Saturday, August 18, 2012

Wind River Trip Report - August 2012

Thom Engelbach drives us down the 50mile dirt road to the trailhead.

Ah, another August trip to the Wind River Mountain Range, Wyoming!  It was nice to be back in
one of my favorite, somewhat close, alpine climbing areas.   Only 6 to 8 hours drive from the
Front Range of Colorado, it is a cheap adventure, with big views, and big climbs.
Terry, Jim, and Angela with route to Deep Lake.

This time we did something different for our usual trip.  Usually we head in by ourselves.  I carry a 70+ pound pack, and Liz carries a 60+ pounder on a 10+ day trip.
On this journey we were invited to join 9 other friends, and 6 lamas. 
The Lone Ranger!

Joining us in our cast was Lone Ranger, Rufus, Alpamayo, Yabo, Fab, Pathfinder, Terry Price,
Thom Engelbach, Karla Shaw, Jim Donini, Angela Goodacre, Mike ?, Roger Schimmel, and
Steve & Joan Arsenault.  We also ended up seeing some other good friends up there as well.

The lamas were just great creatures.  They don't spit, which I have heard before.  They are less skittish than horses.  So you can get behind them, or crouch down by them without worrying about being kicked.
And on the trail, they just follow along.  They are roped to you, but easier to walk than a dog.  Thanks for training them so well Terry!  Once in to camp they just graze on high mountain grasses, and drink once a day.  They are like a camel when it comes to water.  By the end of the trip, I thought of some to be like giant dogs in a way.  They love to be together, and if they can't see each other, they cry out funny noises to see where the others might be.

Terry leads the way with Rufus.

 On this trip we made our way into the Deep Lake area.  Home of Haystack Mountain, Steeple Spire,
Lost Temple Spire, East Temple Peak, and Temple Peak.  We had been here on two other trips.
On one trip we came over from the Cirque of the Towers after being there for a week already.  Upon
arriving at Deep Lake, the barometer  continued to drop.  You know where this is going...  We were
nearing the end of our trip, and rained out by a major storm.   On the next trip we started at the Cirque
again, moving to Deep Lake later but were able to sneak in Steeple Spire before the rain came again!

This trip we had our eye on some formations that we had not climbed yet.  It is nice to do
one route (at least) on each formation.  I like to experience the different spots, and views.

After hiking in, our first objective was the Lost Temple Spire.  This thing is a hidden gem, literally.
As you gaze a stare up at East Temple Peak, you may not even notice the thing.  Your only clue
of it being a spire from afar is when you are driving (hard to spot) or on the hike in.  That is when
you can actually see it standing high.  Just as high (more or less) at East Temple Peak itself.
The far end of Haystack on the left, Steeple pokes up in the middle, and Lost Temple Spire (hard to see, but look for the sun / shade line on the right side of it)  in front of the left edge of East Temple Peak.   Picture taken from the hike in.

Liz heading up Lost Temple Spire.
A fun 5.10 pitch.

The easiest route up this spire is a 8 (guidebook) pitch route with  3 pitches of 5.10.  We got off route up high and made it 4!  Of course off route means run out sometimes, but it all worked out ok.  All of the
climbs on this tower look to be of high quality, and mostly in the 5.11 range.  This formation is one that is
worth doing many things on, just like Warbonnet over in the Cirque of the Towers.
Liz up higher.

Me starting the upper money pitch.


Haystack, with the Major & Minor Dihedrals out left. 
Mike heading up the Railroad Track Cracks.

Good stone!

Next on the list was Haystack Mountain.  On the second day I was going to climb Minor Dihedral with Terry, but we woke to stormy skies.  Eventually it cleared up so Mike and me ran up the Railroad Track
Cracks.  A wonderful 5 or so pitch 5.8  On our way up to the climb, which starts around the bottom
of the Grassy Goat descent scramble, where we run in to a few young climbers coming down.

I ask them nervously if our double rack, with a #4 Camalot will be sufficient enough for the Grassy
Goat route?  It is now also after 11am, a bit of a late start for noobs on an alpine climb!
They look at me strangely, and say I think you guys will be ok with that rack, but not in a confident voice.
I couldn't hold it in anymore, and clued him in that we were just joking, and about to simlu-climb the route.  They pointed out a party mid way up that may be blocking our path.  They met them earlier in the day, and said the guy's name was Crusher.  What?  Crusher I ask?   Bearded?   With a fine lady friend of the same age?  Yup...  That must be my friends up there!  We are heading up to investigate I tell them.
Meeting up on the route, we climb, and enjoy the summit together.

Our friends Fran & Crusher.             Cumbre!

The next day I am getting tired  after hiking in one day, climbing the next two days, but the weather
is still looking good this morning so we set off for Haystack Mountain again.  This time Liz and me
are looking to head up the Major Dihedral, a 11 pitch 5.10c.  Whatever that means...  The original
line is somewhat "unknown" on how to get up to that giant hanging dihedral.  The book gives what
some think is the line.  It did give a good description, but the climbing was not very obvious.  Things
like pull the roof at the underclings, 20 feet left of the belay, 5.8   The only problem was the roof was
big!  Like Modern Times (5.8+ in the Gunks.)  I climbed around some more... 
Liz on pitch 1.

The big down pointing flake below/left of my green rope flexed, so I didn't put any gear in, and climbed over it carefully!
Clouds are building, but we are having fun!

This pitch goes up / way left from here to that distant left leaning flake.  Another run out.

The lower pitches took us a bit of time, wondering around looking for the path of least resistance.
All of the 5 or 6 pitches we did had some sort of run out (20 to 40 feet) while doing some face climbing.
This lower half of the climb before getting up to the corner system consisted of face, flakes,and
horizontal cracks.  Not much in the way of vertical cracks, but a few bits here and there...

After finally getting up to the corner system, and looking forward to some more straight forward climbing,
and route finding, the weather is turning.  No, but I don't want to come back, having to reclimb all those run out pitches.  I even had to aid what was supposed to be the 10c roof.  

With lightning hitting the Big Sandy lake not too far away, and still half the route to go...  We head down.
Of course it is a total crap shoot.  The weather does eventually get better, but you never know when.
You win some, you loose some.  We will try again one day, and will know what more to expect of this
climb.  maybe be able to at least move a bit faster down low on the route, or maybe not because it
will still be the same old run outs.  Patience and mental control was good to have for this climb.
Chef Donini!

Donini, Fran, Roger, Crusher, Terry, Thom during tasty talk around camp.
Rest day rock art.  Build it up, knock it down.  Some of these were 3 feet tall.

Finally after three days of climbing it is time to rest!  The lamas carried in all our climbing gear, and food.
We have plenty of items to snack on while resting, including a lovely  variety of burgers, chicken,
fresh salsa, guacamole, fresh caught trout, cheese, humus, fresh eggs, etc.
I think this is the only Wind Rivers trip that I did not come home a few pounds lighter!
Hike in with a light pack because of the lamas?  Give me a break, I am filling my pack with high grade
canned micro brews.  What goes better with resting, burgers, or after a long route?!

After a good rest, I am getting psyched to climb again.  I can't really sit around for too long, even if I need to rest.  This time we go for the classic Minor Dihedral a 5.9, 10 pitch climb on Haystack.  Terry, and Karla
join us for this adventure.  We head to bed early (after a beer of course..) for the early start tomorrow.
I wake in the night, wait what's that!  Worse than a bear, rain, damn it!
We still get up early only to find the summits still socked in.  Liz heads to the other tents to say stay in bed!

Starting up Central Corner.

After milling about camp all morning, looking at, well not the summits, it finally clears up around 11am.
Liz and me decide why not go do one of those short things on Haystack.  It is right up from camp, easy
approach.  I bet we could be up starting with in a half hour.  We rack up and go, hoping the weather
continues to stay clear.  It is a late start, but with the short approach, and the route  only being 5 or so pitches we should be fine.  Getting to the base,  we decide to simul-climb this 5.9 Central Corner route.
Liz takes off and I follow behind with the pack.  She runs out the slab, preserving gear for the higher section.  Getting up into the corner system, and stopping right below the 5.9 crux corner / roof she builds a life station, and belays me up the rest of the way.  Liz leads off again,  cruises the crux, and heads up out of sight.
I told her that I will hoot 10 feet before I start climbing again so she knows to put the ropeman ascender upside down on a bomber cam to protect her (somewhat) if I were to blow it on the crux.  I didn't think that I would fall, but why not stack the odds in your favor?
We top out, speed down the Grassy Goat Trail, and arrive back at camp in a 3.5 hour round trip.
Liz on the crux pitch.

This was a nice way to finish up the trip.  My goal was three climbs, that puts me at 20 completed routes in the Winds.   It's just a funny personal thingy, now I can't wait to hit 50 climbs some day.  
Hopefully next year we can get back to the Cirque of the Towers, and complete the last 4 formations that
we have not stood on top of yet.. (Bollinger, Warrior2, Pilon, and South Watchtower.)

Temple Peak.

Looking back toward Deep Lake, Haystack Mountain, and the Cirque of the Towers in the distance.

Warbonnet, and Pingora in the front.

Me and Aplamayo.

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