Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  07/12/2020
Date Climbed:   07/11/2020
Author:  psa954hiker
 Lindsey NW ridge crux wall   

The main purpose of this report is to celebrate a great day in the mountains and to reduce some concerns about taking the NW ridge route. I'm not a big fan of exposure and we found the ridge to be very manageable and actually very enjoyable. But you do need some confidence in your climbing ability to make it so. Now, on to the report...

We arrived on Friday night around 8:30pm and found a great campsite exactly 1.0 miles from the trailhead. There were many others before that but this one was spacious, deserted and by the creek. At 3:00 am the next morning we broke camp, drove to the trailhead and began our hike at 4:00am. There were probably 5 vehicles at the trailhead on a weekend that was forecast to have perfect conditions. So I wouldn't count Lindsey as a highly trafficked mountain. We only encountered about 10-15 people all day, and we shared the summit with only 3 others.


Lindsey comes into view center left. Reminded me of the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

We got to the basin before sunrise and waited for the glorious view of Blanca and Ellingwood when the first rays of sun hit the east face.

This is what makes an early start such a joy.

At the saddle we took the classic photo of our destination.

At this point you know, if you didn't already, that this is going to be a climb not just a hike.

There may be a preferred approach to the ridge leading to the crux wall, but it wasn't obvious to us. We started climbing the rocky slope to the right about midway between the start of the rock bands and the crux wall. Here's a photo of the terrain at that point. Lots of fun scrambling.

Take your time here and enjoy it (unless you have a lightning storm approaching, in which case come back another day!).

So now we come to the crux wall, which was the part I researched a lot because I wasn't sure we were up for it. The exposure is ranked "high" on this route because of this section and we hadn't encountered that level before. The most challenging climbs we had to date were Longs, Sunlight and Sneffels. From a distance the crux wall looked worse, almost vertical.

But remember, photos usually make things look worse than they are once you get there. Note climber above center right for perspective.

Let me take you through the crux wall with some photos. First, here is the same photo with a white dot on the left and a yellow dot on the right. These are the locations of the photos to follow which I took as we ascended the class 3 route.


Now here is the photo showing the crux wall climbing options, with my two photo spots overlaid for perspective. The purple line to the left is the class 3 option.


Now, here is the yellow dot photo looking up toward the left. As you can see, this is nowhere near vertical. These are two climbers who had just descended from above and you can see they are standing on solid ground. In fact, this didn't feel like a "wall" at all to this point, just scrambling over rugged terrain.


So we climbed past the two guys up the class 3 route and looked back and took this picture from the white dot. For reference, the two climbers in the previous photo had been standing on the loose rock below, and I took the yellow dot photo about where you see the climber in the yellow shirt. As you can see, this is something of an avenue that you can walk up. Neither of us was freaked out by any exposure here. But it is legitimate class 3 so you will have some exposure and the need to use both hands and feet.

The ridge is very solid rock but still use a helmet. If nothing else it reminds you that you are climbing, not hiking.

After passing the white dot location you come to the left edge of the crux wall and need to take a sharp right and start climbing to the top. That moment when we got to the edge was the true crux for us because that's were the awareness of exposure hits you. What happens is that you realize you have open air both to the left and right, and a fall here would be serious. But what allows you to keep your head is the knowledge that you are still only on class 3 terrain with ample footholds and handholds. We just concentrated on the rock in front of us, keeping 3 points of contact and purposely making our way up. Here is a photo looking down from above that section and slightly away from the actual edge of the crux wall.

You see, lots of rock to grab onto.

After the crux wall, there is still class 3 scrambling to be done up to the false summit. Perhaps the best strategy is to get to the top of the ridge early on. We skirted the side of the ridge for a while and this kept the exposure level a bit higher, though never as much as at the crux wall edge. But we were trying to test ourselves at a higher level of exposure for future climbs so this was part of the plan.

Finally you get to the summit. Here is a photo of Little Bear, Blanca and Ellingwood in the distance. We were even treated to a close flyover of a small plane whose pilot tipped his wings at us in salute.

Not sure if we're ready for Little Bear and the Hourglass yet, but climbing Lindsey NW ridge definitely boosted our confidence.

We returned via the standard gully route. Fortunately we met some climbers who came up that way and they pointed us to the right gully to descend. Otherwise I might have taken the wrong one, my phone (and All Trails app) having died. Just pay attention to your app or map and don't descend too early. We backtracked almost to the false summit before descending. Also, the gully is loose rock all the way, but we hugged climber's right going down and it was much more stable and we didn't knock any rocks down on people. So it can be done.

All in all a great day in the mountains and a milestone for us. Hopefully this will help you decide if the NW ridge is for you.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Excellent report
07/13/2020 00:23
I have read quite a bit about Lindsey and this route.

But this is easily the best documented report of this route I have read.

The photos really complement your narrative, and the white/yellow dots for reference was an excellent idea.
Thank you

07/13/2020 13:33
Thanks ItlFish99 for the encouragement. It is gratifying to know the report is helpful for others. NW ridge really is a great route to prepare for some of the harder peaks so I hope more people will try it once they have some experience on class 2 and easy 3 routes.

Good Beta
07/17/2020 09:36
Thanks for taking the time to detail this part of the route. With this knowledge I feel confident enough to try it out this weekend.

Glad to hear it
07/17/2020 11:06
KRBoyce I think you are going to love it. Just take your time on the crux and you'll do fine.

Great Report
07/20/2020 20:33
I like your white and yellow dot idea. Sometimes the perspectives in pictures are hard to anticipate because it looks so different than the picture. Do most people go down the gully instead of going back over the ridge? We are going down for this one this weekend so thanks for the info. Looking forward to see how it compares to Little Bear and others. Looks fun!

No problem for you
07/20/2020 21:22
arianna2 I think if you've done Little Bear already then this will be a walk in the park, but still fun. I haven't done LB yet and thought Lindsey would be good practice to get closer to that level. As for descending we saw several climbers coming down the ridge to avoid the loose gully. Maybe 50% did that. That certainly is fine if you can down climb class 3 or 4. We took the gully to see what it was like and thought it wasn't all that bad if you stay away from the loose center.

good perspective
07/26/2020 20:32
I like how you throw sunlight out there nonchalantly as if that summit block isn't terrifying. Did you feel like the ridge would be a bit sketch downclimbing or just wanted to see what the gully had to offer?

07/26/2020 20:55
Tartay I confess I only touched the top of the summit block on Sunlight. Couldn't bring myself to actually get my whole body up there, hence the comment that the exposure wasn't too bad (up until then). As for downclimbing Lindsey we wanted to see what the gully was like. It wouldn't have been too bad coming down the ridge. Several climbers did that.

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