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Rock Climb, Cirque of the Towers Area, Wind Rivers, WY
By Frank Nederhand
| WMC climbing in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming near Cirque of the Towers, July 22-26th, 2016.
Participants: Lucas Leoro, Frank A. Nederhand (organizer), and Matt Olson
Early on Friday July 22, 2016 our climbing party left Woods Cross, Utah towards Wyoming. After a gas stop in Evanston, Wyoming we proceeded via I-80, Wyoming Routes 372 and 28 to Farson, Wyoming. A few miles east of Farson, Wyoming on WY-Route 28 we turn north on the partially paved / gravel Wyoming Route 108 (Bing Sandy Elkhorn Road). Driving approximately 32.5 miles on this road we turn onto the Lander Cutoff Road for 7 miles till we come to the BLM and Shoshone National Forest Access Road.
We turn left onto this road to access the Big Sandy Trail Head in 11 miles on a dirt road that gets rougher as we approach the Big Sandy Trailhead. We arrive in the early afternoon and begin our backpack with heavy loads to reach Big Sandy Lake which is 5.2 miles and 800 vertical feet away. During our 5-day climbing adventure we traveled over 28 miles and climbed over 7200 vertical feet of elevation gain.
After setting up camp near Big Sandy Lake we hiked to the base of the Sundance Pinnacle to assess the approach to our climb for the next day. We then had dinner and went to bed.
On Saturday July 23, 2016 we hiked the two mile and 500 vertical approach to the base of the Center East Face of the Sundance Pinnacle and did the climb. Matt took the lead on the first Pitch (5.7) and then Frank lead the second pitch (5.9-) to near the top of the Pinnacle. We then unropped and scrambled up the last 300 vertical feet to the very top of the Pinnacle (11,054 fasl).
After we climbed down the easy south ridge of the pinnacle Matt and Frank hiked the remaining 1.6 miles and 1600 vertical feet to get to Jack Ass Pass to look into the Cirque of the Towers. A beautiful sight to behold. Also on our way back to camp we were able to see our next objective; Haystack Mountain (11,978 fasl) lite up by the setting sun.
On Sunday July 24, 2016 we packed up our gear and head for the Deep Lake area below the central part of Haystack Mountain, in preparation to climb the 6 pitch Center Corner Climb, which is at a Grade III, YDS 5.9.
We were fortunate to find a party starting the climb when we got to our camp site. We watched them as we set up camp and then hiked the short distance (but up 400 to 500 vertical feet) to Deep Lake. By doing the hike we got a very nice perspective on the climb we would be doing first thing in the morning. That night was the coldest that we had had all week so we anticipated the climb not to be as hot as earlier in the week. When morning came there was not a cloud in the sky. We reached the base of the first pitch at 11:00 am on Monday July 25, 2016. We simultaneous climbed the first two pitches with Lucas leading the 2nd pitch. Matt volunteered to lead the first 5.9 pitch (Pitch 3). He did it without any falls. Lucas was in the middle and Frank cleaned the gear. We moved the belay 20 feet higher to a better ledge and then Frank lead the next 5.9 pitch. Lucas again was in the middle and Matt then cleaned the route and once again we had to move the belay 10 feet to a more suitable belay ledge. From there Frank lead the 5.8 pitch number 5 to a huge ledge situated below the chimney pitch.
After having a break with snacks on the comfortable ledge Lucas lead the 5.6-5.7 chimney pitch. From there we were able to scramble and walk to the summit of Haystack.
From the Summit you hike north and then down to the Grassy Goat Trial which is a sloping ledge system that almost extends from near the top of Haystack Peak to the base of the route. We reached our camp between 8:30 and 9:00 PM. While preparing dinner we were treated to a very beautiful sunset.
The next morning, Tuesday July 26, 2016 we decided to pack up our gear and head home. We backpacked the 8 plus miles back to the Trail-Head in 4 hours, beating any rain that fell on the mountains after we were driving home. A perfect first trip for all of us to the famous Cirque of the Towers region of the beautiful Wind River Mountains of Wyoming.
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