Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft (303 m), 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Bill Buckingham, Bill Plummer, 1959
Page Views: 156,495 total · 717/month
Shared By: Monty on Aug 11, 2006 · Updates
Admins: Mike Snyder, Taylor Spiegelberg, Jake Dickerson

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Description Suggest change

This route goes up the knife blade east ridge of Wolfs Head. 

Approach:

To get on the ridge there are 2 different options. The easiest way to gain the ridge is to scramble 4th and 5th class up the gully in between Pingora and Tiger Tower. Summit Tiger Tower, then do two, 40ft raps on to the east ridge of Wolfs Head (see picture on wolfs head page). The other way, is to scramble 4th class up the south face (the grassy ledges approach) then up to the ridge.

Climb:

Once on the ridge the climb goes at about 10 pitches but many of these can be combined or simul-climbed. It is recommend to simul climb to the first tower pitch, then climb four pitches, and again simul climb to the summit.

1.) Start by moving west along the ridge aiming for a 30ft slab that's about 3ft wide with a 30 degree slope. Scamper across this beautifully exposed bridge (5.2), then run the rope out across the top of the ridge (easy climbing) until you end at the first tower by stepping down (to the south) about 10 feet under the tower. Here you’ll see a short traverse and some rappel slings for a different route.

2.) This is the first of the tower pitches. Pass this tower to the south by making a exposed step around a boulder. After this look up and you'll see a chimney in between the towers, go through this chimney (tight squeeze) to gain a ledge on the north side of the next tower.

3.) Traverse onto the slab for the "piton pitch". Follow 4 or 5 pitons for some delicate exposed face climbing (5.6). After the last piton go straight up and belay on the nice ledge.

4.) The best pitch of the climb. From the belay move straight up the layback flake for 20ft. Once on top, go up a finger crack for 10 feet to gain a beautiful hand crack traverse 5.6 (still on the north). After the traverse move up to the top of the knife blade ridge for some beautifully exposed climbing. At this point you should be eye level with the "Darth Vader Tower". Belay in an overhang on the south side of the ridge under the tower.

5.) From the belay move out on to the south face to traverse a 4 inch crack. Going feet in the crack is easier but hard to protect. You'll see a chimney down left, aim for this. Follow a slanting hand traverse using "black nubbins" to gain the chimney. Climb the chimney until you see a hole that you can dive through to bring you back to the north side of the ridge. Belay on a ledge on the north side of the ridge.

6.) From here you can simul climb to the summit staying mainly on the north side of the ridge, and moving to the south side just before the summit.

Descent: 

The rappels take you down to the west off the summit with some short hiking/scrambling between, then traverse south to the gully in between Wolfs Head and Overhanging tower. All the raps can be done with one 60m. See topo photo for more information.

1.) From the summit, make a short down climb move to gain the first bolted rappel station

2.) Make a rappel directly to the west to gain the second bolted rappel station. It is located on a slab above a foot ledge, adjacent to the old tat around a boulder.

3.) Make another rappel to the ground below. Walk skier's left, then to the right. Before making an awkward scramble move to the old tat station look for the third set of bolted anchors on the right.

4.) Make another rappel to the end of the rope past a slab and then some broken ledges. From here you walk skier's left again then scramble down to the right to find another bolted rappel (number four). The next rappel is close enough that you can pull the rope from the last rappel directly to this one without recoiling but beware of dragging a loose rock.

5.) Make another rappel to the end of the rope, then walk/scramble some ways to the left (south). The way is pretty obvious, and you'll run into another bolted rappel on your left (number five).

6.) Rappel to the west again. From here there are numerous ways to go and many cairns, but the best way would be to traverse towards the gully separating Wolf's Head from Overhanging Tower. You want to end up about 150 feet below the highest point of the far south end of the Wolf's Head ridge. Here there is a tat anchor that looks like it won't reach until you scramble lower and peer over the edge. This rappel should place you just a few feet below the saddle.

The trails are well worn, and the stations are pretty easy to find.

Protection Suggest change

Standard alpine rack. Doubles of everything to #2 camalot. A single #3 is very useful and recomended. 1 60m will suffice, but being an alpine climb having 2 ropes will make it much faster to bail in event of a storm. I brought 2 ropes and was very upset to only use 1 the entire climb.

Photos

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