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Taking the right K crack!  5.8+ with a couple memorable moves.
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Sep 14, 2014
Taking the right K crack! 5.8+ with a couple memorable moves.  
This is more popularly known as the Figure 8 Cracks cuz the overall view from below forms an obvious figure 8 shape.

This can also be a serious traffic jam with parties climbing up & those rapelling down. If below the rappellers, let them know there are climbers below them; warn them not to drop their lawn chairs.

In bad weather, be on the hustle cuz storms/wind can slam this particular section; the summit offers no cover. In fact, Wolf's Head's spine is a perfect place to funnel wind into the cirque.

NOTE: Pingora is NOT considered the Wolf's Head climb even though they meet at the same spot in a small col. A good outing (requiring an early start) is doing Pingora (much harder than Wolf's Head - do not underestimate, but Pingora is a classic -must do).

Many who enchain Pingora with Wolf's Head have underestimated Pingora (i.e.,spent too much time & energy doing Pingora) & continue on to Wolf's Head find the less-than-straight forward winding & dead end turns of the Wolf's Head route even less appealing.

When on Pingora route, cannot directly see weather conditions but can see the mare's tales.

I would only recommend a Pingora -Wolf's head linkup to parties that know the route, or at least one of the two main climbs.


The biggest & most serious mistake a party can make on Wolf's Head (and remnants of old, long ropes flowing horizontally across the upper southern walls of The Wolf will testify to this) is to bail for one reason or another off either side at approximately half way across the ridge.

At this point, you are too committed to down climb to the beginning of the climb and it's a crappy down climb cuz thin in spots (but I've never done it, know others who attempted it; was really a series of low-angle rappels, many of them 'flopping' over to one side of the ridge or the other.

What looks temptingly simply is raps down one side or another of the ridge & slither into a warm tent is anything but that unless seasoned in doing this.

If you rap on the north side (to climber's right when heading for Wolf Head's summit block), you are now in Alpine terrain, inc. crevasses (you will have zero tools), a setting sun & long haul down and west & around the tongue of the buttress - the least desirable of the two evils (the first being going off the west side of spine).

The only way to bail if halfway is to do so on the SOUTH SIDE of the spine and that requires two 70's. The rappels are not straightforward and if the wind is blowing & you are on an overhang, you will twist in the wind, all the while seeing & hearing the toasty climbers singing Bob Dylan songs on your behalf.

As of several years ago, there were at least three, very long ropes standing straight out in the wind, hugging the rock, just down from the dinosaur spine. A bit sobering when looking up at the tiny string of rope, screaming in the wind. At least one party must have had an epic.


Final bit of advice: finding yourself at the correct rappel station at the end of Wolf's Head can also be a make-break good time. After standing on the summit block, make a tricky move or two down the ridge to the Col in a WESTERLY direction, perhaps a bit further than makes sense wherein you will find at least two sets of bomber rings & chains.

That's the ticket home via a long but safe grassy down climb (careful not to twist your ankle, esp. in the dark; it's not a golf course. BONUS: there is water.

The mistake of missing the proper set of chains are specially reserved for those trying to get off the ridge too soon after the summit block, thus, a climbing party will come across several rap anchors lower & lower down the ridge but also lower & lower in elevation. Everyone think's they're stylin.....

This is a trap because you will be headed for an overhanging rappel that I & buddies have a personal relationship with. It was so black that the light from our headlights were black, a mystery of physics.

I recall at least one of us had to prussik (!!!!!!) back up one of our ropes to gain purchase with the rock, pull the rope up & over, set up a virgin rap station. One by one we went down, finally to the section of grass hummocks where one could walk off.

And water....were so parched we could barely talk.

Honestly, it was an epic & for reasons that were avoidable, notably Wolf's Head was the first climb she had been on beyond Grade II's. Great, cooperative, careful not once did she complain but it ate time.

We swore we would never go on a 'bigger' mountain than what we had been used to in the lowlands

Thus began a journey still in the making that took all four of us all over the world, from the Himalayas, Puncak Jaya, Canada, the Alps, & South America.

Have a great time on Wolf's Head, and though easy (w/a few off routes here & there -- so what), it's an iconic climb and I do tire silently when listening to those few who found it not worth their time.

More name-branders have done Wolf's Head & loved it, remember(ed) it; for some, it was seminal in their climbing careers. Mar 15, 2017

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