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North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Range, South Buttress of the Watchtower

South Buttress of the Watchtower. Viewed from Lonesome Lake, the Watchtower presents an elegant 800-foot buttress. On July 18 Charlie Raymond and I began from just inside the couloir south of the Watch- tower. The first pitch went up a ramp leaning right. On the second Charlie finished the ramp and then went diagonally right to a belay in slings in a vertical crack above a black dike. When he hauled the pack, it dislodged a rock which bounded down toward me and wedged itself in a crack above my head, temporarily imprisoning the climbing rope. The third pitch went straight up except for a 30-foot flirtation with a crack on the left to avoid a white overhang. On the fourth Charlie climbed free straight up 75 feet (except for one zig-zag right) and then began the first nailing on the route. He soon set up a belay in slings and I pitoned above him to a large, flat, somewhat detached ledge. I then climbed an unpleasant ramp leading left and belayed in slings at the foot of a 30-foot flake. As Charlie was leading the next pitch a three hour period of rain and lightning began. From 20 feet above the top of the flake he traversed right and nailed up to a good ledge. The following pitch, the 7th, was a long, free climb somewhat leftward up a series of cracks to an alcove. From the alcove easier climbing leads 200 feet to the summit. Although this is perhaps the most difficult route in the Cirque of the Towers, with perhaps the finest "line,” the actual climbing did not meet the expectations engendered by the beauty of the buttress. The rock is often poor and the belay spots not well situated. Some sling belays can be avoided by shortening pitches to utilize ledges. We often used horns for belay points. (NCCS IV, F9, A3. 60 pitons.)

Royal Robbins