After spending a month in Wyoming's Wind River Range, I apparently hadn't had enough. Ava and I decided to begin the second part of our climbing road trip by heading into the Cirque of the Towers, which, as the name suggests, is an amazing cirque lined with granite towers on nearly all sides. The abundance of clean alpine granite lines in this area is astounding. This is located only a few miles south of where my course passed by just days earlier (we intentionally avoided the area due to its reputation for being crowded).
Before I begin to recount these adventures, please follow my logic: Cirque of the Towers - C of the Ts - Sea of the Tease. Thank you.
We backpacked into the cirque on our first day with plans of achieving alpine glory on the subsequent two or three days. The weather was questionable nearly the entire time, but we went for it anyway and were glad that we did.
|Pingora on the right, with Wolf's Head just to the left and behind Pingora|
|Leading up the first pitch of the South Buttress (look at those pretty new ropes!)|
|The "K" Crack Pitch|
|A Craig Weiland inspired summit shot on Pingora|
|Our camp with Pingora and Wolf's Head in the background|
Once on the ridge, the reason this climb is so famous slaps you in the face. The first part of the east ridge varies from 1-foot to about 6-feet wide and is split by a crack that provides excellent protection as it ascends toward the jagged summit ridge. Considering the shear drop off on both sides of the ridge makes its position splendid. Despite the dramatic position, the climbing is relatively easy until the towers along the summit ridge are encountered, at which point the route finding and climbing difficulties increase. The exposure below us was made more real when we were forced to traverse around some of the towers.
|Feeling the exposure (notice the climbing shoe camouflage)|
|The blocky towers of the summit ridge|
|Ava traversing under one of the summit towers with lots of air below|
We had optimistically hoped to climb the Northeast Face of Pingora on the following day, but due to several factors including: copious amounts of rain the night before, our bodies feeling the ware of the previous three days, sustained difficulty of the route, continuing questionable weather, and consideration of opportunity costs, we opted to hike out and head for the Tetons. I hope to return to this amazing cirque many times in the future as the number of incredible alpine granite lines is practically limitless.