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North America, United States, Wyoming—Wind Rivers, Musembeah Peak, West Buttress

Musembeah Peak, West Buttress. The best climb that Layton Kor and I did while in the Grave Lake region of the Wind River Range was the western buttress of Musembeah Peak, on the east shore of Baptiste Lake. This buttress leads to the main summit and can be readily identified by its white, and very thin crest. From the lake it appears to be most spectacular. We had made the first ascent of the west face of the north peak of Musembeah on September 5, a fairly long climb of medium difficulty, and en route to our base camp had an opportunity to study the main peak’s buttress, which certainly is the classic climb of this massif of peaks, buttresses, and turrets. On the 7th we left camp, and soon got involved in a wet, icy couloir with very slippery rock. Kor led a pitch that had a hard NCCS 7 move and an even trickier section that was 8 and very exposed. The next few pitches were marvelous free climbing, generally 5 to 6, with perfect granite and exhilarating exposure. When we came to the buttress crest, now high on the 1600-foot wall, climbing went faster for three leads. Then the clouds hit us with the worst rainstorm we had all summer. The remainder of the climb was a nightmare on cold, wet rock. We did some five pitches, all of which had very difficult sections, while soaked to the skin. Every crack was full of water, and the major couloirs dropping toward the flanks were horrible waterfalls. The most difficult sections were an overhanging wall that I did partly on aid to avoid a terribly loose chockstone, which would have wiped us out if it came off, and a difficult, rounded jam-crack up which Kor wormed his way. When we finally got up, we felt as if we had been in an icy water tank half a day. We literally ran down to camp, which fortunately was still dry under the tarp. The ascent took forty to forty-five pitons.

Fred Beckey