Mt. Conness (TR with pics)

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Andrew F

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 27, 2009 - 04:38pm PT
North Ridge of Mt. Conness (TR)

This weekend my wife (Ellen) and I climbed the N. Ridge of Mt. Conness. We got exactly what we were looking for: a long, beautiful day in the mountains with tons of climbing and tons of exposure.

We were awake at 5:00 and on the trail around Saddlebag Lake at 6:15.


The approach past Conness Lakes is very pristine and beautiful. We both agreed it would be a worthy objective just for the hike in, even without the climbing.


We reached the saddle in the north ridge marking the start of the route at around 10:00.


The ridge is like a sidewalk in the sky. 2nd class turns to 3rd as the ridge gradually steepens and narrows.


We went a little too far right at the first tower, and ended up on top of a 15' 5th-class downclimb. Ellen downclimbed with a quick belay, and I rappelled off a slung horn. A few flicks of the rope and we had our rappel sling back & were on our way.


A few minutes later we were on top of the 2nd tower at ~12,000 feet. The climbing goes very quickly, almost as fast as walking on flat ground. Neither of us were very well acclimatized though, having driven from San Jose 12 hours prior, and so there was lots of 'take 10 steps, then wheeze for 30 seconds.'


The exposure really starts kicking in at the 2nd tower...you've got 400 feet down to the glacier on your left, and 1000 feet down to Roosevelt Lake on your right, with just your four paws keeping you attached to this world.


Looking back at the 2nd tower from the final ridge. We did the two rappels, but the 5.6 downclimb looked pretty reasonable.


After the rappels, the climbing gets a little steeper and turns to 4th class. We caught up to two friendly Canadian guys at this point who were pitching it out along the true ridge. Growing storm clouds to the east suggested a hasty finish to the route, and we did a variation about 50 yards to the right of the ridge to pass. We did a few quick pitches until the angle eased back a little and soloed the 4th class the rest of the way to the top. All of the rock up there is climbable and our variation had a fun section where you had to 'walk the plank' on a narrow crack splitting a 60 degree slab for about 40' with Roosevelt Lake far, far below.

And then we were on top!


The summit had the best views of any I've seen in Yosemite. Conness isn't the tallest mountain, but it's the tallest mountain near by, so you get an uninterrupted 360-degree view of the whole park and beyond. Half dome is visible down in the valley; Tenaya Lake, Cathedral Peak, Fairview Dome, Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, North Peak, and the White Mountains (now covered in thunderheads...time to go down!)


The descent (which is also the approach for the W. Ridge & Harding Route) was long and we questioned the sanity of those who would walk up such a thing to climb 5.10 offwidth at 12,000 feet. The mosquitoes had prepared a warm welcome for us in the valley below.


And of course, no visit to Tuolumne would be complete without dinner at the Mobil Mart...


and a swim in Tenaya Lake.


Many props to Ellen, who pushed us to solo 95% of the route (who did I marry!?) to make sure we'd get off before bad weather came through. The next day we did some yoga on the slabs above Olmsted Point to stretch out the muscles & round out the weekend. Yet another great weekend confirming that Tuolumne is my favorite place on the earth.

Andrew

EDIT: I uploaded a video from the summit to YouTube: [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB-GBPM-Nd8"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB-GBPM-Nd8
[/url]
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Jul 27, 2009 - 04:41pm PT
Good job Andrew!!
I love climbing threads!!

That approach from Saddlebag is so freekin' great isn't it?

I've done the Harding route once, but have done that approach a couple times. I love that place!!

Thanks for all the great pics!
Redwreck

Social climber
Echo Parque, Los Angeles, CA
Jul 27, 2009 - 04:42pm PT
Great report and pics! Thanks for posting.

I got my ass kicked really badly by altitude sickness trying to do that climb straight out of the car from San Francisco. Gotta get back up there one of these days.
rhyang

climber
SJC
Jul 27, 2009 - 04:49pm PT
Nice work ! Gotta do that one again ..

Sunday we hiked up to look at the approach for the West Ridge .. the storm clouds gathered more quickly than Saturday. We bailed back to the cars before 2pm .. within 30 minutes it was raining.
Mike.

climber
Jul 27, 2009 - 04:51pm PT
Great photos and write-up of a classic. Thanks for posting.

I haven't done a great number of Sierra ridge climbs, but NRMC stands out as quality. Minimal loose, great position, super-fun easy climbing. Though it's shorter than the West Ridge, I think it's a better route.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jul 27, 2009 - 04:53pm PT
so bumpable, it is beyond bump
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
Great report, good pictures, brought me back there...I love that route...
salad

climber
Escondido
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:21pm PT
super fun!!
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:23pm PT
Nice photos!

I was in the team of three that did the west ridge and saw you guys when I topped out. Fun day, we really scored on the weather!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:25pm PT
Nice TR and photos - thanks for sharing.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:33pm PT
Great post. I'm thinking of doing the route with my daughters this Saturday, if the weather will cooperate. Would a party of three be too many?

JOhn
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Jul 27, 2009 - 05:39pm PT
Being a roadside cragger, I admire your gusto on these things....

Bravo and thanks for the TR.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 27, 2009 - 06:39pm PT

Tanks for posting this. One of my favorite days in the mtns even though, like you two, I got hit by the altitude, maybe a little harder.

Oh and this pic?!!



Beauty!

Dudeman

Trad climber
California/Idaho/Beyond
Jul 27, 2009 - 06:46pm PT
Very nice report and photos! Sounds like you both had a great trip. Makes me want to visit the area.
micronut

Trad climber
fresno, ca
Jul 27, 2009 - 06:47pm PT
Bravo!
You kids did it in great style and kept the shutter clicking too. Thanks for the great shots. Proud.
J. Werlin

climber
Cedaredge
Jul 27, 2009 - 07:39pm PT
Nice go, thanks for posting!
nutjob

climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 27, 2009 - 08:08pm PT
This route is close to my heart, probably the same for almost anyone who has climbed it! Good job, great pics :)
nutjob

climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 28, 2009 - 12:55am PT
Definitely take care on that descent... first time I followed a few people and it was spicy but manageable. Second time I had to find it on my own, and we had an epic descending avalanching steep-angled talus choss, kinda scary with every step dislodging a LOT of stuff. I probably went different variations, and will probably find a third variation on accident next time I'm up there.
davidji

Social climber
CA
Jul 28, 2009 - 12:56am PT
Nice pix Andrew, thanks!

Makes me want to go back up there.
apogee

climber
Jul 28, 2009 - 12:59am PT
Yay for a great mountain TR....

Years ago, I soloed the North Ridge, then descended to the west and soloed the West Ridge, then headed out towards Saddlebag. One of my all time best days in the mountains. Conness is the best!
John Moosie

climber
Beautiful California
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:06am PT
Anymore pics from the top. I love that place.
Omot

Trad climber
The here and now
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:12am PT
Ditto! Great TR.

Tomo
Card-carrying member of the I love Mt. Conness club.
TLloyd-Davies

Trad climber
Santa Clara, ca
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:13am PT
Awesome TR, really inspirational to get out there and see it for myself!

it was nice meeting you guys at the meeting as well! Have fun

-Tommy
Guernica

climber
s x sw
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:43am PT
Good work indeed! Thanks for sharing.
Dirka

Trad climber
SF
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:45am PT
Super route, and a fine TR. Thanks.
Andrew F

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 28, 2009 - 01:46am PT
Here's a video from the top: [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB-GBPM-Nd8"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB-GBPM-Nd8
[/url]

Thanks for all the positive comments. I have a feeling this will be one of those routes like Cathedral that you find yourself doing over and over again. We'll be back soon to do the West Ridge as everybody speaks highly of that route as well. The descent was definitely a bit tricky & I was glad that our light alpine rack included a handful of ibuprofen. It'd be hard to get truly lost (just aim downhill!) but it's easy to waste a whole bunch of time.

John- if your daughters are comfortable on exposed 3rd class, the only part you need to rope up for is the rappels & the final stretch to the summit (maybe 4-5 pitches if you pitched it all out?) Otherwise it would be a long day.

Nice meeting you Tommy- how did your trip to Tuolumne go?
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 28, 2009 - 01:48am PT
Great TR, many props for gettin er done!

Pristine comes to mind.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 28, 2009 - 02:23am PT

Hey Apogee or others who can compare the North and West ridges:
How much more serious did the West ridge feel as a solo than the North? How would the West ridge stack up to Tenaya, or Cathedral? Much more exposed or harder? I know I know, go find out for myself, but any input appreciated.
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jul 28, 2009 - 02:30am PT
love that route! Great TR.

Thanks for the effort at posting that. I enjoyed that route with my wife and felt a tad sick to my stomach on the summit. She felt fine. typical...10 yr anniv. next month!
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Jul 28, 2009 - 02:50am PT
west ridge is easier as you go up. Down low is the tough part and i think it can be made easier by moving left....anyone confirm that?
cleo

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Jul 28, 2009 - 12:51pm PT
yes, very fun, one of my favorite climbs!
top step

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Jul 30, 2009 - 03:18pm PT
John-
Three people might make for a very long day if you rope up for much. But if youíre comfortable on 3rd and 4th class, youíll be fine. Sounds like a great adventure! We got hung up (and spent too much time) at two spots in particular, on the climb.

The first was at the first tower. The topo says to go through the right most notch to the left of the first tower. It was easy getting through the notch, but then it puts you above some sketchy, loose-looking, 15 ft, 4th class down-climb. It just looked like loose blocks stacked end on end. We watched some people just traverse down to the left, below the notches and it looked very straightforward. (There was also a kind of obvious path going that way)

The second place was at the second tower rappel. When youíre looking down from the first set of rap anchors, you want to go way left, basically right next to the ridge. The obvious rappel is to go straight down the chimney below the slings, but this puts you about 40 feet to the right (looking down) of the second set of slings. The group in front of us belayed each other horizontally to the second anchor. We did some sketchy down climbing.

Hope you have a great trip! I already canít wait to get back out there. Looking at doing the West Ridge in the next few weeks.
-Ellen
burp

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Jul 30, 2009 - 03:38pm PT
Nice!

Is that the buffalo meatloaf I see there? Tried it for the first time last summer ... can still taste it ... in a good way ... good stuff!

burp
Andrew F

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 30, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
Buffalo meatloaf, lobster taquitos and chocolate cake with raspberry sauce. I've looked at that picture a good 10 times now and it still makes me hungry.
apogee

climber
Jul 30, 2009 - 03:43pm PT
le bruce, the West Ridge is similar to the steeper sections of the North Ridge, just quite a bit longer. That said, it is very moderate climbing, and there are lots of variations to make it as exciting as you like. Staying right (along the edge where you can look down the SW face) provides the best value, with cleaner rock, and an airy feeling.
rhyang

climber
SJC
Jul 30, 2009 - 03:56pm PT
After trudging up a good bit of the West Ridge approach with rope & gear & an out of shape partner, I'm starting to think soloing it is the way to go ..
Andrew F

Trad climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 30, 2009 - 03:58pm PT
You basically climb it twice to do the W. Ridge car-to-car.. up to (100 ft below) the summit via E. Ridge then down to the base of the climb, climb the W. Ridge then down the E. Ridge back to the car. Sounds like a long day. We're gonna do it from the other side & stay overnight at Roosevelt Lake in a few weeks.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 30, 2009 - 04:11pm PT

Thanks, apogee.
rhyang

climber
SJC
Jul 30, 2009 - 06:08pm PT
The overnight approach sounds like the way to go if bringing gear .. I might end up doing that too ..
caughtinside

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jul 30, 2009 - 06:57pm PT
Le Bruce, you could solo the West no prob. It is harder than the North and Tenaya, but easier than Cathedral.

As mentioned, tending left makes it mostly 4th but the rad exposure is right.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 30, 2009 - 07:41pm PT
I love trip reports! That's a great route and, you're right, that approach by itself is a great and scenic appetizer. Thanks for taking me back.
jbar

Social climber
urasymptote
Jul 30, 2009 - 09:02pm PT
Great TR. I was almost out there with you guys that day but chose a different trip. Seems like you got yourself a good woman. Got to cherish those times spent out there together!
Rankin

climber
North Carolina
Jul 30, 2009 - 10:11pm PT
Great TR! Doesn't get any better than Mt. Conness.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jul 30, 2009 - 11:32pm PT
great photos. i just added it here
http://www.supertopo.com/rock_climbing/route_beta.php?r=tuconort
F10

Trad climber
e350
Jul 31, 2009 - 11:32am PT
Thanks for sharing,

I have to go back and do it again, super fun
Esparza

Trad climber
Westminster, CA
Jul 31, 2009 - 04:52pm PT
Beautiful Pics. Thanks for posting! Mike
kev

climber
CA
Jul 31, 2009 - 04:56pm PT
Hey you two,

Nice job! Dinner at the mobile station says one thing....Class!

Hope you have a good weekend.

kev
le_bruce

climber
Oakland: what's not to love?
Jul 31, 2009 - 06:40pm PT
Bump for:

-Great TR
-Reminder that every day we're closer to the closure of 120!!!1!1!
-Thanks to caughtinside for comparison input.
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Aug 1, 2009 - 04:25pm PT
Nice pics and TR! Such a fun route with great views. Congratulations!

(BTW -- for a longer adventure one can combine the N Ridges on N Peak and Conness)

Le Bruce -- agreed with Caughtinside that the W Ridge on Conness is harder than N Ridge on Conness and NW Butt on Tenaya (haven't been up Cathedral SE Butt in yrs, so can't say). The N Ridge on Conness seemed mellow in approach shoes (ditto for that on N Pk). I was happy to be wearing rock shoes for the 1st several pitches on the W Ridge on Conness (gets easier as one gets higher).
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Aug 2, 2009 - 03:19am PT
hey there say, andrew F.... oh my! really nice trip report... sure wish i could get the pics to download faster....

thanks for the share... lots of nice shares, in fact, going on here, in this post/thread...

thanks everyone... god bless!
Dirka

Trad climber
SF
Aug 14, 2011 - 02:44am PT
SSSSSSUUUUUUUUPERB!
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