Correction to Secor

Ritter North Face

by Jim Ramaker

Gathering at the Banner-Ritter saddle, David straightened out our confusion about the left- and right-hand gullies described in Secor -- the left-hand gully heads up from the highest snow of the North Ritter Glacier, while you enter the right-hand gully via a 30-foot long ledge leading right from about 100 feet below the highest snow. The glacier leading up to the gullies was icy, but again pitted with suncups and no more than 35 degrees steep, so a self-arrest would've been pretty easy.

I led up the right-hand gully, which gave us fun class 2-3 climbing on solid rock and rubble-covered ledges. With a bit of care, it was possible to climb without knocking anything down. At the top of the right-hand gully an arete leads left, and on the other side of it we were surprised to find a class-1 scree terrace. We strolled up that until it and the arete were blocked by a large tower. I climbed past the tower to the left and came to the top of the classic north face route, with its class 3-4 headwall and an ice-covered ramp leading up and left.

Paul checked to the right of the tower and found a broad class 2-3 gully leading up to the apparent summit. Could this be it? We scrambled up the gully and topped out at 11:30, just 20 feet left (east) of the summit. We were amazed at how easy the climb had been -- about 80% of the rock was really class 2, and there was not a single move I'd call exposed. Obviously, we went a different way from John Muir, approximately following the "Starr Variation" to the north face described in Secor.


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