Mt. Toll Trip Report
North Ridge, 5.7 (5.8?),
~7 miles, ~2800 ft elevation
The North Ridge on Mt.
Toll is described as a classic route in Jerry Roach's Indian Peaks
guide and has been on my laundry list for a year or so now. I
had originally planned to try this climb with Dave Pneuman a month or
so ago but reports of icy conditions made it to soon . I then
meant to try it again a couple days ago but one of my ribs was still
bothering me from a mishap I had in Peru so I had to cancel.
Oddly enough I woke up Friday morning, July 28th, 2006 and
felt pretty good. I had already had a partner lined up for
the weekend (met on Summipost
and decided to give the North Ridge a shot. I was pretty
honest that my rib might make the whole thing a pointless endeavor but
wanted to get out and see how I felt anyways. Fortunately the
guy I was talking to, Chris, was OK with the plan.
We spoke on the phone briefly about what gear to bring and then I had a
quick dinner and turned in. I woke up and headed over to
Chris's house at 5:00- AM Saturday, July 29th, 2006. We
introduced ourselves and it turns out that Chris is also from the east
coast. HE was a Philly native who lived in New Jersey for
most of his life and came to Colorado to attend the School of Mines.
His fiance will be joining him shortly and they ultimately
plan on moving to South America. Chris had been climbing in
Peru several times and had been rock climbing for ~10 years so I didn't
see any real problem in trying an alpine route with him for the first
After we double checked our rack (cams from a blue Alien to a number 9
metolius, set of nuts, a few tri-cams, 60 meter rope, 6 24 inch slings,
4 48 inch slings, 6 12 inch draws) we got in the truck and headed off.
When we arrived at Brainard lake the gate house was closed
and I didn't have change to pay the fee so I headed in. What
happens in this case is they leave you a ticket saying pay the entrance
fee before the house closes (6 PM) and you won't get a ticket.
We parked at the Mitchell Lake trailhead and headed towards Mt. Toll
around 6:30. I'd been up Toll before so was familiar with the
route. On the way we stopped and chatted with a couple guys
in their 40s (?) who were aiming for the same route. I've
found that if a guy is over 40 and aiming for a technical route and
from the Boulder area, it is generally OK to let them have the first
shot at the wall so we ultimately slowed down and let them pass us.
The trail to Toll is
very easy and consists of following a dirt path 90
percent of the way. After you pass three lakes you finally
have to get
off the trail and scramble up some talus. I had been told that there
was a clear path of the boulders with no snow so we hiked up in approach
shoes. I was still feeling kind of sick from Peru so was
but the weather was cooperative and there was no rush. After
a bit of
scrambling we finally made our way up to the ridge and the base of the
climb. The North Ridge is the obvious feature in the picture
above which ends in a huge ledge. At the base of the climb we
found the two guys had decided to start on a line far to the right of
ours which allowed us to both start at the same time.
Started To Climb Here
Climbing the North Ridge
is not an exact science and many lines are possible. With
careful route finding you can keep the climbing to mostly 5.4 with a
move or two of 5.6. If you start right on the ridge itself as
opposed to about 20 or 30 feet to the right you can find a good bit of
5.9 and harder climbing. If you move far to the right the
climb can get even easier. I had been planning on following
the line a few guys I knew had taken a week ago but wasn't trying to
hard to be precise about it.
Starting Pitch Two
We started out on a left leaning corner/crack that was pretty easy and
well protected. I lead the first pitch and started up the corner.
After awhile I came to a big old ledge but there was a lot of
rope left so kept going. I angled right and climbed a slab of
rock to the right of a brighter section of rock with a thin streak in
it. At this point things steepened and I found myself on a
more vertical face and had to make a couple committing 5.7 moves.
If you want to stay at 5.6 or below make sure you go to the
left at the first ledge and pick an easier way.
Just past the 5.7 moves I found myself on a huge ledge with a boulder
which was perfect for setting an anchor on. I threw a couple
nuts and a tri-cam in and clipped a cam that someone had left stuck and
belayed Chris up. I'd say this pitch was ~150 feet and
started at 5.4 but had a good bit of 5.6 and 5.7.
As Chris was climbing I
noticed a party of three at the base who I later found out was Kevin
Craig and his Wife Diana along with their friend Meredith.
Kevin had climbed the route the prior week and given me Beta but
was returning to climb it with his wife. Chris reached my
position in good time and we swapped gear.
I looked up and noticed the other guys on the wall had
contoured way to the left of their original line and were directly
above us so we hung out and chatted while they climbed. After
they were up and away Chris took off on a crack to the left of the
corner pictured above. He climbed up through some ledges and
cracks until; coming to a big corner with a roof. After
setting some pro he moved easily through the roof and called for me to
More climbing For The
The climbing in this stretch was pretty straightforward and probably
5.4-5.5 with a 5.6 move here and there up until the corner with the
roof. When I gained the corner I realized the whole area was
totally covered in lichen and many of the holds were loose and dirt
filled. Now I am an OK climber, not great and not terrible.
My general affinity is for faces and cracks and my weaknesses
are slabs. My absolute greatest weakness however is roofs, I
can't pull them, I hate them, an Toll taught me that I need to get out
and top rope a lot of them because I could not make the move.
I tried about three times and it just wasn't happening so I
pulled out a set of tieblocks and climbed the rope. I know
'pure' rock climbers would count the trip as a failed ascent but my goal
is to summit and I was happy with getting out of that nasty, dirty
Since I ended up having
to physically haul myself up over the edge without the use of
ascenders I was pretty tired and needed a gu shot and a breather before
continuing on. Chris was kind enough to provide me with the
gu. Having been told that we could scramble along the ledge
to the right and find a purely 4th class system we coiled the rope
and headed on.
Navajo and Dickers Peck
After a bit of walking we saw what was an obvious gully
and started up it. After a little bit it became pretty
obvious that it wasn't 4th class (the pin in the 5th class chimney gave
it away). As the fall potential where we were was death we
opted to re-rope. I threw in a couple cams to set up an
anchor and then belyed Chris up. When it was my turn I just
kept going on rope until we were past any more climbing. My
last mini-pitch was mostly 4th class but the line I took had some
5.easy thrown in so I tossed a piece or two in for safety. At
the top of my pitch I brought Chris up and we packed up and scrambled
100 feet to the summit.
We hung out for a bit
and enjoyed the views before heading down. The climb down
Toll starts out on talus which eventually leads to a snowfield.
We crossed over the snow and then climbed, scrambled, and
bushwhacked back to the left side of the lake.
Obligatory Marmot Shot
The hike out was pleasant
and uneventful until I twisted my ankle five minutes from the parking
lot. Hopefully it will heal enough that I can climb longs
Peak this week. Chris turned out to be a great and safe
partner. Hopefully we'll get out on rock, ice, and snow quite
a bit before he is finished with graduate school.
Mt. Toll, North Ridge on
right, descent on left
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