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North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, Mt. Hooker, Loaded for Bear

Mt. Hooker, Loaded for Bear. I wasn’t sure if I’d get my Czech friend Jakub Gajda to accompany me on another climbing trip, and I wasn’t sure that I was ready for another adventure. But by June I was excited for another trip. It had to be short and cheap, since I only had ten days off work and very little dinero. I turned my attention toward an unclimbed feature I had seen in the Wind River Range—Mt. Hooker’s east face. The east face is separated from Hooker’s better-known northeast face by a broad couloir. The face comes to a point with diving-board overhangs. Its shallow grooves would be ideal for Jakub to practice his newly acquired skill of placing heads.

We rented a horse for the gear and hiked 18 miles to a lake, just off the Bear’s Ears Trail, at the

base of the awesome feature. From our camp on top of a big flat rock, we scoped a great line that split the wall. The highlight was what looked to be a succulent hand-crack that ran for two full pitches just below the blocky tip. We fixed two lines over the bottom slab pitches, which Jakub described as some of the most fun friction he had ever done. The next morning we packed the haulbag and headed up. Jakub’s memory must have been giving him hunger flashbacks, for although the wall was only 1,200 feet high, he wouldn’t stop packing until the huge bag was bursting.

The alpine granite was spectacular. The third and fourth pitches were beautiful shallow grooves that required several ‘biners worth of heads. Lugging our massive bag-o-rations we moved steadily. A small traverse at the top of pitch four brought us to the bottom of what we’d thought was the great hand crack. “Oh sheet,” said Jakub. “Hand crack, my azz.” The crack turned out to be a nasty little offwidth. We suffered through that evening and into the morning before we perched below the summit overhangs. I led the last pitch over the upside-down stairs, and finally a heart-stopping mantle put us on the summit.

We unpacked the haulbag and noticed that we still had five beers, three-quarters of a pack of Oreos, a tin of sardines, cheese, and ten liters of water. We had gone heavy; we had gone Loaded for Bear (V 5.9 A3).

Brent Edelen, AAC