American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, The Innominate, Northwest Face and Ridge, Bighorn Mountains

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1977

The Innominate, Northwest Face and Ridge, Bighorn Mountains. In July 1933 a remarkable climb was done in the Bighorn Mountains by A.W. and Walter B. Willcox, which “turned out to be the climax of our expedition, a magnificent peak.”* The Willcox party named the summit Innominate due to its similarity to the Innominate crack in the English Lakes district. The report on the 12,671-foot summit mentioned that “North of Cloud Peak … is a group of needles whose jagged outlines would do credit to Chamonix.” One of the least known portions of the Rocky Mountains, the high outlying range between the Great Plains and Bighorn Basin has a relief of 9,000 feet. Deep cirques are characteristic of glacial origin, and lake basins have been excavated in the granitic gneiss. After a reconnaissance of the very sheer east face in September, 1975, we discovered what appeared to be a remarkable, feasible route on the northwest corner of Innominate (the original climb was apparently done on the west face). Mickey Schurr, Bryce Simon and I approached via Cloud Peak Lakes, then made the new route on a very windy but clear day, August 25. The climbing was superb, on good rock, with a zigzag system of cracks and chimneys leading near the edge of the northwest corner to a spot between gendarmes on the arête. Here we climbed on the outer edge to an overhang, where a few moves of aid led back to blocks and continuing cracks. The 30-foot summit needle was climbed by a rope throw and may not have been done previously. It seems that the route had not been previously ascended, but at least one party made rappels a short distance to the west. NCCS III, F8, Al.

Fred Beckey

* W.B. Willcox, “An American Tyrol,” American Alpine Journal, 1934, 2:2, pages 170-183.

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