Mountain Project Logo

Alpine Trad Rack/Advice for Cirque Du Towers


Original Post
Eli Sorna · · ohio · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

I am looking at getting more into Alpine climbing and I was thinking of aiming at the Cirque Du Towers for my first routes sometime this spring/summer. After I went backpacking through there in August I can not wait to get back and get on the routes for Wolfs Head, Pingora, and Warbonnet Peak. I have sport lead 5.11+ and trad lead 5.10a I believe this should be sufficient for completing any moves on the 5.6-5.8 routes.
I have a few questions about total gear needed and if I have what I would need. Obviously I don't plan on carrying all this but alittle clearer on what I would or wouldn't need would be great. Is there anything I don't have that I should acquire? ADDITION: This is pretty much the sum of my gear right now I would be crazy to think I need or would carry all this. Also I have done several class 3 routes on 14ers. I also have anchor building experience. I spent 2 weeks in Zion canyoneering using mostly natural anchors not with cams or nuts but webbing so I understand the forces and points to good anchor building. Thanks again for all the activity on here first time poster and very satisfied with all the great feedback!
Is Alpine like this something myself and a friend could do with minimal multipitch experience (There are only 3 routes in the RRG I know of and have done) if we both are competent climbers and have summited several 14ers with extensive backpacking experience.

BD c4 cams-1x size 0.5, 1x size 0.75, 2x size 1, 2x size 2, 2x size 3, 1x size 4,
2 Sets of Nuts 1-10, Hexs 7-11, 25' Mil Spec Webbing for anchors, 25' 6mm accessory cord, 2 pre-tied Prussiks, 70m Rope, 2x Mammut Wall Alpine Belay Device, 1xGriGri2, 1xLHAscender, 4xAutolock Carabiner, 4xscrewgate, 3xQuickLink, 2xrappel ring,
Slings 2x80cm, 2x120cm, Sterling PAS x2
Draws- 4xMammut Alpine Draw (60cm sling), 12 Mad rock draws (6 cm)

Kevin Bradford · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 80

I would leave the gri gri in Kentucky, pick up a few smaller cams and a buttload of shoulder length slings.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

It's been about 3 years since I was there, but it seems like a double set of cams would be good, but again, I don't remember very well. Alpine draws would be good, the Wolfs Head wanders a bit and rope drag can be an issue. I don't think you would need an ascender for any reason. Bring 20' of webbing for rap anchors in case the tat is in bad condition or missing, or if you end up having to bail and build your own anchors; lots of good horns and holes so you probably wouldn't have to leave gear.

Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 130

You definitely have the climbing skills to tackle these routes, but I would strongly encourage you to get some multipitch experience before heading out there. These routes follow lines of weakness and it is easy to get lost in the endless web of cracks and dihedrals high off the ground. Getting off route can quickly get you into trouble regardless of how hard you can climb.

I would suggest that you go down to NC this fall/winter/spring and get on some of the classic multipitch moderates at Linville Gorge and Looking Glass. Get a feel for the transitions, anchor building and route finding that come with multipitch and you will have much more fun in the Winds. Also expect thunderstorms and hail while you're climbing in the Winds, and get used to making the hard decisions of whether to keep climbing or bail. Last time I was on Pingora my partner and I spent an hour standing on a little ledge in a thunderstorm.

mark felber · · Wheat Ridge, CO · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 28

Springtime and early summer in the Winds usually involves a fair bit of snow travel. You might have a better time if you did your trip in late July or August.

If you can get comfortable simul-climbing or 3rd classing on easy ground you can save a lot of time on longer routes. This is especially true on Wolf's Head.

Leave the 6cm draws, just bring alpine draws and the 120cm slings. A 240cm sling might be nice, too. Use the rope to clove hitch into the anchor, no need for a PAS.

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

I would say for anything over 5.8, a double rack is nice but not necessary; also, emphasis on .75-2 on stuff under 5.8. Lots of the routes on Pingora feature flaring cracks that aren't really suited to cams (NE Face and E Face come to mind). Anything under 5.8, a single rack of cams and lots of nuts will suffice. I did E Ridge of Wolfs Head with 3 sets of nuts and even that was overkill.

Like Alexander said, be confident in route finding skills. The peaks in the Cirque don't look big, but ARE big. Don't underestimate the terrain: it's big and wild. The best way I can describe it is being swallowed by the terrain. Especially on "easy" ground, its easy to get off-route.

Best time to climb is July, but this will also be the most crowded (crowded is a very subjective term in the Winds). Try to find more obscure routes (not that you will be waiting in line for anything). Some of the most fun routes I've climbed in the Winds were ones that I pulled out from the old Bonney guidebook. Kelsey's guide also has more obscure routes.

Have fun! The rock in the Cirque is some of the best in the lower 48. I've never seen more than a loose pebble on any route I've ever climbed on Pingora or Wolfs Head.

Eli Sorna · · ohio · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0

Thanks everyone who has commented so far and anyone else who reads please feel free to comment and leave your 0.02$ im just trying to gather as much info as I can really appreciate it.

Daryl Allan · · Sierra Vista, AZ · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 970

It's very much a ymmv thing when talking about what an ideal rack is, particularly for alpine. For example, some folks like hauling off till they feel the rope stretching before looking for a suitable anchor placement. Others like to keep the pitches under 1/2 a rope length to keep disaster recovery options wider and/or ease communications. If you're from the latter school of pitching then the light=right rack mindset may suit you. Otherwise a heavy rack may be better.

Like Alexander K said,.. I would suggest pitching out some mp routes that allow for discretionary anchor placement vice hard-established bolted anchors and see what works best for you.

FWIW I humped doubles (slcd's only, single nuts) all the way back to Pyramid lake area (Raid Peak, etc) on my last WR trip and it ended up being overkill. The main reason is that the rock where we were in WR was just so incredibly accommodating. Never at any point can I recall being limited to a single piece for pro. There were almost always several options, at which point I default to passive but your style may vary. This being the case, I would frequently be building an anchor with nearly a full double rack of cams.

Anyway, something to think about. :)

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

You will want more alpine draws (all), probably some small cams, I would probably leave the hexes in a box in your basement, and more experience multipitch climbing.

I would second the Linville recommendation. Not only is it a sweet place to climb but there are tons of moderate 3-5 pitch routes.

I like belaying with a grigri but I usually leave it behind on multipitch stuff.

Also I love DMM offset nuts. They are great in NC, were awesome in Yosemite. If you were going to take 2 sets of nuts and less cams I would have 1 set traditional and one set offset.

Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90
Eli Sorna wrote:There are only 3 routes in the RRG I know of and have done
There are definitely more than 3 multi-pitch routes in the Red with-in your stated range (all trad). Most only 2 pitch, but a few that are, or can be, 3. Which have you done?
blakeherrington · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 1,040

You're focusing too much on the gear (and planing on bringing too much gear with you) and not enough on the climbing.

Given your background of limited crack climbing, limited route finding, and limited experience on longer routes, those will be far more important to your trip than the gear specifics.

But regarding the gear list:

- Don't bring your quicklinks
- Don't bring your rappel rings
- Don't bring the bulk webbing
- Don't bring 3 different belay devices
- Don't bring the hexes
- Don't bring the second set of wired nuts
- Don't bring the PAS/daisy chain
- Swap out 3 or 4 of your short draws for runners with wiregate carabiners
- Bring a double set of cams from purple metolius/blue alien up to #2 camalot, then a couple large cams

Have fun! Knowing the mechanics and procedures for getting up and down long routes will help you far more than tinkering with your gear choices.

Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 380

A double rack of cams with singles of the small (~green/blue/black Alien) and big (~2/3/4 C4), along with a set of nuts, will be plenty of gear (maybe a #5 if you have your eye on one of the few routes that really benefits from one). Pair that with a ton of alpine draws rather than quickdraws (~12). Then strip down all the excess stuff as others have stated. The Winds are a pretty decent hike in, and when you're climbing speed is important due to early afternoon thunderstorms and challenging routefinding/descents. Light is right.

That said, across 2 trips I've found the grades in the Winds to be pretty mild relative to what we see in the northeast (NH, Adirondacks, Gunks). I suspect you'll have no problems climbing at the grade, but be smart and don't start on your hardest objective.

Also nice? Double ropes (know how to use them) and willingness to run pitches together. You're looking to cover lots of ground quickly.

Eli Sorna · · ohio · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
Brian L. wrote: There are definitely more than 3 multi-pitch routes in the Red with-in your stated range (all trad). Most only 2 pitch, but a few that are, or can be, 3. Which have you done?
Cavers Route and Bed time for Bonzo, there is a route in Muir that is ~80' but has chains halfway that is sport that was the first we did. I Think it was Ricki Tikki Tavi at Animal Crackers. Could easily be done in 1 pitch with a 60m rope with some rope drag.
pooch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 65

Eli- RRG is my "home" crag as well, none of the climbs there prepare you for multi-pitch as 1- they are bolted anchors; and 2- the 2nd pitches require you to move to a diff location to start the next pitch, never are you building an anchor to bring up the 2nd who then leaves from that anchor you built.
In the Winds you will never, ever see a bolted anchor or rap station for that matter as everything is off natural features.
I echo that "locally" the Lineville gorge is an excellent option to better practice multi. If you can't get there then at least practice bringing up your 2nd on routes in the rrg from the anchors, or pick routes where you can build an anchor up top, bring up 2nd, then go thru the motions of swapping leads or however you plan going forward.

Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90

I'm sure you can do better elsewhere (Linville's been mentioned I think, Possibly T-Wall in Chatt? I haven't been down that way yet). But there's some local stuff you can still get on too. And if you're practicing technique no reason you can't repeat routes.

Gorge doesn't have many gear belays, but they do exist. Foxfire is one IIRC (technically 4 pitch, but one is a short traverse, and the the last could be pitched out as it's short, but still get's you some experience). Not all of it has you relocating for the next lead belay either.

As for other multi-pitch:
Foxfire at Eagle Point Buttress (5.7)
Good Tang at Lower Small Wall (5.7, but FA by Larry Day, so considered stout for the grade)
Party Time at Fortress (5.7)
Where Lizards Dare at Fortress (3 pitch if you count getting to the ledge via another route below. Last pitch is C2 aid) (5.9+)
Diamond in the Crack at Jewel Pinnacle (5.6, gear anchor on 1st pitch)
Africa at Tower Rock (5.9)
Whiteout at Emerald City (5.8-)

That's off the top of my head.

ColeT Musial · · Cincinnati, OH · Joined May 2012 · Points: 35

Def more than 3 multipitch trad routes in the RRG, i second the climbs in the last post. I really suggest getting on Foxfire (5.7) about 250ft tall ish, it can be done in as little as 3 pitches or up to 5 depending on how you feel about rope drag and your own decisions for pitches, it requires a bit of route finding skills, planning on when to sling pieces long, and the 3rd pitch requires thinking in regards to communication and there are no bolted anchors and the rap is fairly akward. All things you need to develop multipitch skills.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

I'd suggest spending some time doing multi-pitch in NC. Also, Bomb's away in suck creek canyon (chattanooga) can simulate some aspects of the alpine in the winter, plus all natural belays, routefinding, etc.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

For 5.8 and above, I'd bring a double set of cams (right down through microcam size) and a full set of nuts; maybe a set and a half. The smaller cams weigh very little and can make all the difference between R and PG. The double set in general will allow long pitches if you have to with good 3-point anchors at either end.

I'd go with a 60m set of twins or halves, but a 70m single is ok.

I don't think you need the Grigri or the ascender.

I'd take a total of 6 extra-light screw gates, 4-6 free carabiners, 12 alpine quickdraws (no sport quickdraws) two double-length slings, and 4 single-length slings.

The rap rings and quicklinks are a good idea for unplanned retreats. The PAS's are especially good for alpine climbing.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
rgold wrote:The PAS's are especially good for alpine climbing.
I rarely disagree with what you post, but this just doesn't make sense to me. I know you're a fan of PASs for multi-pitch for organization, but to me, the only value in a PAS is for descents involving rappels. In the alpine, your descents are usually walk offs so you'd be fine without a personal tether. For the occasional rap, a double length sling will be adequate enough.
Gavin W · · Surrey, BC · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 183
eli poss wrote: I rarely disagree with what you post, but this just doesn't make sense to me. I know you're a fan of PASs for multi-pitch for organization, but to me, the only value in a PAS is for descents involving rappels. In the alpine, your descents are usually walk offs so you'd be fine without a personal tether. For the occasional rap, a double length sling will be adequate enough.
I'm with you on this. I like using a PAS for convenience on short, easy multipitch routes, but if I'm cutting weight it's one of the first things to go.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525
eli poss wrote: ...this just doesn't make sense to me. I know you're a fan of PASs for multi-pitch for organization, but to me, the only value in a PAS is for descents involving rappels. In the alpine, your descents are usually walk offs so you'd be fine without a personal tether. For the occasional rap, a double length sling will be adequate enough.
Eli, whenever I describe the broad range of uses of an installed tether, it is typical for someone to single out just one use, pretend it is the only use, and then argue that a sling is just as good.

In addition to multipitch organization (I've heard rumors that alpine climbs are sometimes multipitch) and rappel descents (many alpine climbs have descents involving rappels, and alpine weather sometimes forces you to rap the route you've been climbing), installed tethers are useful in setting up on-the-fly belay anchors for short sections when a party is moving together, and for transferring from soloing with the rope coiled to belaying or rappelling. They facilitate cleaning stuck pieces and simplify emergency prussiking. They are by no means essential, but speed up a host of disparate activities, and increased speed in an alpine environment is always a good thing. The argument that they are somehow too heavy or too bulky, considering the load of gear most climbers carry nowadays, is close to absurd.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply