After gaining the Ritter/Banner Saddle (photo to the left), we contemplate the next section. At the Saddle you have a choice to either climb Banner Peak or Mt Ritter. On this trip we choose to do Mt Ritter.
As you can see, traversing the saddle is easy enough, and we made quick work of it. We always try to make maximum use of good snow and ice in the mountains. They are a great way to gain altitude quickly if you are carrying an ice ax and are wearing crampons.
After gaining the top of this snow section, we meet up with the rock that makes up the class three part of the North Face of Mt Ritter. You can see Mike exiting that section in the upper right hand image. For more on class ratings for rock climbs, please check out our page on Climbing
In the lower right hand photo, you see the view looking down into the Ritter/Banner Saddle. Getting to this point took a bit of rock climbing as mentioned above. Always cool to be able to look back and see your progress. Slow and steady gets the job done.
There were a couple of sections where we were forced off route and ended up doing a bit of class 4 climbing. This was due to the fact that we had a lot of snow that year we climbed Mt Ritter (as mentioned at the beginning of this page), and it was a good thing that we had a rope available to protect those sections. Even with class 3, it never hurts to have a rope along. It is very easy to get off course mountaineering, and having a rope along gives you that much needed extra margin of safety.
Note: Class 3 can be described as climbing a tall building without a handrail, and you need to know the fear and skill level of all folks in your climbing party. Some climbers out there have no problem going without a rope for class three, but we always take a lightweight 60 foot (plus or minus) section of rope for class 3, because you never know when you are going to run into problems or if someone in your climbing party is feeling just a bit off the mark that day.