American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming—Wind River Range, P 11,172 and "Gash Peak"

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1975

P 11,172 and “Gash Peak.” Despite some rain every day, during four days in August Del Langbauer, David Goeddel, Jack Norris and I made four new routes from camp near Pyramid Lake, south of Mount Bonneville. Three routes (the first, second and third ascents of the peak) were on P 11,172, located between Pyramid Lake and Mount Geikie. Langbauer and I climbed “Rainy Day” on the southeast side on August 3. Via easy slabs below a large overhang, we reached a prominent black dike which diagonals up and right. We followed the dike until another overhang could be passed on its left. Four more leads, mostly fourth- class with occasional more difficult sections, led to the summit. We descended the north side, deluged with rain, tricky business unroped. NCCS II, F5. On August 5 Goeddel, Norris and I climbed “Sunshine” on the southwest side, beginning on slabs to the left of an apron and a major, right-facing corner a few hundred feet up. Above the higher of two large ledges we made two tricky mantles to reach the left end of a large platform. There was an impressive, semi-detached flake above, behind which we chimneyed before making a unique hands-and-knees 10-foot traverse to the right immediately under an overhang. Jamming and laybacking led up the side of a flake. Directly above, we rejected a layback and instead climbed a steep and strenuous crack to the left, which happily ended soon at a ledge. Above the ledge, a traverse to the right and around the corner on friction led up to a ledge with a large block. Steep but secure stemming in a flaky corner and then several hundred feet of moderate climbing brought us near the top. The seventh and last lead ended with a short stint in a flaring chimney. The climb, with good belay ledges and clean rock, was invigorating though not committing. NCCS III, F7. The third and finest route on P 11,172 lies on the western side of the clean, steep south face. The rock is excellent, the protection good and the climbing continuous, enjoyable and direct for the eight long pitches of the route. Langbauer and I made our 15-minute approach at first light on August 6 and finished nine hours later, never having left the warmth of the sun. We began at the center of an apron below two broad, prominent arches crossed by black water streaks. Part way up the apron, a few tricky friction steps led up and left to a good ledge. Above, we were faced with a set of three intimidating, parallel, right-facing dihedrals. Before figuring out the proper combination of jamming, stemming, laybacking and face-climbing, I took a short fall onto a small nut. Higher, I traversed first right and then back left and over the arch to an adequate ledge. The only choice above was a large, steep, right-facing corner with a crack of variable size at its back. After strenuous off-size jamming, we were forced to use six points of aid to climb a 25-foot section, where the crack narrowed and the angle steepened, to a good ledge. A detached flake is above and left of the ledge; we went up and right, up a corner and out over the right side of an irregular overhang visible from the ground below. Stemming between two overhanging parallel cracks led to a ledge, which we traversed 30 feet to its right end. Del led directly up and found enough protection to climb straight over a bulge. We continued for several more pitches and finished the difficult climbing with a flaring chimney topped by an overhang. Hardware: one each of Chouinard nuts from No. 2 stopper to No. 10 hexentric; 8 pitons to 1". NCCS IV, F9, Al. Very different from the above climbs was one on the east face of “Gash Peak,” immediately north of P 12,173 (“Ambush”), identifiable by the great cleft extending from the ground 2000 feet to split the north from the south summit. Our route was to the north summit and wandered up the face between the cleft and a large chimney to its right. Langbauer and I approached in threatening weather and climbed as rapidly as possible over often alarmingly unstable rock. When we were near the top, we were struck suddenly by wind, snow and lightning. We detoured left to the notch, bypassing the last few hundred feet of fourth-class and continuing unroped to the top. NCCS III, F7.

Andrew R. Embick

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