Peak(s):  Saint Sophia Ridge  -  13,060 feet
Date Posted:  08/07/2007
Date Climbed:   08/05/2007
Author:  san juaneer
 East Face / North Ledges - 5.7  

from 12,260‘ in Governor Basin
East Face couloir (5.0)
to North Ledges (5.7)
.66 mi. RT
w/ Jamie Princo

Jamie came out to visit for the week and we were able to get in some good fifth class peaks desite the monsoonal moisture. We made Dallas Pk. (5.4), S.Lookout Pk. (5.0), Saint Sophia Ridge (5.7), but backed off from the summit ridge on Coxcomb due to inclement weather at 8:00am yesterday morning. All in all, a productive week by our standards.

After a rest day on Saturday, we headed up into Governor basin from Yankee Boy out of Ouray. We passed the turn-off for the Mountain Top mine and parked the Tundra at 12,260‘ directly East of the highest tower along a massive ridge of many towers. We set our sights on the highest point between the Mendota saddle to the South, and the Emma saddle to the North. We started up a grassy chute through minor cliffbands to the NW, arriving at a grassy bench. From there we turned back to the SW over talous flows to the foot of the summit cliffs. Nothing appeared promising or inviting above and to the West. We moved upward hoping for the best.

Some rubble covered ledges made entrance to a hidden couloir we were pleased to find just to the right of our intended summit, so we set in for the task. It turned into a rotten yellow flume that moved right initially, and then left to an option. Right looked good further up, but not at this point, we moved left for ten feet, and then traversed back to the right on a scree covered ledge and back into the rotten yellow couloir. It was good enough for the next forty feet, but littered with giant death crackers poised to release if given any encouragement. We tried our best to abstain.

At the top of the flume we were presented with a large rotten yellow step in the flume, and could proceed no further in that direction. The notch in the ridge was only thirty feet above us. Not to be dissuaded, I set a three point anchor in the "more" solid rock to the left and Jamie clipped in. I tied into my 50m Single rope, and headed out right into some 5.0 exposed loosely stacked crackers I hope never to see again and climbed about 25‘ unprotected right around a boulder and then left up to a semi-solid wall (right) just below the notch, where I was able to again place a solid three point anchor. I reeled Jamie in, and then he swung the lead up to a horn atop the unclimbable yellow flume where he set his first anchor, and then reeled me in.

Safely on the ridge, we contemplated the summit tower. It stood about sixty feet tall and was composed of the same fractal yellow crap we‘d already seen enough of. No tape would protect our tender little hands in the nice looking hand cracks on both the North and East faces. I slung the horn there for a belay anchor as well as a rap anchor for our retreat, and moved into position. We turned our focus from the cracks toward two little leaning towers on the North face. I stemmed up the first and then stepped up onto the second. I had feared this spot would be stagnant, but a perfect foot pocket revealed itself at knee height, and offered me further passage. After cleaning lots of rocks from a potential fist crack, I jammed and moved upward again. Now placed between to blocky outcrops, I felt much less exposed and ready to proceed. Protection had been plentiful thus far, and only Twelve feet remained. I stepped up onto the rightern block, reached over a chockstone for my next hold and moved up to the last ledge. A thin rib made for the last exposed pull up to the summit block which appeared completely undisturbed by human activity. The rocks all had beautiful bright orange lichens facing the sky.

Our we sure this thing has been visited before? I quickly built a cairn, and backed off to the last ledge where I could sling a crumbling block for rappel, and backed it with a couple of cams for Jamies ascent. He climbed like a champ and soon passed me by for the summit. We snapped some photos, and then I made ready for my rappel. I cleaned the cams, and rapped the face and got out my camera to take pictures of Jamies rap. Drizzle had been sporadic, but not too unnerving. There was no way to successfully toss the rope down the spiral couloir, so I packed the tails in my pack for a slow unfurling. Once off rap, eighty feet below, I waited for jamie at the "option" spot. Once he was down, I had to upclimb 30‘ or so to pull the rope, There was too much friction on the rope around the spiral. In the end it pulled and I downclimbed the rest. As we reached terra firma, the rains came, and we were soggied on the way to the truck.

Not even the rains could dampen our spirits after this success. That was a doozey!!! It‘s hard to put this one in my list of recommendations given its dangerous nature, but I know some will surely follow, and the least I can do is to offer this as knowledge for those who may wish to follow.
My rack was composed of every camalot from #.2 - #3, and I used them all.


 Comments or Questions

Awesome job guys...
08/08/2007 16:19
Aaron - I never realized that the san juaneer was you! Thanks for writing up this nice TR. I imagine it may come in handy one of these days.


Nicely done!
08/28/2008 00:37
Too bad about Coxcomb. I was weathered off that one as well, but it will be there next time! Nice to see some obscure peaks written up!


11/30/2010 17:28
I still can't believe you and jamie actually made the summit of that thing! From the pictures Jamie sent me, that ridge looks angry and pissed-off most of the time. I think Sophia Ridge probably makes up for Coxcomb, and then some!
Congrats on attaining a summit that probably hasn't seen anyone in over 10 years!

02/05/2011 00:22
read your TR, just read Jamie's TR, now it seems like there should be one more...? Has anyone seen Kiefer? Congrats on getting this one guys. A successful week indeed! Nice job!

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