Correction to Secor

Scimitar Pass

by Peter Maxwell

We attempted to reconcile what we were looking at on the ridge leading up to Scimitar Pass, and the description in Secor saying to "head for the flat spot on the ridge". What flat spot? We saw several, all accessible only by climbing what looked like cliff faces. Well, oftentimes perfectly climbable faces look impossible from a distance, so we'd wait and see.

We headed out over the boulder fields. When we crested over the first hump we could see the snowfield and glacier that had been hidden at camp, barring our way to the ridge. Our route was going to be determined by what we could do with no ice axe or crampons, rather than what looked the best rock.

We picked what looked to have the shallowest angle at the top, kicking steps as the slope increased, but it soon became apparent we couldn't keep going as the snow was getting harder and the final bit was still in shadow, ensuring a hard, slick surface. We downclimbed a little, then traversed to a point where the snow had been in the sun longer and ascended again. This took us to a bergshrund which had to be negotiated, and the final exit from the snow was pretty steep (around 40 degrees or so). We didn't want to go back down that way. However, we weren't the first people to be there, as we saw a rappel sling attached to a rock right where we left the snow.

Leaving the snow was the beginning of the next challenge. Every rock we put our hand on came loose. This was some of the worst loose, unreliable rock that I've ever had the misfortune to climb on. Some class 5 moves were necessary on our way up the face to the ridge top, totally unprotected of course as there was nothing to get any pro into. No matter how careful we were, we couldn't help dislodging stuff as we climbed.

The correct way back was a breeze. The snow was very deeply sun cupped so we had to be careful, but the slope was relatively gentle and posed no problems. Our route took us around the prow of the ridge, through what is effectively a gap, since the ridge continues on the other side of this gap for a way. I think a better description for the ascent from Elinore Lake is not to hear for a flat spot, but to head around the prow of the ridge, through the obvious gap there. The photo from page 181 in R.J. Secor's book and it also appears on page 214 of the 2nd Edition.

The information provided in these pages is provided by interested volunteers and has not been field checked. R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers, the Sierra Club and are in no way responsible for the accuracy of any route advice on this web site. Safe climbers must be able to understand the terrain and topography of the area they travel in, and they must make wise route finding choices based their own knowledge, experience and observations.