Pensive Tower, Gloomy Ruminations. Over a gorgeous Labor Day weekend, Bryan Schmitz, Neil Kauffman, and I ventured into the West Fork of Rock Creek in the Beartooth Mountains and completed a new route on Pensive Tower. The tower’s west face is bordered on each edge by aesthetic ribs, and the Kennedy-McCarty ascends the left-hand, northern rib. Our route, Gloomy Ruminations (IV 5.10) follows the right-hand rib for eight pitches, most of which were between 60m and 70m long.
We surmounted the lowest band of loose red rock via a right-leaning dihedral near the left edge of the face. Hike right across a scree field to the broken notch below the upper rib. Another blocky, easy pitch leads to the rib proper. From here, the quality of the rock and route improve greatly. Three distinct steps, separated by spacious belay ledges, form the rib. Surmount the first step via a slanting dihedral system just right of the rib crest (5.9). Both the second and third steps tackle vague corner systems just left of the crest. The rib ends in a notch of dark rock below the upper headwall. Pitch six (5.8) ascends short, stacked corners to easier terrain. The crux pitch passes several difficulties, including a tight chimney with a huge hollow flake. The final pitch takes a difficult dihedral (5.9+). Several hundred feet of 3rd and 4th class terrain leads to the summit.