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North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Range, Haystack, Direct West Face

Haystack, Direct West Face. The smooth exfoliated west face of Haystack, as seen across Big Sandy Lake, is a landmark to climbers hiking in to the Cirque of the Towers area. It becomes increasingly steeper and harder as you move from the more sloping south shoulder to the north, where it rounds toward Black Joe Lake. In 1964 it was climbed by at least three new routes, and when Jerry Fuller and I arrived at Deep Lake, friends told us there was already a party high on the face. We looked, and there certainly was: in fact, exactly on the route I had had in mind for several years. So we did the natural thing: with binoculars we studied out an even more direct route, several hundred feet north. Mid-September days are short, and when we noted the other party had to bivouac on the summit, we took extra food and down jackets. We started early, getting onto a series of thin, catwalk ledges that worked left to an offset flake. We climbed the flake with direct aid, but it was a difficult problem since it arched far out over its base slab. We first climbed a crack behind a pillar, partly free and partly on aid, and then pitoned up the dihedral, which again had an awkward slope to it. Continuing on up, the crack system eventually worked into an area of lesser angle, but by this time it was twilight. We groped up the final two pitches in the dark and scrambled to the top. Jerry and I sat out the remainder of the cold night at the summit after this difficult grade IV climb. The ascent required about 60 pitons, and ranks high among the better climbs done in the Wind River Range.

Fred Beckey