American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming—Wind River Range, Flake Buttress and North Face, Squaretop

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Flake Buttress and North Face, Squaretop. Squaretop Mountain bears a striking similarity to the Devils Tower. Upon our arrival at Lower Green River Lake, Ron Niccoli and I clearly observed the giant “flake buttress” that ended in the north face some 300 feet below the summit (11,679 feet). Dick Pownall and Dick Emerson had attempted this route in 1958. On September 5 at four a.m. Ron and I left the campground at the lake. After a nine-mile hike up a fine trail, we found a log across the Green River and climbed 1000 feet to the base of Squaretop. From here on we had the choice of climbing in a giant cleft or on the large flake buttress to the left to a ledge where they melt into the north face. Pownall and Emerson chose the former until they were 200 feet below the ledge where they traversed to the ridge. We chose the latter and enjoyed some fine Grade III and IV climbing on good granite for some 1000 feet. Difficulties increased considerably 250 feet below the ledge. A difficult pitch (—VI) on the right side of the ridge brought us to a piton with a rappel sling, located under an overhang. This marked the end of the earlier attempt.

Above this, the climbing was artificial for 20 feet. Several pitons mark the route. The remaining distance to the ledge was Grade IV. There, 300 feet below the summit, the first lead (+V) was quite obvious. Above this we had the choice of several lines and chose one to the right. Free climbing (+V) brought us to a pitch that was running with water. This was surmounted with aid and in 60 feet more the summit was reached. A long hike brought us to the highest point. We got back to camp at midnight after 20 hours on the go. We used about 20 to 25 pitons. For climbs on Scjuaretop—and there are plenty of them left—we advise a camp under the peak, as it is a very long distance for a one-day climb.

Edward Cooper

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