On July 2nd of 2022 Nick and I rambled into the ledge basin looking for a small adventure close to home. We had skied past the "Foot-Ledge" Tower many times in the winter. I had also made several ski descents of the enjoyable couloir right next to it. We both thought that the North Face could likely hold potential for a new moderate rock route. From afar the rock seemed to be reasonably compact. After a spring of big storms the alpine still had above average snow levels. This meant we could plan on descending the couloir off of the summit rather than making rappels down the face.
We crested the broad shoulder just North of the Ledge Basin. From here we could see a moderate looking crack and chimney system which we decided to try and follow up the North face of the Foot-Ledge Tower. After a short glissade and plodding across the sun cupped basin we arrived at the base of the chimney and wide crack system. I precariously changed into rock shoes on the edge of the bergschrund before setting off.
Pitch one (5.7) started up a dank and mossy cave where I extended a #2 cam and traversed out left on sloping edges. The rock was actually quite compact but without much protection. I continued up pleasant hand sized cracks to the top of a small dihedral. After a 40-ish meter lead I trended left where I stopped and built an anchor at a comfortable coffee table sized ledge.
Nick set off on pitch two (5.7) up interesting mixed cracks before traversing back right over runout but compact stone back into the chimney system. This was the technical crux of the route. From here Nick ascended a short chimney then followed an interesting dyke to the belay. Nick placed some cams and one or two pins on this pitch.
I set off up pitch 3 (5.6). The crack and chimney system above consisted of fun edges and some loose rock. I also had to excavate some moss to find protection at times. I climbed up to a wide sloping ledge. Above me the wide crack steepend to near vertical with very poor rock quality. I deemed it unsafe for myself. I traversed right on the ledge and finally found a mediocre belay with one pin and a .75 BD Cam. Nick continued on pitch 4 (5.6) around the corner and up some easier face climbing to a spacious belay on the south side of the tower. In hindsight I should have continued around the corner because there was potential for a safer belay station.
On pitch 5 (5.7) I had the opportunity to climb to the top of a small tower and step across a wild and exposed gash above the North Face. From here I wandered up ledges on reasonably sound rock before climbing a wide crack to a nice belay where I could snap some photos of Nick on the cool tower. This pitch was pretty enjoyable.
Nick set out for the summit on pitch 6 (5.5) along some gravely ledges and easy face climbing before cresting onto the summit ridge which was actually quite enjoyable with excellent views. From here nick stretched the rope right to the summit and belayed me up. We both removed our climbing gear sat down and ate some food while reflecting on an interesting adventure right in our backyard. Soon enough we figured it was time to go. We cramponed down the North facing couloir on firm snow arriving back at the base in around 15 minutes. Funny how just 100 meters over we were moving slow and cautiously.
Nick and I decided to call our new route The Foot Ledge Tower North face because its close proximity to its much larger and more impressive sibling The North Face of Ledge. I would honestly not strongly recommend our new route because of the poor rock quality in spots. I hope that by writing this it will help answer someones questions about whether it is worthwhile to put up other summer routes in the Ledge basin. That said maybe there is some better quality rock climbing to be had on some of the steeper and more compact faces. I find that days like this are generally less about the climbing and more about the adventure with a good partner. Thank you Nick for your mentorship and patience with me while I continue to learn about moving efficiently on steep alpine terrain.
- SR - #2 BD
- A couple smaller cam
- 4-5 Pins
- 60m Rope
- Ice Axe/Crampons