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North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, Mt. Hooker, Pay to Play

Mt. Hooker, Pay to Play. On their first trip to the Wind River Range in late August, Chattanooga climbers Jim Hewett and Neeld “Off the Couch” Messier established a new route on the Northeast Face of Mount Hooker. In nine free pitches and four of aid, Pay to Play (VI 5.11 A3) ascends the face between Brain Larceny and Red Light District, continuing straight up from Der Main Ledge to the top. It was completed over five days of climbing in good weather, with the team enjoying about four hours of sunlight each day.

A day of scoping revealed many potential lines. A distinct roof crack attracted the team’s attention, along with a line of corners and cracks with just one blank section. Pitches one through three climb moderate cracks topped by an awkward 5.9 squeeze/off width. Pitch four, the free- climbing crux of the route, blasts through the off width roof crack and up a lower-angle squeeze to the bottom of the blank section. The next pitch involves slabby face climbing, protected by two 5/16-inch button heads. The sixth pitch and aid crux comes next, a seam with thin nailing to a string of bat-hook holes, protected by one rivet, that leads up and right to the next feature.

The left-facing dihedral of the seventh pitch continues to arch left until it becomes the traversing roof beneath the eighth pitch. Two crack pitches then gain Der Main Ledge. The eleventh pitch traverses up and left to gain the left-facing corner that leads to the top in two final pitches.

The climbing is, for the most part, straightforward and enjoyable, though there are some loose sections. More good routes await climbers willing to brave the inconvenient approach and possible bad weather.

Jim Hewett