“The position and views are 5 stars; however, the rock quality is often incredibly poor and protection is poor/sparse on many pitches. Overall I’d give it 2.5 to 3 stars. Fun, but long day. This a serious route: it’s very commiting, being nearly impossible to bail above P1. Once you get above P1, you better finish the route. That coupled with the loose rock and sparse/sketchy pro on many of the pitches made this a less than gentle “welcome back” climb to kick off alpine 2021 season. ?? That being said, where else can you get nearly 1,300 vertical feet of climbing with easy access?!” – Tobin on Peakbagger
- Ascent of Mount Washington on 2021-05-30 – Peakbagger.com
- ⭐⭐⭐ Mt Washington’s SE Ridge – Alpine Climbing in the Olympic Range — SIMMONS MOUNTAIN WORKS
- Rock Climb SE Ridge AKA Shield Wall, Olympics & Pacific Coast (mountainproject.com)
- Tobin – dmm offset nuts, BD cams from 0.3 to 3, supplemented with some trango flex cams. We thought this was perfect for this route.
Probably 1 mile, 2,000 ft gain
The approach trail is easy to find and is actually much more pleasant than the trail for the standard route. Still steep and a butt kicker though! It gains roughly 1600 ft of elevation to the bowl/Basin below the shield wall. We had some steep snow (May 30th) to contend with to get to the base of the route.
You’ll know you are at the base of P1 when you see a bolt about 30 ft up.
P1 – 5.5, 30m, 2 bolts
Follow the line of 2 bolts and belay at a 2 bolt anchor approximately 30m up. I couldn’t find any pro other than the 2 bolts.
P2-P4: follow the Ridge crest or just to the right of it. Rock quality and protection can be very sketchy at times, with the notable exception of P4, which had nice rock but not much protection. Each of those pitches are pretty long, anywhere from 50 to 55 m. Low 5th to 5.4.
P5 – 5.7
first crux pitch. Follow the Ridge crest or just to the right
P6 – 5.5
trend rightward. This pitch offers better rock, climbing and protection than the previous pitches. You will reach a large flat area where you can belay off a large rock horn.
P6 to P7
coil up the rope and walk to the base of a small stem chimney. This is the base of the parapet. Trend left and belay.
P7 – 5.6
Scramble & rappel 1
scramble down class 2 to a small notch, and then scramble up to the first rappel.
P8-P9: surmount the “first tower” via 2 short pitches. For p8, scramble very exposed 3rd class to the left and then retain the Ridge crest. P9 is 4th/low 5th.
You will find another rappel station. Rap approximately 30m down to the notch.
P10 – 5.5
climb to the top of the second tower.
P10 to P11
Scramble down to the notch, which is the base of the third tower.
climb 2 pitches to the top of the 3rd tower. P11 is low 5th. For p12, traverse out right from a small notch halfway up bad make some exposed and committing moves to the base of a Slab with a finger crack. This is the crux pitch, but it does offer the best gear of the entire route. 5.7+/5.8.
scramble down (or in our case, rappel down – we left fresh tat and a quick link, you are welcome in advance) to the next notch. This is the top of the Surprise couloir.
P13 – 5.5
climb straight up and belay off a bomber horn, which we equalized with a bomber cam.
Scramble to summit
From the top of 13, switch back into boots and scramble up a little bit to merge with the standard route. Easy scramble to the summit from here.
Follow the standard trail for Mt Washington. 1.4 miles, 3,200 ft descent.
Descent has a lot of steep snow (May 30th) to contend with right now. We rapped off a fat tree and my partner was nice enough to offer to let me off a full 60m on a single Strand off a bomber boot/axe belay, which I down climbed and then coiled up the rope, which saved a LOT of time! The rest of the descent was uneventful, albeit annoying due to all of the 3rd class root scrambling on the descent (aka standard route) trail.