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 Peak(s):  Pagoda Mtn  -  13,497 feet
 Post Date:  07/26/2013
 Date Climbed:   07/21/2013
 Posted By:  Furthermore

 North Buttress on Pagoda     


Pagoda Mountain 13,497


July 21, 2013
~14.6 Miles, ~5,400 Gain
TH: Glacier Gorge Trailhead.
Max difficulty: 5.7
Route: North Buttress 5.7, 5-6 pitches. III.


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For a summer ascent of Pagoda, the North Buttress looked like a fine alpine rock climb option. Meeting with hardly any sleep at a Park 'n Ride off of US36, Tom and I carpooled to the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. The parking lot was a popular place as there were several parties of climbers organizing their gear at this ridiculous hour.

We started our long hike up the basin at 3:00 AM where we encountered three parties heading towards Spearhead. After reaching Black Lake, we followed a less traveled trail towards Green Lake and then no trail to the base of Pagoda's North Buttress. To reach the base of the North Buttress we had to climb ~200-300 feet up the scree gully leading up to the Longs-Pagoda Saddle and then traverse to the base of the buttress just above a dark band of rock.

McHenrys early light.
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Elk below Green Lake.
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Alpenglow on McHenrys
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Profile view of Pagoda's North Buttress.
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As I was opening my backpack, my helmet fell off and started rolling down the hill. The helmet rolled down the mountain for at least 100 feet before stopping on a small ledge. If the helmet hadn't stopped on the ledge, it would have certainly rolled to the valley floor. I just needed some extra exercise anyways.

After gearing up, Tom and I started up the climb at 7:30 AM. Tom took the first 5.5 pitch up some beautiful flakes on the edge of the arete. He quickly stopped at a small ledge below a small dihedral and brought me up. Reading reports on Mountain Project, it appeared several people had problems with the short dihedral above us. Some went right up a small crack but said the climbing felt harder than 5.7 with poor pro.

Tom preparing for the first pitch.
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Tom taking the lead on pitch 1.
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Looking down from the grassy ledge at the start of the climb.
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Glacier Gorge.
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Tom nearing the top of pitch 1.
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Looking down pitch 1.
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Since it was my lead, I decided to take the left option up the dihedral. The climbing up the dihedral was 5.7 with one tricky move exiting a small roof but the protection was good. I quickly moved up the dihedral to easier 5.6 slab climbing and belayed at decent ledge.

Looking down a slabby section of pitch 2.
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Tom finishing pitch 2.
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Tom followed and we swapped leads again. The third pitch consisted of mostly 5.6 slab climbing leading us closer to the base of a large gold colored headwall. For our 4th pitch, I scrambled up easy 5.4 terrain and then traversed to the base of the headwall. Since our 4th pitch was short, I took the lead for the 5th crux pitch, 5.7, going up broken bands just to the left of the gold headwall.

Tom reading about pitch 3.
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Tom starting up pitch 3.
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Tom working his way up our short pitch 4.
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I combined pitches 5 and 6 since we had a 70M rope. After the initial broken bands at the start up the headwall, the climbing eased to a 5.5 chimney climb. Some loose blocks lurked in the chimney and I belayed at a decent ledge at the top of the chimney with only 5 feet of rope to spare. When Tom arrived at the belay station he started leading up the final ridge. He only went about 50 feet before we decided to un-rope. The rest of the climbing to the summit was 4th class.

Looking up the steep crux on pitch 5.
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Looking down pitch 5.
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Nearing to top of pitch 5.
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Longs from the top of pitch 5.
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Tom finishing the chimney on pitch 5.
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Tom finishing the chimney on pitch 5.
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Chiefs Head from the top of pitch 5.
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An enjoyable solid rock led us to a wonderful crescent ridge to the summit of Pagoda where we arrived at 12:30 PM and spent almost 45 minutes soaking in the views of Chiefs Head and Longs. We descended Pagoda's class 2 talus east ridge to the Longs-Pagoda saddle and from the saddle, descended down obnoxious scree/talus back towards Green Lake.

Longs on the class 4 ridge.
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Tom working his way up the crescent ridge.
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Tom working his way up the crescent ridge.
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Chiefs Head from the summit.
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Longs from the summit.
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The hike was a long hike back to the trailhead where I was overwhelmed with the number of people. That perhaps will be the last time I do anything in the Park on a weekend. The last 2 miles were especially brutal weaving through hoards of people. We arrived back at the car at 4:45 PM, started our drive through tourist ridden Estes, and then had a delicious beer at Oscar Blues.

Route Topo.
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The Beta:
Traverse to the base of the buttress above a dark colored rock band on a small grassy ledge to the edge of the buttress.
Pitch 1: Climb up the arete on solid granite flakes and belay on a small ledge below a dihedral. ~150 feet. 5.5.
Pitch 2: From the belay, head left into the dihedral and climb up the dihedral through a small roof. After the small roof, climb on slabs to a belay ledge. ~150 feet. 5.7.
Pitch 3: Continue up the buttress on the left side up through some slabs. Aim for the base of the golden headwall. ~180 feet. 5.6
Pitch 4: Traverse up to the base of the headwall and belay on the left edge of golden headwall. ~120 feet. 5.4
Pitch 5: Although steep, climb up broken bands through the left side of the golden headwall. Belay below a chimney. ~100 feet. 5.7
Pitch 6: Chimney climb to where the ridge eases. Watch for plenty of loose rock. ~120 feet. 5.5

Climb a solid class 4 ridge to the summit.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (6)
bergsteigen


Nice Work!     2013-07-26 11:48:34
I'll have to keep this route in mind, as I get to be a better trad climber!


SchralpTheGnar


dope yo     2013-07-26 11:48:56
that's a sweet tr, yo, we did pagoda from the south side up the crescent ridge in late sept. last year and the entire north face was covered in snow\ice, looked burly, so I'm impressed. Pagoda is a great option in rmnp for some less crowded alpine rock.


Dave B


Very cool!     2013-07-26 14:00:23
This one is on my ”wants-ta” list for the summer. Looks like an awesome route.


Taillon75


Awesome.     2013-07-27 08:54:14
Great Pics!


rickinco123


Beta reading pic is awesome.     2013-07-27 11:00:10
This happens on routes all the time, sometimes just to settle nerves, but infrequently makes it into trip reports. Love it.


d_baker


style     2013-07-28 06:39:53
I like yours. You're riding out some of your final 13ers with some fantastic style! Way to go Derek! I'm routing for you man.



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