American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, North Continental Tower, Little Sandy Buttresses

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

North Continental Tower, Little Sandy Buttresses. Near the head of the Little Sandy Valley is what appears to be a trio of impressive towers on the Divide to the east. Fred Beckey and Bob Stevenson named the central, highest one Continental Tower when they climbed it in 1967. Its southern neighbor has been climbed and called South Continental Tower. Given the view from the valley, it is natural that the northern formation (12,080+') would be called North Continental Tower, though it is really not a tower but a protruding fin. Tower or fin it appeared to be the most difficult of the three and as of last summer remained unclimbed.

On August 27 two Jackson Hole 16-year-olds, Trevor Bowman and Nick Stayner, climbed the North “Tower” by its southwest buttress and north ridge. They began by climbing a flake that led to a short 5.8 dihedral and a sloping ledge. They worked left to a larger ledge and followed it past a discontinuity to a prominent right-facing dihedral. This dihedral led to the fin’s spectacular knife-edge crest. The first of three pitches on the crest involved a 5.9 move onto an 18-inch ledge and a crawl. The final pitch (5.7) regained the crest from an exposed ledge on the crest’s east side via the right of two dihedrals. Bowman and Stayner named their route Aristeia (III 5.9), which in The Iliad means “One’s greatest moment in battle.”

On the Little Sandy Valley’s west side are formations that have collectively been called the Little Sandy Buttresses. Between the two main buttresses is a cluster of three pinnacles. Before their Continental Tower climb Bowman and Stayner climbed these pinnacles. They climbed Tower 11,440+', the highest and northwestern most of the cluster, by a contrived but pleasant route on the west face—a pitch on an arête, a descent from the arête, and a pitch on the main summit’s west face (5.6). They then climbed the most conspicuous tower, the eastern of two 11,320+-foot towers—named King Cone by an earlier team who climbed a different route—also by two pitches on its west face (5.7). Finally, Bowman and Stayner climbed the western Tower 11,320+', the central tower as seen from the valley below, by one easy pitch on its west ridge (5.3).

Joe Kelsey

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