Trip Date: July 25, 2017
Trip time: 9 hours 35 mins
Distance: 20.5 kms
Elevation Gain: 1,556m
Route: NW Ridge from Smuts/Birdwood Col
Difficulty: Numerous climbers scramble sections on this ridge.
It was surprising to reach the summit of Mount Birdwood by means of scrambling alone. After reading other trip reports online we decided to bring a full trad rack and 70m rope just in-case but it was not necessary. The North West Ridge of Mount Birdwood is very similar to the scramble route up neighboring Mount Smuts, albeit much looser. There is, however, no (obvious) easy way off Mount Birdwood as is the case with Smuts.
While it would be possible to down-climb the entire NW ridge of Mount Birdwood; it would be an extremely sketchy proposition to do so as the route is very exposed, very steep and extremely loose. As we had our rope and found two excellent ‘stations’ (one had two solid pitons and a wired nut the other a slung chock-stone) we took advantage of the means with which to abseil. Even with the two rappels there were still times when the down-climbing felt quite perilous and great care had to be taken with each placement.
If you are keen on scrambling the NW ridge of Mount Birdwood relatively safely an ultralight skimo harness, 50-60m of rap cord, locking biner, ability to tie a munter hitch, approach shoes, 5-6m of cord and a #7 or #8 Black Diamond Stopper should do the trick.
Click on photos to enlarge.