American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Wind River Mountains, South Continental Tower, Continental Drifters

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

South Continental Tower, Continental Drifters. From the idyllic upper meadows of the Little Sandy Valley, the South Continental Tower consists of a lower west-facing wall separated from the freestanding summit pinnacle by a large talus bench. In 1994 Joe Kelsey and Paul Horton scaled the lower wall via the northwest arête, continued up the west ridge of the summit pinnacle, and were surprised to encounter ancient soft-iron pitons. Apparently, an unknown party bypassed the lower wall via a talus gully to the southwest and made the first ascent of the South Tower via the west ridge of the summit pinnacle.

On August 11 Nick Stayner and I established an excellent new route up the west face of the lower wall. We began a couple of hundred feet right of the northwest arête and linked dihedral systems for five pitches, before joining the northwest arête for the sixth pitch, which reaches the talus bench. We then scaled the obvious crack cleaving the center of the south face of the summit pinnacle in a 70m pitch. Continental Drifters (IV 5.11a) provides 1,100' of stellar rock and engaging climbing. Unfortunately, the 5th pitch crux finger crack is rather gritty, and was aided on lead and freed on second. It awaits a free lead, and should clean up nicely if it receives a few more ascents.

Trevor Bowman

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