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North America’s 50 Classic Climbs: Fine Jade

Epic TV will be doing a series on North America’s 50 Classic Climbs as found in Steve Roper and Allen Steck’s book, Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.

The book was published in 1979. No one has climbed all 50 routes.

Canadian Nancy Hansen has climbed the most with 46. Last year, she was skunked on Saint Elias. She also needs to climb Hummingbird Ridge, Waddington and Middle Triple. Two years ago, she made a rare attempt on Middle Triple and discovered the first pitch had fallen off. The Middle Triple has not been climbed for some time.

Nancy Hansen and Middle Triple

Nancey Hansen Wins Guy Lacelle Award

One of the routes, the Hummingbird Ridge, has never been repeated and claimed the lives of Dave Cheesmond and Catherine Freer.

An American couple, Mark & Janelle Smiley, have also been attempting to climb the 50 classics. They’ve climbed 44, two less than Nancy. Last year, the Smileys attempted Hummingbird, but did not make it very far. The Hummingbird has been attempted a number of times, but with no success. The first ascent took nearly a month.

Some have suggested that the list be changed, as some of the routes in the book are not classic. For one, it’s now illegal to climb Shiprock. See the complete list of routes below.

Epic TV wrote: Local knowledge counts for a lot in climbing, so when Utah hard man and prolific new router Jay Smith recommended Fine Jade 5.11a to the Smileys, they knew that they just had to climb it. With perfect splitter cracks on the first two pitches and superb face climbing above, Fine Jade more than lives up to its name. The approach is short, the line stunning and the climbing encapsulates all that is best about Utah’s desert towers.

Alaska and the Yukon

Mount Saint Elias, Abruzzi Ridge
Mount Fairweather, Carpé Ridge
Mount Hunter, West Ridge
Mount McKinley, Cassin Ridge
Moose’s Tooth, West Ridge
Mount Huntington, West Face 5.9 A2 with “severe snow and ice”
Mount Logan, Hummingbird Ridge
Middle Triple Peak, East Buttress VI 5.9 A3

Western Canada

Mount Sir Donald, Northwest Arete III 5.2
Bugaboo Spire, East Ridge III 5.7
South Howser Tower, West Buttress V 5.8 A2 or 5.10
Mount Robson, Wishbone Arete V 5.6
Mount Edith Cavell, North Face IV 5.7
Mount Alberta, Japanese Route IV 5.6
Mount Temple, East Ridge IV 5.6
Mount Waddington, South Face V 5.7
Devils Thumb, East Ridge IV 5.6
Lotus Flower Tower V 5.8 A2 or 5.10

The Pacific Northwest

Mount Rainier, Liberty Ridge
Forbidden Peak, West Ridge II 5.6
Mount Shuksan, Price Glacier
Slesse Mountain, Northeast Buttress V 5.9 A2
Mount Stuart, North Ridge III 5.4
Liberty Bell Mountain, Liberty Crack V 5.9 A3


Devil’s Tower, Durrance Route II 5.6-5.7
Grand Teton, North Ridge IV 5.7
Grand Teton, Direct Exum Ridge III 5.6
Grand Teton, North Face IV 5.8
Mount Moran, Direct South Buttress IV 5.7 A3
Pingora, Northeast Face IV 5.8
Wolf’s Head, East Ridge II 5.5


Crestone Needle, Ellingwood Ledges III 5.7
Hallett Peak, Northcutt-Carter Route III 5.7
Petit Grepon, South Face III 5.7
Longs Peak, The Diamond, D1 V 5.7 A4 or 5.12a

The Southwest

Shiprock, III 5.7 A2 or 5.9
Castleton Tower, Kor-Ingalls Route III 5.9
Fisher Towers, The Titan, Finger of Fate, IV 5.8 A3


The Royal Arches, Royal Arches Route III 5.6 A1 or 5.9
Lost Arrow Spire, Spire Chimney III 5.5 A3 or 5.10 A2
Sentinel Rock, Steck-Salathe Route V 5.9 A3
Middle Cathedral Rock, East Buttress IV 5.9 A1 or 5.10
Half Dome, Northwest Face VI 5.9 A3 or 5.12
El Capitan, Nose Route VI 5.11 A3
El Capitan, Salathé Wall VI 5.10 A3
Mount Whitney, East Face III 5.7
Fairview Dome, North Face III-IV 5.9
Clyde Minaret, Southeast Face IV 5.8
Charlotte Dome, South Face III 5.7
Lover’s Leap, Traveler Buttress II 5.9