American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Continental Towers, Wind River Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

Continental Towers, Wind River Range. In 1967, Fred Beckey and Bob Stevenson hiked up Little Sandy Creek and saw a set of worthy peaks perched on the Continental Divide near the valley’s head. They climbed the middle tower via gullies and chimneys leading to the notch south of the tower and then ascended the three pitches above the notch. They named the formation the Continental Towers. In August, Paul Horton and I camped in the upper valley’s meadows. On August 15, we climbed the northwest arête of the South Tower in five pitches, of which the third was the pièce de résistance. The arête led to a wide shoulder. I led an easy pitch above the shoulder to broad ledges and Paul finished the route with a meandering 5.7 lead. Below a short chimney, he startled me with a yelp of surprise at finding an Army ring-angle piton. Then, a few moves from the face’s top, he encountered a soft-iron Stubai vertical, draped with an Army carabiner. We have no idea as to who was climbing such out-of-the-way rock and not reporting it. We’d like to know. Near the summit, three more pre-Chouinard pins presumably anchored a rappel to the south. We chose to rappel to the shoulder. The next day, we climbed the Central Tower by its north ridge, shunning Beckey and Stevenson’s south side. Our approach chimney/gully hardly resembled sport-climbing; its rubble called for continual vigilance for 1000 feet or more. The ridge itself, however, proved to be fun. Four pitches alternately surmounted steps and traversed sections of flat crest (III, 5.8). We descended the ridge by two rappels interspersed with belayed climbing.

Joe Kelsey

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