Derived from the French word for fish bone or spine, an arête is a knife-edged ridge on a mountain formed by the glacial erosion of two or more surrounding cirques, marking the upper limit of their headwalls. Some arêtes have slopes that drop unbroken more than a thousand feet, a sheer, dizzying fall that accounts for the feature’s mystique of risk and danger. There are numerous arêtes at over twelve thousand feet in Colorado alone, such as Ellingwood Arête on Crestone Needle.

Arthur Sze