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North America, Contiguous United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, Cathedral Peak, South Tower Direct

Cathedral Peak, South Tower Direct. The spectacular 1,200-foot face of Cathedral Peak rises above Cathedral Lake, just seven miles from the Dickenson Park Trailhead on the Lander side of the range. Until Chris McNamara and I climbed the South Tower of this 12,166-foot peak in a long day, the only route on it was Orion’s Reflection, a Grade V 5.10 A3 done by Fred Beckey and Jim Kantzler in 1979 with one bivy, during which they saw, guess what, Orion’s reflection in the lake below. Our route took several tries in the vain hope of freeclimbing a line somewhere up the perfect Wind River gneiss, but the lack of vertical crack systems and frequency of horizontal ceilings made us resort to a fair amount of aid on the upper wall. Our South Tower Direct (V 5.11b A2) starts up the center of the left of the two towers that are split by a massive couloir on the upper face. Near the top, we veered toward the left side to avoid more overhangs after a strenuous pair of pitches with multiple ceilings. We topped out just as a thunderstorm was closing in.

Spending a week camped at Cathedral Lake, Chris and I also climbed a Grade III 5.10 free route up the lower-angle, 800-foot South Buttress of Cathedral, as well as a four-pitch 5.10 new route with Randy Spurrier up the 500-foot south face of what we called Isthmus Dome, just north of the narrow isthmus between Cathedral and Middle Lakes.

Galen Rowell