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South Buttress

5.8, Trad, Alpine, 500 ft, 4 pitches, Grade II,  Avg: 3.3 from 215 votes
FA: Wally Green, Bill Primak 1951
Wyoming > Wind River Range > Cirque of the T… > Pingora


A nice little route with two really nice pitches. This description is for the 5.8 variation, but the route goes at 5.6 also.

P1: After the 4th class scramble to the start, climb a nice r-facing corner system for a long pitch (maybe some simul climbing is necessary) to a little perch at the foot of a clean wall with a crack that splits. (5.7, 200ft)

P2: For the 5.6 variation head left to a dihedral. For the 5.8 variation, head straight up the fine crack (wide to start, then hand/finger) and at the split head left. This sews up and is the best pitch of the route.

P3: Easy scrambling to the top.


Scramble up to the base of the shoulder via 4th class sections on the east side. Descent: rap off fixed anchors using two ropes then downclimbing.


Standard rack

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Top of the K Cracks father/son photo.
[Hide Photo] Top of the K Cracks father/son photo.
Top of Pingora
[Hide Photo] Top of Pingora
Sweet 5.8 crack section
[Hide Photo] Sweet 5.8 crack section
Leading Left "K" crack
[Hide Photo] Leading Left "K" crack
Enjoying P2
[Hide Photo] Enjoying P2
Fast on the draw, Carl P atop Pingora.  Climbing 2008, shorts circa 1985.
[Hide Photo] Fast on the draw, Carl P atop Pingora. Climbing 2008, shorts circa 1985.
A little Yoga on top of Pingora
[Hide Photo] A little Yoga on top of Pingora
Jen coming up the K Crack.
[Hide Photo] Jen coming up the K Crack.
Zoe on K cracks
[Hide Photo] Zoe on K cracks
Gokul, on the K crack
[Hide Photo] Gokul, on the K crack
Notice the obvious K-Cracks.
[Hide Photo] Notice the obvious K-Cracks.
Gokul, top of pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Gokul, top of pitch 2

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Rob Hyldahl
Provo, UT
[Hide Comment] Excellent route! Fairly short and un-commiting (by wind river standards) but you can't beat the setting and the superb rock. The 5.8 variation (k-crack) made the route! It was definitely one of the best single pitches of climbing that i've ever done. The descent is easy and straight-forward. All in all a great route to begin with if you are new to the Winds. Jul 29, 2006
Armin climber
Westminster, CO
[Hide Comment] can run P'1-2 together w/ 70m, just barely reaches belay ledge. The crux of the climb will probably be the approach, unless you are an anaerobic machine Aug 22, 2006
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
[Hide Comment] 1993: Rained on for 6 days, 7th day dawned very clear, did this route on that final day with Fred Batliner. K-Crack was superb, very similar to a Joshua Tree pitch, but in a wonderful American West alpine setting.

The route is also a great quick way off Pingora. Nov 11, 2006
Hayduke Cloud
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] The above route description is a little mis-leading. What the author is calling the 'first pitch' is actually about 240-250 ft long. Your second could certainly simul-climb, as the climbing is moderate, but there is no way to stretch the rope and gain the base of the K-crack. Maybe with a 70m, but even that would be pushing it. Probably best to break it into two pitches. This is a fantastic little climb, and the K-crack variation is certainly worth all the fuss. Descent can be made with one 60m rope via four rappels from the top of the K-crack. You may have to downclimb a little bit of 5.0 on a couple of the rappels. Jul 5, 2007
[Hide Comment] If you are doing the Cirque Traverse, this is the easiest/fastest way to get to the top of Pingora. You can simul-climb the last bit of pitch one/two(probably 220 feet) and then hurry up the K crack pitch (pitch 3 as described in Bechtel's guide), then scramble up to the top. We did it in about 40 minutes and we weren't moving too fast. The rappel down to the notch by Tiger Tower/Wolf's Head is not as obvious as described in the new guide. You need to head to climber's left to get to the second rappel station, don't head down the most obvious line on the first rappel (you can see the rappel slings from the first station and they are not at the base of the dihedral that you see from the first rappel station). It's four rappels with a sixty meter to the notch and some of the slings on the rappel are not in the best shape. Aug 17, 2008
G. Neely
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] The 5.8 (K-Crack) variation is fantastic. It protects well-go for it! Aug 30, 2009
Mark Thomas
[Hide Comment] If you link this with the East Face Left Side Cracks it makes for a great full day. Aug 31, 2010
Salt Lake City
[Hide Comment] Long approach.. Easy breeze for the first two pitches with easy fun granite cracks. Base of the 3rd pitch is wide and roomy, with lots of rooms for multiple parties. The 5.6 crack to the right that you can climb in variation to the K crack, is more like 5.7. The right K crack I found moderately easy, 5.6-5.7. On the second rappel, if you have one rope you have to rap over to a right ledge with more rap slings on the right. Make it down straight forward from there. A 60 meter will NOT make it, bring a 70 meter. Sep 25, 2010
Liz Donley
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Short for the area, but good for a relatively easy day, or a day when the weather is iffy. Since the rappels are so close to the route, you can get down easily at any time by heading left from the climb. Sep 30, 2010
Oakland Park, Florida
[Hide Comment] Less serious than it looks, this climb has some fantastic climbing. P2 is really sweet and the "k" crack finish 5.8, is definetly a beautiful pitch. Awesome summit and views from Pingora make this an easy, beautiful alpine climb. Aug 23, 2011
[Hide Comment] 1.5 hour approach to base of pitch one. can run pitch 1&2 together with a 70m rope. the 5.8 K crack pitch was fantastic! Aug 28, 2011
flagstaff, AZ
[Hide Comment] Leisurely start- left camp after 9am. Climbed it as 4 pitches: linked first two- minimal pro placed to diminish drag, then short corner to traverse- easy with great views, then the long dihedral pitch -felt the most difficult, then finished on the "Best 5.6 Ever" left of the K Crack, also did and enjoyed the K Crack but IMHO the 5.6 was more memorable. Late lunch on top, napping in the meadow by mid afternoon. 1 70M easily gets you off, a 60M would work with 2 short easy downclimbs. Rack: set of nuts, single set cams to #3camalot, 6slings. 4*'s! Sep 15, 2011
Garret Nuzzo-Jones
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] We ended up climbing several pitches to the left of the corner. More in line with the K cracks. They went at something a little stouter than 5.6. Somewhere around 5.7 with an awkward flaring chimney/offwidth that is difficult to protect. Interesting, but not super classic. The final 5.6 variation is excellent though and protects well. Jul 8, 2013
Chris Dickson
Telluride, CO
[Hide Comment] My partner and I found that this route can be rapped with just one 60m rope (despite what some of the above comments say) in 4 rappels. The 2nd rap is a FULL 100ft rappel, so watch your ends, but we did it this way without any problems. Aug 4, 2015
[Hide Comment] I'll see Chris' 60m bid, and "raise" to 50. I rapped Pingora 4 times in the last couple weeks, all with a single 50m rope. I down climbed nothing but the absolute lowest bit to the big traverse ledge back towards the approach ridge. I used that same 50m on the Wolfs Head descent too. I had a tag line, but next time in there I won't bring it. It goes like this:

-rap number one to a likely seldom used, slung thread climbers left of the K Cracks. Exactly 25 m.
-rap number two back climbers right, short (12m?), to another slung horn, this one with tons of slings. Here's where you end up on rap 1 with a 70m
-rap 3 straight down, about 20m. To an excellent stance with a funny, double-body-size protruding horn.
-Number 4 goes straight down too, to a slung thread at a small stance.
-Number 5. 25m gets you to the top of a fourth class down climb onto walking terrain.

Just another option, if you want to stop the absurd rope-length inflation! You're walking 9 miles in, why carry pounds of extra rope? Sep 10, 2015
[Hide Comment] I'm confused.. bechtel's book has two pitches before the k cracks, 220ft total both at 5.6.. did you climb the corners to the left of the route? because those are 5.7's.
P1-"climb up ledges and cracks to a right-facing handcrack dihedral. climb this past small ledges to a nice belay on a large ledge. 100 feet"

Here's a pic I ripped from one of the posts here. Tried to outline what I thought was the route. Some disparities between guidebooks, which is weird considering it seems like such a straightforward climb. Let me know if I screwed anything up!
Jul 15, 2016
Floyd Hayes
[Hide Comment] If there is a class 3 way of getting to the main cracks, my partner and I didn't find it. From a big ledge at what appeared to be the base of the climb, we climbed the right crack (5.5 with rap rings at the top) of a short wall (40') to a big ledge where the main cracks begin about 15' to the right. We then climbed two pitches (80' and 170') to the base of K-Crack. Above K-Crack it is class 3 to the summit, there is no need to stay roped. ADDED LATER: Now I see why we needed an extra pitch, we started below and left of the start in the photo above this comment. Aug 15, 2016
Nathan G
[Hide Comment] Amazing route. Couldn't find the class three start to the base of the first pitch, so we roped up early and we able to do it in 3 long pitches plus the class 3 scrambling at the top. On a side note - why has no one mentioned the heinous approach? We did the 6 miles to Big Sandy Lake in 2 hours and it took another 2.5ish to go the additional 3 miles to the cirque. This was with heavy packs which didn't help. All the climbers we ran in to on the trail were shocked at how long/steep the last 2 miles of the trail were. Anyway, this route and the cirque as a whole were awesome. Aug 7, 2017