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North America, United States,Wyoming, Mount Hooker, North Face, New Route, Wind River Range

Mount Hooker, North Face, New Route, Wind River Range. The 2000-foot north face of Mount Hooker had only one recorded ascent until last summer, the Robbins-Raymond-McCracken ascent of 1964. Hooman Aprin and I made an audacious winter attempt in 1977 but after the weather turned nasty, climbed only one pitch. My second attempt was made with Rick Bradshaw in August, 1977. This time we eeked out four hard-won pitches but four days of intermittent thunder showers had us scampering. August, 1978, saw us two at it again. After arrival, the next day we fixed the first two pitches. Even with previous knowledge of the route, the final F10 moves on the first pitch commanded respect. Rick made slow work of the second pitch, with its pendulum and hard mixed climbing. Luckily it stormed the next day and we could rest and acclimatize. Then it dawned clear and cold. We had hoped the next pitches would go fast since we had already placed bolts on them the year before, but the hooking was still A4. We climbed only three pitches that day to leave the lower blank area of the wall. We were at the start of the crack and chimney system, 500 feet up, where we thought we intersected the Robbins route. The next morning we climbed fast up an A1 crack. A short A4 pitch led to beneath the gaping chimney-roof. I started slowly aiding up the crack leading to the roof. I tension-traversed left to little flakes and tiny cracks on the wall. After placing a bolt, I finished the pitch. The next pitch was the crux, a deep, wide, off-width crack. Rick finally pulled himself onto a small ledge, where we bivouacked. The next day was spent climbing six mostly free pitches to a large ledge which cuts across the upper face, where we set up a comfortable bivouac. The last morning started with a dihedral 40 feet to our right. We worked our way up a series of overhanging corners and rounded bulges of fine orange granite. After four pitches we could see the top. Two more gritty pitches on increasingly bad rock and an A3 overhang saw us to the last big ledge and we third-classed to the top. NCCS VI, F11, A4.

James Dockery