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[TR] Little Big Chief - Northwest Face / Falcon Route


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My friend Danyon and I climbed the NW Face on Little Big Chief last weekend on Aug 27th. This route is referenced as "Falcon Route" on mountain project, although I couldn't find the origin of this name as it is not mentioned in the FA (trip report here on CC:

Saturday evening view of the face we were gonna climb:


We approached from the Dingford Creek trailhead, which is about 13-14 miles on road/trail to the turn-off for the Summit Chief valley. We turned off the trail a 5 minute walk past the steel bridge referenced on MP and found relatively easy going with minimal bushwhacking up to camp below the NW face of Little Big Chief. 

Leaving camp at about 5:30 AM we wound our way up the talus, little gulley, and heather ledges to the base of the route, where we racked up for simuling and did the 200-250m of 4th-low 5th in a single simul block. This is roughly the way we went and the pitches aligned closely with the descriptions on MP:


Pitch 1 had the promised undercling that must be traversed to the right, a good marker that you are at the right spot on the route, just left of of the big vertical "chimney" that splits the face. 




From here, we followed a groove on pitch 2: image.jpeg.571085c101c8b0aaf707e981c68c7cc8.jpeg

To easier ground on pitch 3 (trending up and slightly right along the crest of a convex feature) to the base of the headwall above. We found pitch 3 to be littered with a lot of death blocks sitting on the lower angle rock which we had to carefully maneuver around. 


A widening crack got us up the bottom of the headwall (P4): 


The pitches above (5,6) looked good at a distance but also had a lot of loose rock and some death blocks we had to work around. 


From there, we climbed up and right on easier ground over a bunch of choss covered ledges and one final pitch of ~5.7 climbing to gain the ridge. 


From there, we were a short distance from the summit, which we reached about 3:30pm. 



The MP description said to descend the ridge to the south from there. Definitely DON'T do that as that way looks extremely steep, loose, and uncertain. Instead, we descended to the north and followed the north ridge back down to Dutch Miller gap. This descent had 2 rappels from the summit on existing tat, followed by going along some easy heather ledges to skiers left to get to the north ridge. From there we easily scrambled down the ridge, where one airy step is passed by using another established rappel station. After that, it is all non-technical scrambling/walking down to Dutch Miller gap, from where we had to loop back around the trail and up to camp (had we known we would descend all the way to Dutch Miller gap we would have camped by the main trail rather than camping by the base of the NW face). As it was, we reached camp at 9pm, hiked part way out to the horse camp near the Hardscrabble Lakes trail turnoff and bivied there (1am-4am) for a few hours before getting up early Monday morning to hike out the rest of the way and go to work. 

Hopefully this beta helps someone. Overall, a pretty cool climb although it had more loose rock than we were hoping for and I would be wary of that. If you decide to climb it, definitely DO NOT do it under another party, be very careful about picking your belay stances to shield the belayer from rockfall above, and plan on descending to Dutch Miller gap. 

We brought the following gear:

60m rope

1x BD 0, 0.1, 0.2, 2x 0.3-#2, 1x #3

A set of pitons (never used, leave these at home)

A set of nuts (never used)



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  • 1 month later...

nice work!

Talked with Martin before climbing this on August 8 this year. He named the route Falcon Route after the Falcon the swooped back and forth over him while he lead the final pitches to the summit. 

I'd second descending to the north, very straightforward. although we intersected the descent beta Martin gives and rappelled back into the Summit Chief Valley from 5400'.

We brought bikes from the trail head to horse camp, it may or may not have made the approach much better but it sure was nice on the way out.

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Cool, thanks for posting up!  We also approached by bike up to the horse camp with gear trailers.  It was more pleasant I think.

That face looks so cool, and it was a pleasant valley to camp in.  Too bad the rock sucks!  We also descended the way you did but cut down back towards camp earlier and it worked fine.  We had planned a second day to climb another route in there but weren’t feeling it after the Falcon.  There might be some better climbing left of that if one wanted to sport bolt it, didn’t look well enough protected for my timid ass. 

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