American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Tetons, Crooked Thumb, North Face

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1968

Crooked Thumb, North Face. This long and impressive face (V, F9, A3) was climbed during August 11-13, 1966, by Peter Cleveland and Don Storjohann. It stands as one of the most difficult climbs yet completed in the Tetons. When approaching the Thumb from Cascade Canyon and the cirque to the west, one sees two large overhangs with black water stains on the wall below the pointed section of the Thumb; these overhangs proved to be the key to the route. The bottom of these black stains was reached after walking up the gully to the west and climbing the first three pitches. After a 100-foot traverse to the left, the difficult climbing began up a vertical crack to a down-sloping ledge which was followed, using aid, to the left where the pitch ended in a hanging belay. The climb continued left and up, passing an F9 overhang to a belay stance. The seventh pitch led left up a face beneath a huge roof which was passed by a hand traverse to the right until the crack ran out and a pendulum became necessary to reach a small ledge. Another lead up and into a corner beneath an overhang ended with the second hanging belay. A knife-blade and a rurp were used to pass this overhang. More aid and free climbing led across a sloping ledge to the base of a steep wall. An easy friction pitch left for 100 feet and up for 20 feet took the party to a small ledge. The tenth lead was up and right past wet and difficult rock to a belay ledge in the black, water-stained rock. One more lead brought them to a large, rock-strewn “Broadway” ledge below the final triangular face. The middle of this face was then climbed to a stance in black rock beside a loosely attached flake which may be seen from below. The next pitch ascended this flake and continued up and right over enjoyable rock to a second flake which was also climbed. The route then led right into an open-book which was ascended using aid. After passing a small ceiling to the left, the 14th pitch ended in yet another hanging belay. A traverse left on overhanging rock was followed by a layback crack. The overhanging and fractured brown rock above was passed using more aid. A deep guano chimney was then entered and, except for a brief zig-zag out to the right, was followed for the final two pitches which brought the party onto the summit ridge about 50 feet south of the summit.

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