Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Bill Buckingham, Carlos Plummer, 1959
Page Views: 87,890 total · 573/month
Shared By: Monty on Aug 11, 2006
Admins: Lauren Heerschap, Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

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This route goes up the knife blade east ridge of Wolfs Head. To get on the ridge there are 2 different options. IMO 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 3rd and 4th class up the south face then up to the ridge.

Once on the Ridge the climb goes at about 10 pitches but many of these can be combined or simul-climbed. The description below is what worked for us.

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 for 195ft until you find a belay. (mostly exposed 4th class)
2.) From here its roughly 3 pitches of easy 3rd and 4th class climbing along the ridge. This can be easily simul-climbed and highly recommended. End at a ledge 10ft down to the south (left) of the ridge, just before the first tower.
3.) 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 will 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. You can belay here, but I recommend to keep climbing to link this pitch with 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 4in crack. Going feet in the crack is easier but hard to protect. You will see a chimney down left, your aiming 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. (mostly 4th and 5th class)

Descent: There are many ways to descend, the goal is to rap to the west until you can hike south to the gully in between Wolfs Head and Overhanging tower. All the raps can be done with one 60m.
  • All stations contain at least 3 slings. If your rapping off something with less, you may be off route.
1.) Find the slings on the West side of the summit, rap down 80ft to a ledge.
2.) Walk 10ft to the west to find another group of slings in a boulder alcove. Rap 70ft to a ledge.
3.) Walk to the south west along a climbers trail to locate the next set of slings on your right. Rap another 90ft to a ledge.
4.) Carefully scramble down the trail to the next set of slings. Rap another 95ft to a ledge.
5.) If my count is right, here you will walk along a trail for about 400yds to the south toward Overhanging tower. Do another 90ft rap to the saddle in between Wolfs head and Overhanging tower.
6.) Follow the cairns for a while still heading south. Eventually this takes you to a station that will allow you to rap into the gully formed by the saddle. It looks like it should be a double rope rap, but one 60m will be fine. After rapping scramble up the gully to the east bringing you back into the cirque lake basin.

There are many options, and this may sound confusing, but the trails are well worn and marked with cairns, and all the stations were very easy to find.


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.


Portland, OR
rpc   Portland, OR
A GREAT line! Here's my "lay of the land" type "topo":

summitpost.org/view_object.… Mar 21, 2008
John Hegyes
Las Vegas, NV
John Hegyes   Las Vegas, NV
rpc, great topo, thanks, it helped a lot! Aug 8, 2008
Lynn S  
Unreal, one of the most interesting alpine routes I have done, especially at "5.6", big exposure. Although if you are a 5.6/7 leader some of the exposed traversing moves may feel a lot harder than 6.

Did this route with my 15 year old son last week and it was a blast. Get started early as many of the upper pitches are best done short, so they add up. Also the standard descent takes some time. Personally I would not want to get caught descending in the dark as it is quite exposed.

With that being said there was one unfortunate party who spent 22 hours on this route last week. I got up to pee at my campsite and saw a headlamp below Tiger Tower at 2 am and thought someone must be camping. Went through that area the next morning to climb and saw no tents. Later that day found out a party had been descending still at that time. If anyone from that group reads this, I am glad you all made it down safely. Aug 17, 2008
Robert Henderson
Wilson, WY
Robert Henderson   Wilson, WY
Here's some helpful info from a local that has climbed this many times.
1) The grassy ledges approach is faster than Tiger Tower IF they are dry.
2) I suggest roping up with about 1/2 your rope (to stay in contact,) crossing the "sidewalk" section which is 30' to a crack and traditionally rated 5.2 (not 5.5 as above.) Then continue with running belays until the first real tower is reached. Much of this terrain is 4th class w/ short 5.2 sections. This is the first 5 pitches in traditional descriptions of the climb (50 Classics, etc.)
3) The first tower, passed by a south traverse, leads to a horizontal chimney. The chimney is best stemmed high on a seam about 6-8' off the floor with your pack suspended below you by a sling. That way it's not a squeeze and is quite easy. No pro but no place to fall either.
4) The piton traverse. Your second will thank you if you DO NOT place pro at the end of the traverse. Instead, clip a piton at your feet, traverse 20' right and climb up the crack 15' before putting in more pro so the rope will belay him/her from above. Otherwise, the second feels pulled downwards and sideways and you'll have an awful Z in the rope. You can easily combine this with the next pitch, the double crack with the short mantle at the end. I feel it is unwise as suggested in the above route description to combine the horizontal chimney with the piton traverse. You'll get horrendous rope drag.

If you get an alpine start, this route is not long. Try to time getting to the grassy ledges when it is just light enough to see. Simul-climb the first part of the ridge. The descent is not that confusing; just look for rap slings anywhere the ledges give out. It is a constant traverse to skier's left. The first time I climbed this route, we were back in camp by noon. If it takes you longer, you need more alpine experience (a fact not a derogatory statement.) Just follow your instincts as if you were doing a first ascent. Apr 26, 2009
Alec LaLonde
Alec LaLonde  
In the latest guidebook this is listed as a grade III. I would call it SOLID grade IV when including the convoluted descent. Don't underestimate this route, its winding nature calls for either short pitches or heinous rope drag and retreat is out of the question once on the upper ridge. Get an early start -- the descent is sketchball in the dark! Jul 13, 2009
Spencer Weiler
Salt Lake city
Spencer Weiler   Salt Lake city
There is a reason this a 50 classic! Adventure is the only way to describe it. The approach felt harder then some parts of the climb, maybe because we had no idea if we were going the right way. Highly recommend traversing the crack around the 4th tower with your feet on the crack rather than your hands. It makes it super runout but it was by far the most memorable pitch of the day that way. Kind of felt like "Thank God ledge" on Half dome a bit. The piton pitch and sidewalk sections are incredibly exposed. A must do climb. Jul 14, 2010
Erik Syrstad
Logan, UT
Erik Syrstad   Logan, UT
Awesome route! Sweet exposure, unique climbing - and when you're done you can run up one of the short routes on the south side of Pingora on the way back to camp.

But c'mon, there is absolutely NO WAY this is a grade IV. I'm an average 5.8/5.9 climber and we were up and off this thing by 10:30 am - and we didn't exactly get an alpine start. It's soft for a grade III. The approach was very short from camp, the route itself goes in two or three leads if you simul-climb, and the descent was straightforward. Routefinding? When in doubt, go the easy way.

This is not to disparage the route or anyone who for whatever reason has epic'd on the thing. It was a blast and I'd do it again multiple times. But putting this in the same discussion - in terms of commitment - as the North Ridge / North Face of the Grand (both IV), numerous routes on Moran's South Buttress, many other routes in the Cirque, etc... is pure lunacy. Hell, Guide's Wall (grade II) is a longer day than this! Jul 27, 2010
steven sadler
steven sadler   SLC, UT
i felt like a number 4 cam would've been really nice in a few spots. especially for the really thin sidewalk. i cleaned this route and the number 3 my leader placed was just bouncing around in there. fantastic climb. Aug 17, 2010
Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas  
Did this early August. If you approach via the benches I would highly suggest roping up for a pitch or two before the snowbank bench. It's exposed and slippery!

Aug 30, 2010
Salt Lake City
cragsavvy   Salt Lake City
1.We did the Grassy Ledges approach when they were wet. It was pretty awful, with the grass slippery it was easy to fall. Weird and definitely harder than 5.4 when you actually climb on the rock, rather than grass. There is some weird chimney moves, but o.k. gear. The weather wasn't looking to great so we bailed at the base of the East Ridge. The raps are fairly straight forward.On the 2nd or third rappel we walked over to the left if you are facing the wall where you will find more rappel slings that will take you straight to the ground. Be aware of old slings, there are rats that chew on the nylon, so carry extra slings. 2. The next day, we went back up and did the whole climb via the Pingora/Tiger Tower gully. We had to make steps in a snow field in early August. We started up the left gully and had to bail into the right one, it didn't go through too easily. We left a cordalette rapping from the left gully to the right. The rest was just scrambly loose rock to the top of Tiger Tower. From Tiger Tower you do a short rappel and walk to the right to find more rapping slings. This is a VERY awkward rappel with some difficult upclimbing unless you climb over onto the left ledge instead of going straight down. From there walk to the right along the ridge and start the sidewalk pitch! From there just follow the ridge for a couple easy pitches. The chimney before the piton pitch is fairly easy, hard with a big backpack. Do NOT climb up 6 ft and chimney, stay on the ground and it is a lot easier when you get to the base of the piton pitch. The piton pitch is very exposed and easy to do as a hand or foot traverse. The best and hardest pitch of the climb is next. Fun layback that leads to a tight hand crack, which turns the corner into an easy hand traverse.
THE HARDEST MOVE: The hand traverse turns the corner where the feet run out and turn to a vertical face. It is very awkward and suspenseful. Follow some fun exposed foot traverses from there, and make sure you do it as a goot traverse, not a hand! Done as a foot traverse there is no gear but I suggest placing 2 cams and the beginning, then just walk the plank. Easy, 5.2. Done as a hand traverse there is gear, but no feet with a rounded, big crack that looked like 5.10 only done as a hand traverse though. Follow for a couple more straight forward pitches. Couple of raps and walk over to the Overhanging Tower Col and scramble down from there! Excellent climb! very exhausting though! Sep 25, 2010
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
Finally I got to climb this on a beautiful sunny, never ending day in August. A long approach and descent sour some on this climb. However the hand traversing around the towers and the summit are F'ing awesome. I really enjoyed it. You can walk the ridge before the "darth Vader Tower" for some additional fun. Many raps Aug 23, 2011
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
mark felber   Wheat Ridge, CO
I'm going to put in a vote for the Tiger Tower approach, especially if the grassy ledges are wet. Instead of the wide ugly chimney right at the corner where Pingora meets Tiger Tower, step climber's left to the not so wide chimney on the face of Tiger Tower. One loose stretch but otherwise very pleasant climbing up to about 5th class to get to the summit of Tiger Tower. Sep 7, 2011
Alex Mitchell
Phoenix, AZ
Alex Mitchell   Phoenix, AZ
Took about 8 hours to climb with a party of 4. Funny thing was the party of 2 in front of us delayed us quite a bit. '
Fun climb! Rappels and down scrambling takes a long time so make sure to budget for this! Aug 23, 2012
Courtney Pace   Sandy
We were stressing about finding the first tower traverse way too early. My advice is to stay on ridge until you arrive at some tat and a short rap or downclimb. This is the start of the tower traverses. It was convenient to have belayer at bottom of said downclimb right before the first crux bulge. This pitch can easily be linked with piton pitch. Sep 6, 2012
Chris Nischan
Chris Nischan  
Just did the route last week, it was amazing. easy to see why its a 50 classic, tons of exposure, tons of fun. went off route following the ridge a little too long and had to do a sort of sketchy rap/down climb (with the multiple slings and rap rings it looks like it happens alot) back on route to the first tower, definitely easier to stay on the ground at the chimney between the first and second tower bomber holds all the way to the right to get onto the ledge for the piton traverse. which only had 4 pitons, one of which was at your feet and unclipable (our guide book said 5-6 pitons). but one thing, heard a lot about the foot/hand traverse on the right side of the 3rd tower. i think someone even said it looked like 5.10 if you go with your hands cause there are no feet. simply not true, it might, MIGHT, be 5.5, and thats just the move around the corner, when you go with your hands. there are feet everywhere, everywhere. it might be because im from the east coast and have to smear if i want a foot back home but the traverse is riddled with bomber foot holds. loved the climb, every bit of it was spectacular Sep 9, 2012
+1 for hand traversing everything. There were only 2 spots that didn't have easy feet and they were short (5 feet long I spose). And memorize the topo just in case, you know, it falls out of your pocket into the void while starting the sidewalk. he he Sep 14, 2012
What a beautiful climb in a beautiful area!

I climbed this last week (second week of September), this seems like the perfect time of year. The days were not too hot, the nights were not too cold, there was no snow and no bugs.

We used RPC's very useful topo. It was especially invaluable for the descent. I noted that the third rap station (to which you scramble) looked a little funky, but it was the right one. We did drop too low on the long traverse and had to climb back up. Beware that there were cairns all over the damn place. The final rap you want starts near the top of the cliff above the gully, and deposits you only a short ways below the top of the gully. Regardless of what stacked rocks you see below you on the traverse, try to stay high, I don't think you'll regret it. Sep 18, 2012
New Paltz
Optimistic   New Paltz
Monty's original beta for this route is excellent...so excellent in fact that at times I felt like we were cheating a little bit by having it on the route! But that didn't stop us from looking at it.

Anyway, I would add a few really minor points
-We used Bechtel for the slabs approach. I think that inexperienced climbers would be pretty freaked to go that way without a rope. Not hard, but you're in the no-fall zone for a long time. If you or your second doesn't solo 5.2 with a pack, you may want to allow time for some belays if you go this way. Also, we screwed up the approach right at the very end, on the big ledge just below the start of the climb. It looked like following Bechtel was going to be super sketch, so we traversed way right to some gully between Tiger and Pingora...here, we encountered the hardest climbing of the day, ropeless in our approach shoes on not the best rock. When we finally got to the start and looked down, we saw that Bechtel was completely correct, and his way was totally casual.

-On the "black nubbin pitch" I was really pleased to have 2 #3 Camalots. The climbing here is quite easy, but on fairly steep ground, and at least from what I could see, the 2nd #3 was the only thing preventing some very significant swing potential near the end of the pitch. Great pitch, though. Someone mentioned wanting a #4, I have no memory of needing one or wanting one, but perhaps you could have placed it somewhere on the nubbin pitch.

-As Eric F comments just above, there is a temptation to drop down the backside of Wolf's Head as you do the "400-yard traverse" Monty mentions in his description. I think it may actually be a little longer than 400 yards, but either way, if anything, you go UP slightly as you traverse...pretty much any down at all is wrong.

-none of us (on the descent we were two parties having joined forces, had all 4 ropes running at once) felt the need to do the final rap (#6 in Monty's description). I guess that last rap would save you a tiny bit of gravel-groveling, but it seemed to us like the time to set up this rap would have been more than the time needed to scramble down. Class 3 at that point as far as we could see. I mention this not to complain, but because otherwise you might feel kind of lost, like "hey, I feel like we're down, but the description says we're still supposed to be rapping more" kind of thing.

-As many others pointed out, please do not underestimate this route. The weather for us was completely splitter and we had a mellow day, but both of us were picturing what a massive cluster it would have been to get off that route in a storm: the climbing on the actual route is trivial, but there is a whole lot of rock between you and safe ground if you need to bail, and you will be likely leaving a lot of your rack behind if you make your own descent. You may want to scope out the location of the Beckey Route (or some other route) on the South Face, so that you have a way to get down if needed. I've also heard that rapping the Beckey Route is not all that casual, but I've never been there myself. Nov 20, 2012
Taylor Spiegelberg
Lander & Sheridan, WY
Taylor Spiegelberg   Lander & Sheridan, WY  
Amazing route one of the most asthetic and rowdy 5.6's anywhere. I left a .75 up there, if anyone found it, a 6-pack will be at your doorstep if its returned!! Thanks Jul 30, 2013
John Groh
  5.6 PG13
John Groh  
  5.6 PG13
Be prepared for tons of rope drag!

More of a traverse than a climb, but still by far the coolest traverse I've ever done.

Make sure you have adequate directions for the rappels - we "rescued" a lost pair of climbers looking for a rap anchor in the dark who had no idea where they were supposed to go... Aug 30, 2013
Austin Pethan
Madison, WI
Austin Pethan   Madison, WI
Incredible. If it is dry, take the Grassy Ledges approach, as it is straightforward, quick, and safe when dry (we did not have to rope up as some parties have when it is wet). Definitely simuclimb the ridge, both to save time and to have an absolutely incredible experience doing so. Did the route in six belayed pitches; the beginning was simuclimbed, and the last part was class 4 (with 1 or 2 class 5 moves) scrambling to the summit. Decent was pretty straightforward. We used rps's summitpost guide and followed it closely.

We woke up at 4:30 and were on Grassy Ledges as soon as it was light out. Reached summit at about 1:45pm. This was both my and my partner's first real alpine experience (besides Haystack Mountain near Deep Lake). We were so thrilled on the way back to camp. Also, if you look at the south face of Wolf's Head, there is a clear Wolf's head. The top of the head is marked by the third tall tower, and the towers to the left and right make the ears. The "wolf" appears to be looking down, and looks more of like a "wolf's skull" then a "wolfs head". We had the five people at our camp in awe of this sight, once they finally were able to pick it out.

This is a must do route!!! Sep 12, 2013
Charlie S
Ogden, UT
Charlie S   Ogden, UT
This climb took us 12 hours tent-to-tent. 1.25 hours of approaching, 7.75 hours of climbing, and 4 hours of descending. The descent is not trivial. Watch out for (massive!) loose blocks will become easily dislodged and kill someone if a group is below you.

There's a little of everything on this route. Be prepared and climb as efficiently as possible. Jul 26, 2014
Sean A Smith
South Salt Lake, UT
  5.7 PG13
Sean A Smith   South Salt Lake, UT
  5.7 PG13
Tiger Tower Apprach:
I did the grassy ledges approach on my first trip up this route and the tiger tower approach the second time. I will always do the tiger tower approach in the future. It only takes 15 minutes to walk up the gully with a couple of easy 5th class moves. There are a couple of loose spots, but it's much less sketchy than the descent or climbing the grassy ledges when wet. Then you do a couple of easy 5th class moves to make the summit of tiger tower (you could rope up but we felt comfortable unroped in our approach shoes) and walk the ridge of tiger tower towards the saddle. There are two short rappels that land you on the saddle to start the route. It was a lot less sketchy than climbing the grassy ledges when wet and it was faster for us. Aug 18, 2015
Incredible route. One of the most memorable I've done, right up there with Ancient Art. I thought that the short downward part of the piton-traverse was the scariest part and harder than 5.6, so I give it 5.7 just for those 10-15 feet.

We did the GRASSY LEDGES APPROACH. It was fun and mostly easy, but we scoped it well from the bottom and looked around while we were on it and I can't imagine that going at 3rd class, or even 4th class for that matter. We ended up simul-climbing the last tiny bit and unless there's a secret passage (which there may be), this has some 5th class.

Must-Do Phenomenal route in a beautiful setting! Great pro too, I'm curious why some people give this a PG13. Aug 29, 2015
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
The best 5.6 I've done. Like Matthes Crest, only longer and with more exposure. Sep 8, 2015
I can say on good authority that the descent "goes" with very reasonable hazard exposure and a single 50m rope. Arguably, stopping each rappel after no more than 25m, regardless of rope length, is advised, given the loose rocks on each ledge. Sure, on a few of the raps with at least 70m of rope you can slide right to the next anchor. But then, on rope recovery, you drag all that rope across loose ledges above you. Get quick with transitions, putting the rope away, etc, and this descent is a perfect candidate for using a shorter rope.

In fact, the Pingora descent also "goes" with a single 50m rope. I won't take more than 50m of rope in there again.

Enjoy. Sep 10, 2015
South Jordan, UT
C.M.Jones   South Jordan, UT
Did the route on August 2nd. Beautiful day with perfect weather. However, we tried grassy ledges... it was wet... it was NOT fun. I'd recommend the gully between Tiger Tower and the Pingora.

Other than the awful start, the exposure and the adventure of the climb made the long trek into the cirque well worth the adventure. One of the most beautiful places on Earth. Dec 11, 2015
Forrest Williams   Denver
If you move fast on this style of terrain this is a great rest-ish day in the winds. My partner and I did this in between objectives and it is cruisy if you simul. Soloing up to the ridge is helpful too. Start late after people are bunching up on the ridge and cruise on through. Aug 31, 2016
Mike McL
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Mike McL   South Lake Tahoe, CA
Best 5.6 ever? I won't argue with that one. Continuously exposed. Lots of exhilarating moves with all the exposure.

We did the Tiger Tower approach which was pretty straightforward. I am a wimp about soloing and never felt the need to rope up before the 2 short rappels. We did belay 1 short section after the second rappel but only because it had snow and ice on it (north side) from a recent storm.

Monty's beta is pretty much spot on. The only thing I found different was that we did 5 rappels before the long traverse over to the notch, not 4. This is indicated in RPC's topo, which was helpful. The first 5 rappels all generally face towards the west FWIW.

2 #3 camalots were nice for the last hand traverse. And after the first tower after you climb up the chimney, go under the chockstone to get to the correct ledge to begin the piton traverse. I belayed on top of the chockstone (which was sunny) but had to move the station down and around the corner which wasted a few minutes.

The last rappel into the notch after the long traverse (#6 on RPC's topo) was a little harder to find. Stay higher to find the correct rappel. There was another lower station set up but it didn't work with 1 60 m rope. The higher station (the correct one I suppose) worked well with 1 rope to get us to walking terrain. I wouldn't want to scramble and avoid this last rappel personally. Sep 15, 2016
Summary of route beta and time for an average climber to do it car to car. www.LeftAngleBeta.com Oct 27, 2016
Jon Dory
Jon Dory  
Thx for the posts and great beta. Certainly made the climb more enjoyable. We started about 4:45am and arrived back in camp about 7:00pm. There were 2 parties ahead of us but kept a good pace. On the approach- We also scrambled up the extreme right gully leading to the notch between the two towers. Easy scramble to the summit of Tiger and two rappels got us to the long traverse across that thin stretch to an amazing 5.6 face/crack. The climb is mostly a traverse and a few amazing vertical ascents. I don't recall the exact pitch as we strung a few together, but there is an obvious section that may require chimney technique, we found that if you stem, the climb is much more enjoyable and still easy to protect. The last traverse can be conquered by using your hands in the crack or by standing on the thin ledge (crack) and shuffling across. On the down the rappels are somewhat obvious and once you reach the bottom stay high and move favoring up hill, stay left up thru a gully to a final rappel that lands on the saddle between the two major crags. Amazing day!! Nov 16, 2016
Laramie, WY
Petsfed   Laramie, WY
We bailed down Becky due to a storm. After the first tower, look for slings around a chockstone, but beware: pulling dual 70s off that thing is nearly impossible. We spent a very miserable couple of hours climbing back up our stuck ropes, and moved to a more precarious slung boulder that allowed for a pretty painless pull. From that slung boulder, rap slightly climber's left, 60m to a nice ledge hemmed in with big boulders. Find a nice slung pinch between two of them, and rappel 50m (mostly freehanging) to a big burly flake slightly climber's right. We found the slings on this flake to be in VERY bad shape (one broke when my partner weighted it), but the flake is the most confidence inspiring rap anchor I found on the whole line. A 70m rap from the flake brings you to the slabs. Descent from here will vary with snow coverage. We rapped another 70m down the snow fields to climber's right to a shallow, rock filled gulley and scrambled down to Cirque lake from there. With less snow, you could probably scramble down the slabs without rappelling. Jul 29, 2017
BJB   Texas
One of the most unique and interesting routes I have done anywhere. The setting is beautiful and so is the line. Lightning made the climb very dangerous at the summit.

A few thoughts on route:

The Approach
The grassy ledges were a bit heads up because there was a great deal of water and mud all over them. We had to break it up into about 3 roped pitches. I think that the scramble up the Tiger Tower colier would probably be the better way to go, but it was completely covered in ice. This was a lot scarier and wetter than I expected it to be. When you are forced to climb on the actual rock, rather than the grass, the difficulty is stout 5.easy when you account for the water.

The Difficulty
While most of this route is very easy, including the sidewalk pitch, this is probably the toughest 5.6 I have ever done. The downclimbing pitch that leads you to the squeeze chimney of the first tower is a bit tough (3 in the beta above), as is the downclimbing/traversing to get in to the last chimney (5 in the beta above) and the piton pitch is the hardest 5.6 I have done. I may have done the piton pitch wrong by keeping my feet too high, but I thought this was extremely balancy and pretty insecure.

The Weather
We were simulclimbing to the summit when a huge thunderstorm came in. As I stood up on the ridge, I could feel the electricity with my head. We ran back to a crack in the rock near the belay at the beginning of 6) in the beta. The air sounded the way it does when you stand under the powerlines. We were in the crack for about an hour while a lightning cloud rested on us. When we came out of the crack, it had hailed/iced to the extent that there was about an inch and a half of ice that made the 4th/easy 5th class to the summit much more heads up than it had been. While the crack/chimney kept us safe from the lightning, we had to put on our panchos because the rain/hail was falling into the crack.

The Rappel
Though it sounded kind of complicated, the summit post beta was really helpful and we never felt lost. The party before us said that the 3rd/4th class slabs that lead to the last rappel were very scary in the rain/hail, but they were pretty dry by the time we got there, and I only remember one spot that had significant exposure. Aug 21, 2017
We are the party mentioned a few comments down that ended up doing the descent while it was covered in snow and ice from a storm. I can confirm that this is NOT a situation one wants to be in. We got caught about 1/3 down the descent in a big storm that progressed from rain to sleet to grapple to hail and to snow. It only lasted 30 minutes, but it left the mountainside covered in snow and ice. It looked like another storm was moving in, so we decided to try to get off before it hit. Navigating the 3rd and 4th class exposed scrambling (which was marked with cairns and easy to follow) between raps on the descent was pretty terrifying when covered in ice. The terrain did not lend itself well to protection, so we opted not to rope up. Luckily, we had brought 50ft of tat with us and were able to use that in a few places to provide some lines to hold onto. Needless to say, I would just reemphasize the importance of trying to get an early start on this route so as to avoid possible bad weather that might roll in later on. In our case, the storm we got caught in hit us around 11:30 / noon.

As for the approach: we originally planned to do the Tiger Tower approach, but it had rained all the previous day, which turned to the snowfield in front of Tiger Tower gully into ice that night, and we didn't have any crampons with us. So we did Grassy Ledges, but they were absolutely soaking and running with water which made them a bit spicy and miserable. We roped up for all of the grassy ledges and made it to the base of the climb in 3 pitches. Without the water, I think the Grassy Ledges would have been pretty straightforward and mellow, albeit a bit exposed (and I never feel 100% percent comfortable climbing steep grass).

The climb itself was totally stellar-the best moderate I have ever done! We used beta from Summit Post and had no problem following the route. A lot of it is choose your own adventure anyway. This climb definitely deserves all the hype! Jan 11, 2018
geoff georges
Seattle, Wa.
geoff georges   Seattle, Wa.
FA : Bill Buckingham, Carlos Plummer, 1959 Mar 13, 2018
Bill Atkinson
Cambridge, MA
Bill Atkinson   Cambridge, MA
Wyoming Towers: East Ridge of Wolf's Head/Devil's Tower wp.me/p6Isot-bF Mar 29, 2018
Charlie Hartman
Salt Lake City, UT
Charlie Hartman   Salt Lake City, UT
I'm not sure if the descent description is clear on this, but if there is steep snow in the descent gully, there is an additional rappel to get around this. Jul 16, 2018
Climb Rocks  
If you're reading these comments, please take note of who simul climbed or soloed parts of the route. Their comments, especially time estimates, won't apply to you if you're using a rope and pitching it out. Most of the climb is 5th class, and most people will want to pitch it out. I'm a solid 5.9 climber with plenty of alpine experience and pitched the whole thing out. Don't pay attention to people like Robert Henderson. Very few parties are going to be back in camp by noon, and that's OK. This is a 5th class rock climb and should be treated as such. Don't let people like this encourage you to climb too fast or in any manner that's unsafe for you. We took the Tiger Tower far right approach gulley since the grassy ledges were wet. We didn't feel comfortable soloing this gulley, so it took significantly more time than the grassy ledges. Most of the beta for this route is overkill. Stay on the ridge until you actually can't climb anymore. Then go left, then WALK through the horizontal slot ("chimney") to the north side (this "pitch" is not a rock climb). Then climb the north side of the ridge until you cross the ridge to the south again, look for the hole to climb back to the north side. Finish the climb, and be careful on the descent. Have fun! :) Aug 5, 2018
Idaho Bob
McCall, ID
  5.6 PG13
Idaho Bob   McCall, ID
  5.6 PG13
For me the crux was the descent back into the Cirque basin. In mid-August very dry and loose, lots of loose rock big enough to be a significant hazard. Just too much traffic I guess. Too bad since the climb was cool. Aug 16, 2018
Greg Hughes    
Did this route a few days ago on a quick trip in to the Cirque. It was harder than I expected, especially the piton pitch. I took a look at that and opted for the crack system above and left. I agree with the comments that this is more of a traverse than anything else but what an adventure - so fun. I'm surprised to hear so many comments about the descent. I found it to be very straight forward. The beta from the Bechtel guide was to downclimb/rappel south and west until you can reach the col. The rappel stations were easy to find and there were plenty of cairns along the way. I make this comment for dry conditions though. If the descent were icy or wet I could see it being epic. If it is dry, it goes fast. I was on the summit at 2:30 pm. and walking past Cirque Lake by 4. Aug 22, 2018
Jen Wiebracht
Lakewood, CO
Jen Wiebracht   Lakewood, CO
My partner and I completed the East Ridge on August 19, 2018 via the Tiger/Pingora gully. Here is a link to the trip report: wp.me/p8nymg-eA.

We left our tent at 0445, arrived at the Tiger Gully at 0530, waited out the weather until 0600. Summitted at 1300. Back to the tent at 1600.

One main point: I would not have linked the exposed corner/chimney/hole pitch with the piton pitch. We ended up with AWFUL rope drag by virtue of how the route runs. Yes, the piton pitch is very short, but it still would've saved us time to move the belay to avoid the rope catching.

We brought singles of 0.1 and 0.2 X4s + DMM offset nuts for small gear, doubles of 0.3 through 3 C4s for larger gear. We never used the small gear, but did use both 3's (they were handy for anchors). We used two 60m half/twin ropes which made the rappels go more quickly. The rap beta on this page is great! Look for a cairn to skier's left for the last 95 foot rappel off of Wolf's Head before scrambling to the saddle between Overhanging and Wolf's Head (the rappel isn't 95 feet, so don't get confused and think you need to rap lower than the large ledge). Aug 22, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
  5.6 PG13
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
  5.6 PG13
I'd caution against linking any of the actual pitches because there's a lot of rope drag weaving in and out. Note that if you want to protect the grassy ledges approach, there are some 5th class sections, but there's lots of zig zagging and not lots of pro. Amazing, improbably route. Incredible it goes at 5.6. Descent can take almost as long as the climb. Sep 13, 2018
Jake Stern  
I dunno, I linked the first tower, chimney pitch with the piton pitch just fine. Communication was a little difficult. Nov 1, 2018
sibylle Hechtel
sibylle Hechtel   Colorado
Anne Marie Rizzi and I climbed this route on Aug. 5, 1972, with one rope, and all nuts. I'd started leading in summer of 1971 and had never led anything harder than 5.8. It was protected well using nuts, and our rope was probably either 50m or 55m. It was our first climb in the Winds, and our first long alpine climb. I don't remember the approach, and we descended in daylight, so no problem with time. We owned no headlamps, and didn't hike in the dark. Nov 6, 2018