Type: Trad, Alpine, 1200 ft, 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Daley and Yensan, 1962, FFA Frishman and Krisjansons
Page Views: 63,553 total · 407/month
Shared By: Mark Boissevain on May 18, 2006
Admins: Lauren Heerschap, Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

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Classic Wind River climb! Incredibly consistent, classic, sustained (at the grade) backcountry climbing in the west. Classic enough that it made the 50 classicly crowded climbs book, so expect parties to be in the area vying for the early slot. Be prepared to start early anyway to avoid afternoon t-storms that one can't see until they come over the formation from the southwest. You'll see what the fuss is over, though, with the great views, exposure, and beautiful climbing that every pitch offers. Route finding skills will be put to the test in a couple key locations, and retreat after the first 300 feet will be a challenge.

Head up the 3rd class ramp that heads toward the sloping ledge system, traverse and/or downclimb to reach the ledge, thinking about the 2nd as you place gear. Belay just past the ledge where good pro presents itself in the left leaning ramp that leads to the dihedral with a prominent roof.

Climb the dihedral, either belaying below or after the roof.

Climb a long pitch, starting first right, then back left to a fun 5.8 crack and belay.

Ascend the left leaning system of ledges and dihedral cracks for at least 2 pitches (even with a 60m). The Kelsey topo forgets how long this section is. Going right early will end in a dead end.

Do finally head right with some spaced pro up the ledges until the 5.8 flare and 5.9 3" variation become unmistakable back to the left. Struggle up the flare to easier ground and belay left at the ledge.

Continue leftward, past a large flake and up to belay at the base of a crack leading to a chimney continue up or step again left and continue the crack system to for a long pitch and belay.

Head up to the base of either of two chimney systems. Another pitch up either of the chimney sections leads to the east ledges platform.

Another pitch awaits to the upper summit. Ascend to the top, then make a short rappel to gain the summit proper.

Walk/scramble over then down the 3rd class gully to the south to reach the South Face/K cracks rappels (two ropes recommended) 3 or 4 raps lead to the ledge that heads further left to the South Buttress descent.


Cirque of the Towers. Find trails at the north side of the lake at the base, hike left of stream into rock field and scramble left, left of the prominent base of a gently curving ledge that becomes a long dihedral ending at a roof. Rack up on the low-angle rock, then head left up the 3rd-class ramp. Don't be surprised if the start seems somewhat exposed as you head to the left.


Standard Winds rack, pro to 4" (for the 5.8 flare it's nice to have). Nuts and cams to 1" come in handy, and doubles 1" to 2", one 3", one 4". Little fixed gear, and you probably should prepare to back that up.

This will be 12-13 long pitches with a 50m rope, even though the Kelsey topo shows 11. A 60m rope can conveniently reduce that by 2.
Kelsey's topo is completely off. If you wish to adhere to his maxim of minimal, and in this case, incorrect, information ignore this link. Below is a link to Bruce Binder's ( brutusofwyde ) excellent and detailed NE of Pingora topo from SummitPost:

summitpost.org/view_object.… May 26, 2006
Armin climber
Westminster, CO
Armin climber   Westminster, CO
I did this route and thought you could get by without the #4, just bump your #3 camalot (or Equiv) up another foot once you make the move at the crux. I haven't lead anything over 10c trad. Also, on brutus topo from summitpost belay right of where it says to belay for pitch 8 after making the traverse to a much better stance, below the word "flake" on the topo. Sounds complicated but once you are there you will see it.
-Armin Aug 21, 2006
Peter Gram
Portland, OR
Peter Gram   Portland, OR  
I also didn't think the #4 camalot was necessary, or even useful. I think I placed it in an anchor at one point, but never needed it during the wide pitch. Aug 29, 2006
This is one of the few climbs that wholeheartedly deserves to be in the 50 classics. Superb route. Warning, weather in the Cirque is crazy. No warning when coming. Mar 31, 2007
Portland, OR
rpc   Portland, OR
Fun climb. My wife & I did this on a 3day weekend from Portland and so I mostly remember the driving :)
Another vote for Brutus' topo on summitpost above (excellent!). Mar 21, 2008
Anyone been up here yet this year? I am going to try this 4th of July weekend. Any beta on conditions is much aprreciated. Jun 30, 2008
Salt Lake City, Utah
Nubbins80   Salt Lake City, Utah
What is the best way to find the rap route off the top of Pingora Aug 18, 2008
Matt Stamplis
Boston, MA
Matt Stamplis   Boston, MA
Regarding the rappel: the easiest way down is to reverse the South Buttress. From the summit look out towards Jackass Pass and Warbonnet Peak - you'll be descending in that general direction. Look for a gully marked with a cairn: easy scrambling for a hundred feet or so leads to a ledge with no easy way down. Peak over the edge and look for a slung chockstone. From there, I think the rap stations were all pretty obvious - a single 70m rope worked well (60 reportedly is OK too).

I remember doing 4 rappels or so to reach a good ledge. From here you walk skier's left and follow the cairns as they head down the South Buttress - should be no harder than 2nd/3rd class. Aug 21, 2008
Josh Fog
Josh Fog  
I got off route on pitch 8. The book was very unspecific about the traverse left into another crack system. I continued up the crack which gets to be thin 5.10 fingers PG-13. The next pitch i went through the wide section that the book tells you to ignore which tops out back on route. This pitch was not bad, fun vedauwoo style wide crack! Aug 8, 2011
Johnson City, TN
Chrisleath   Johnson City, TN
Watch out for mosquitos! Other than that greatest climb I have had the privilege of doing. Apr 16, 2012
Anyone know exactly (month/date) when the FFA was made?
Jul 17, 2012
stuck to the topo best we could, but im pretty sure we only climbed like 30% of the actual route Mar 9, 2013
John Groh
John Groh  
I think we got off route for 2-3 pitches and encountered climbing in the solid 5.10 range.

Also, don't trust the Bechtel guide. For starters, it incorrectly lists the number of rappels to get off the summit! It also calls the crux pitch of the route 5.6, which is certainly not the case (I only know it was the crux pitch because we ran into a local from Lander exactly there).

Awesome climb, though. Loooooong. Aug 30, 2013
Charlie S
Ogden, UT
Charlie S   Ogden, UT
Yet another vote for the BrutusOfWyde topo from Summitpost. Between that and studying a number of pictures available online, sticking to the route was easier than expected.

This is a cool route up a cool rock in a very cool setting. I used literally every anchor building technique I'd ever learned on this route. It is not for the budding 5.8 climber. Efficiency and proficiency are key to summiting in a reasonable amount of time. Jul 26, 2014
Alex Warren
Duluth, MN
Alex Warren   Duluth, MN
Did it in 8 pitches (including the slab traverse at the bottom and excluding the scramble at the top). Lots of ledges to belay from, so my 2 cents for anyone doing their research is :

1) Stay in the right facing corners. It goes more or less straight up. Don't follow roofs, easy lines, etc. Just climb the right facing corner.

2) Make your pitches super long. My partner and myself would climb until we reached a ledge and had no gear or rope left. Did it with a double and had no problems. I mean, if you're here to climb then climb a bunch! Aug 20, 2014
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
Regarding the crux pitch 7:

For most, it will seem clear which of several cracks is the "5.8 wide" option (i.e., the one on the far left).

There seems to be some question in the community regarding which of the other cracks is the 5.9 variation shown in most topos out there (e.g., the SummitPost.org topo ).

See this
Crux pitch of NE Face, Pingora. Photo credit: from a trip report by SuperTopo user PellucidWombat (supertopo.com/tr/Pingora-NE…) Based on the below link to an MP.com discussion, the left-most crack is the 5.8 wide option; the thinner middle crack is the 5.9 option that eventually (i.e., mid-pitch) merges with the left-most crack. Over two days last July, 5 out of 6 parties instead went up the longer crack on the right which seems to be an independent and undocumented variation - at least 1 party unknowingly did so (perhaps all 5); I don't know how it compares to the other two options, but I thought it had some 5.10a/b move or two in it. Perhaps others who have done it and another option will chime in on how they compare to each other. Link to MP.com discussion: mountainproject.com/v/crux-…
for more discussion. Aug 26, 2014
Sean A Smith
South Salt Lake, UT
  5.8 PG13
Sean A Smith   South Salt Lake, UT
  5.8 PG13
We used the topo on Summit Post (see the link on the first comment by Murf) and found it to be pretty good although it does leave out some detail that would be nice to have. We used a 70 meter rope and used both of the alternate belays on the topo. This allowed us to link the end of pitch 6 and all of pitch 7. We also would have liked to link pitch 9 and 10 as they were both quite short. Doing it this way would make the route 8 pitches instead of 10 and saves quite a bit of time. Aug 18, 2015
Peter Howes
Peter Howes  
Had the privilege of climbing this amazing route in August 2015. Here are a few short notes that reiterate what others have said.

Using the Brutus topo ( summitpost.org/pingora-peak… ) and the amazing Wombat trip report ( supertopo.com/tr/Pingora-NE… ) we felt very prepared.

Route finding was surprisingly straight forward. Every time I pulled out the topo and photos I was pretty much exactly where one of the pictures had be taken. I definitely did a wild variation on pitch 9, but only because I was tired and probably rushing (don't do that, it took us just over 6 hours and we aren't fast)

The wide pitch is awesome. Super fun, and protectable. I carried the #4 so I placed it, but I'm quite certain you could bump a #3 and feel comfortable.

I would recommend climbing the k-crack the day before if you've never been up Pingora. This gives you the chance to get the descent dialed and the k-crack is totally rad.

And get the early start! Our alpine start karma gave us the route to ourselves. Could not have been a better climb! Sep 15, 2015
Eli B.
Eli B.  
Fantastic route. We brought a #4 along and found it very useful. For the decent, Don't try and rap from the notch directly below the NE summit (big blocky ledges). Instead, you descend via the gully nearer to the true summit. There will likely be footprints in the dirt and a cairn to indicate the gully. Go down the gully until you reach a ledge. Some short but awkward down climbing will lead you to a less-than-obvious rap station. The rest is straight forward. A single 70m rope worked well. Aug 26, 2016
Lyle Harte
Lyle Harte   Denver
NOTE: This route can be repelled using a single 60m rope. My partner and I brought up two but when we saw how short the repels looked we only used one and were able to get down the K-Crack repels just fine. This does make bailing significantly more difficult, but pick your poison. Also, the pitch after the 5.8 flare is utterly fantastic. My partner climbed it to the full length of a sixty meter just over the roof bulge before the 5.6 chimney and I was awestruck by its quality. Aug 27, 2016
Forrest Williams   Denver
Climbing with a 70m rope my partner and I did this in 7 pitches. However we climbed crack systems to the right to bypass slower parties for about half the route. The climbing was fun and provided s great alternative to the crowded middle pitches. If your leading there at the 5.10 level hop on and cruise right about 70 feet above the dual crack in a large dihedral (pitch 3 on topo?) and continue with 3 full rope lengths till you join a ledge above the off width pitch on the proper climb. Going right at the top up a thin crack to an easy chimney was also a fun alternative ending. Aug 31, 2016
Are there two chimney systems at the top (p10 or so)? We followed the summitpost topo and it matches the description, but it doesn't match this picture: mountainproject.com/v/11099…

The pitch I climbed was pretty easy. 5.6 or so, not sandbagged. It has a very thin crack on the face for a purple TCU, and the chimney follows a left ramp up. We ended up exactly where we should be and unroped and scrambled to the summit. I wouldn't describe the chimney as an open book or anything though. Sep 13, 2017
Ben Thuss
Boulder, CO
Ben Thuss   Boulder, CO
Does anyone know what the typical conditions would be like for the first week in October? Hoping to climb Pingora then but weary of early-season snow potential. Aug 24, 2018
With a 70 it easily goes in 7 pitches. Sep 8, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
If approaching not from Lonesome Lake in the dark, it can be hard to know where to start scrambling up if you stick closely to the base of the wall. I'd recommend staying lower, closer to the lake and then hiking up to the base of the start of the route so you can see the obvious corner that marks the start of the route.

Didn't take a 4, didn't even need my 3. The 5.8 wide section is pretty secure if you commit and can be protected with hand sized gear. The hardest part of the route was just the endurance required to take pitch after pitch of sustained 5.7-5.8 with a pack on lead with slippery polished feet. The final "easy chimney" on the last pitch gave me a good struggle and laugh; those old timers really knew how to chimney climb! Took us 8 pitches (+ a mini pitch for the initial 5.8 face traverse to get to the start of the route) and we were off the summit by 1pm.

Descent was fine with a 60, had to scramble a tiny bit of 4th. Amazing route! Nothing is really that hard, but this route still felt harder overall than alpine 5.9s I've done, even in the Winds, because of the sustained nature of the climbing. Sep 13, 2018