American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, Wind River Peak, Tempest Tower, Second Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Wind River Peak, Tempest Tower, Second Ascent. It appears that Matt Flicek and I unknowingly managed to do a second “first ascent” of the Wind River’s Tempest Tower route in August. We set out on the ten-mile approach to the Deep Creek Lakes cirque with first ascents in mind. After lugging our loads to our final destination, we were astounded by the amazing granite in this area. According to our information, the east side of Little El Cap and a formation known as “Tempest Tower” formed the main curving wall of the cirque, and had already seen ascents of their most obvious lines. Since a first ascent was what we were after, our attention was drawn to a 1,000-foot-plus buttress that was a shoulder of Wind River Peak. This buttress sported a beautiful golden arête with a splitter crack running as far as we could see. We had found our backcountry cherry, and plans were made for our ascent.

We set out the next day and found an easy first pitch that led to a shallow groove that required extensive gardening. At the top of this pitch, we found a fixed stopper with an attached sling. This appeared to us to be a prior party’s bail anchor. The next pitch followed this groove for another 20 feet until opening up above a small ceiling to become a perfect oneinch splitter. The beginning of this pitch presented the crux of the route because of the bottomed-out nature of the crack. Alien hybrid cams and a couple of heads were needed to get through this section of A2. The splitter continued above, but opened up into a much more hand-friendly size and continued with good free climbing to the summit. We found no further evidence of a prior ascent.

According to Joe Kelsey, the first-ascent information on Tempest Tower was incredibly shaky, and our route sounds similar to its description. Given the description by the first ascensionists, we believed that Tempest Tower was much farther up the cirque. It now appears that it is the formation labeled Chimney Rock on the USGS quad. Even if we did not get the first ascent we were seeking, we were happy to have accomplished a beautiful route in a remote setting. It is impossible to always know that you are the first on any wall in an area such as the Winds. What is more important than us being the first are the memories that we will retain from our experiences.

Wade Griffith, unaffiliated

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