Recently Guides Ryan Jung, Megan Flynn and I headed off to climb one of the more classic and least traveled lines in all of the Sawtooths, the North West Ridge of Horstmann Peak. If you have been to Stanley before you have surely noticed the route, especially if you have eaten lunch at Bridge Street Grill in Lower Stanley, which is where our story began.
While eating lunch and watching the Olympics at the grill we had time during commercials to gaze out the window towards the towering skyline of Horstmann. It had been a line we all had talked about doing before, and had heard many people do the same, but the number of people we knew who had actually climbed it was quite small. While the ridge definitely sees ascents it is quite rare, and our best source of information was from Kirk Bachman, who was the first to ascend the route in 1979.
“It’s a long route.”
“Yeah? Anything else that would be good to know?”
“Watch out for rock fall.”
And with this we were off! Into the great bushwhack known as Fishhook creek. That night we were lucky enough to be in the midst of the Percied meteor shower which gave us a great show to bivy under.
5 am came early the next day. Even with weary eyes from watching shooting stars the night before, we were able to find the base of the climb with relative ease. Over the next ten and one half hours we wove our way up the ridge and over the gendarmes that grace the skyline. After several pitches the climbing seemed to blend together into one blissful outing, even amongst loose rock there was much to be enjoyed along the ridge.
Topping out was a wonderful moment even though we knew what lay ahead on the descent. The summit register was a looking glass to the past with dates back to 1954. We soon began the lighthearted walk back down to the valley, where we were once again obscured in the darkness of night, forced to bivy under the stars. It was truly a day, route and peak of magnificently beautiful proportions!