Monday, August 30, 2010

Wind River Reflections

Christie Smith and I (Scotty McGee) set off for this southern Wind River Range smorgasbord of granite, just south of the renowned Cirque of the Towers, in search of some time in a pristine setting on stellar rock. Fulfilling a dream to find great climbing and camping was not as far-fetched as one might think...

Clear Lake Basecamp, August 25

Dinner down by the lake provided a spectacular sunset show on Haystack's west face. Steeple and East Temple Peaks over to the right.

Wolf's Head Alpine Start, August 26
After a first night at Clear Lake under 'perfect' weather conditions, we woke early catching early sun on Warbonnet on our way to Wolf's Head in the Cirque of the Towers.


Temple and Schiestler on Ford Lake in the quiet dawn

Walking the Rocks around Ford Lake

The Cirque comes into full view with Pingora casting her shadow on Wolf's Head's summit pinnacles.

Arrowhead Lake couldn't be better named.

The Cirque's gateway falls

Wolf's Head starting ramp, 1st pitch

...just a casual climber...

...puttin' vertical behind her...

...and smilin' all the way!

The "fortuitous horizontal foot traverse"...too bad about the weather, huh?

The way home, moonlit miles to go before we sleep.

August 28, attempt on Haystack

We head up in hopes of climbing one of the northern routes on Haystack, with growing views as we climb.

View from Haystack's north shoulder of E. Temple, with Deep Lake in front

Later on, a thunderstorm. Strike on Haystack! (at 33 seconds)
Our position was away from the lake and well below the ridge with much higher points all around, making us an unlikely target for lightning.

Despite turning bluebird after each ferocious crescendo of flash and rumble, the weather seemed to turn to fall in a matter of hours and many more leaves took on the red mantle of fall. The grouseberries were still popping but the sense that snow is on the way was hard to shake. Some climbing rescue, leading and rope practice rounded out our visit to Clear Lake. So much left unclimbed, we're bound to return.

Scott McGee coaches the PSIA Nordic Team (USA) and manages programs for Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School in Wyoming. Scott spends his summers guiding climbs in the Tetons (and other ranges) for Exum Mountain Guides.

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