The West Ridge of Paisano pinnacle is one of those hidden gems that is generally only climbed by people in the know. A long time favorite of several of our guides, we have watched this climb get cleaner and better over the years as more people find out about the quality climbing it offers.
Paisano is overshadowed by its much taller, neighboring peaks, collectively known as the Wine Spires. This collection of spires; Burgundy, Pernod, Chianti and Chablis, all offer some great climbing, though arguably none can claim such fine moderate climbing as the West Ridge of Paisano pinnacle.
Though it finishes on a lower summit, the climb on Paisano starts much lower and thus offers seven to eight pitches of excellent climbing en route to the top. Pitch after pitch of high quality hand and finger cracks with large, comfortable belay ledges in a spectacular setting make this one of the best climbs of its grade in the Washington pass area.
When climbed in one day, the West ridge makes for a full day of being on the move. The approach is only a few hours, though up a steep and strenuous trail. Once at the base of the climb, we will switch into rock shoes, rope up and begin the climb. Each pitch is sustained mid fifth class climbing and good jamming skills will pay dividends here. The crux comes two thirds of the way up the route, on a short step of steep twin finger cracks. Several more pitches, with the ridge becoming more defined and narrow, finally lead to the small and airy summit.
The descent involves a few hundred feet of downclimbing and then a series of rappels back to Burgundy col. From here, its back to the climbers trail and all the way back down to the creek. A short climb at the end takes us back up to the highway and our car.
- Climbers should be comfortable following mid fifth class rock.
- Crack climbing skills will be extremely helpful.
- Good physical fitness – ability to move quickly for a full day with short breaks.
There are a number of strategies for climbing the West Ridge of Paisano pinnacle. Some folks will do the route car to car in one long day. This is often a 10-12 hour day. Others will camp at the Larch bench and combine this with a climb of the Silver Star glacier and/or the North face of Burgundy Spire. Super strong climbers might be interested in a “Super day” and do a link up of the West ridge of Paisano and continuing up the North face of Burgundy for many pitches of high quality 5.8 climbing.
- Recommended Reading: Washington Pass Supertopo, Classic climbs of the Northwest by Alan Kearney