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Ambush Plaisir 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 1300', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: James Garrett and Franziska Garrett, 23 July 2006
New Route: Yes
Season: Summer
Page Views: 3,376
Submitted By: James Garrett on Jul 29, 2006

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Franziska leading Pitch #5. This surmounts 4 diffe...


This casual route is classic Wind River Slab climbing. It is something new in the sense that it does not reach the summit of the South summit of Ambush, yet it starts at the lowest part of the East Face and climbs directly to the Huge Roof where difficulties would drastically change the nature of the route. Plaisir is a Swiss word for FUN and likewise casual (stress free) at the same time. This is a great route when weather may be a threat.

Pitch #1-#2: Start up the lowest toe of rock climbing easy slab toward a right facing crack system to a pin/bolt belay. May be combined as one long rope stretcher or simulclimbed. 5.3, 70+m.

Pitch #3: Climb higher into the right facing corner to a two-bolt belay. 5.5, 30m.

Pitch #4: Continue up the slabby crack system to another two-bolt belay ledge. 5.6, 35m.

Pitch #5: Super fun! A small roof followed by a dike out right passing two bolts leads to another broad roof series of overlaps and then back left in alignment with the lower pitches to a two-bolt belay ledge. 5.9, 50m.

Pitch #6: Continue up initially into a right facing corner then into a left facing corner system up really fun rock to a two-bolt belay ledge. 5.8, 50m.

Pitch #7: Continue up broken corners and fun slab to a two bolt belay ledge. 5.7, 50m.

Pitch #8: A finger crack goes up and left to the "grass humps" pitch, probably the only "dirty" pitch that can be said to exist on the route. Belay at a two-bolt belay. 5.7, 50m.

Pitch #9: Some casual climbing leads to a finger crack intersecting a band of black colored granite to a small ledge and two-bolt belay. 5.9, 45m.

Pitch #10: From the small ledge, pass a steep step past a bolt, and trend right to beautiful finger crack in more black colored rock to a two-bolt belay immediately beneath the right side of the huge central roof on the East Face. 5.9, 60m


A low angle crack ascends for about 70m at the lowest part of the wall. This is 4th class, but the wall steadily steepens. All belay/rappel stations have been installed and this makes for a low commitment route for the Winds. Rappel the route. All clean pulls.


QDs and Camalots to #3. small and medium nuts

Photos of Ambush Plaisir Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: No motorized equipment - drill by  hand please.
BETA PHOTO: No motorized equipment - drill by hand please.
Rock Climbing Photo: Susan and Todd Wolfe at the belay on top of pitch ...
Susan and Todd Wolfe at the belay on top of pitch ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ambush!
Rock Climbing Photo: The 10 pitch route Ambush Plaisir
The 10 pitch route Ambush Plaisir
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the granite on the route
Looking down the granite on the route
Rock Climbing Photo: The route climbs this wall to underneath the huge ...
The route climbs this wall to underneath the huge ...

Comments on Ambush Plaisir Add Comment
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By Brian Mulvihill
From: Wilson, WY
Aug 29, 2010

climbed August 12 2010. Climbed in four pitches up to top of pitch 8 until a snow storm forced us to retreat. Unlike the route description says, some belays are a bolt and a pin not "bolted belays". Replaced a few pieces of the webbing at these stations. The route is very slabby climbing with a few crux sections and protects fairly well. Nice addition to the East Fork Valley climibng.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 31, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This route is enjoyable, specifically pitches 4, 5, & 9 making it a worthy outing. The belay on top of pitch 6 should be skipped while ascending (hanging) - just belay below it or above it on nice ledges. Be sure to bring slings to leave behind at most stations when you rappel. If you want a full day - after pitch 8 traverse out right to the "inverted staircase" section (a route from the 90's with obvious stepwise overhangs you can climb out under) and go to the top - then there is no need to rappel and you get a full route experience.

I enjoyed the route specifically for the reasons stated by the creator - I could escape easily so I took my 10 year old son up the wall without a sense of risk. I guess this is the future and it clearly results in more people climbing. I am a little concerned regarding future fixed anchor regulation in the wilderness if we end up with a lot of bolts in this pristine wilderness that are place too easily with a machine. Nothing else in the Wind River range that I have climbed in 30 years has more than a rare bolt (the busiest mountain in the range - Pingora - doesn't even have bolts at the very busy rappel). Hopefully these bolts were drilled without a motorized device. I have no qualms if they were hand drilled as I know how much effort hand drilled bolts take and I would rather run it out than do that work myself so kudos to sweat equity (legal) placed bolts.
By Christopher Barlow
Jul 29, 2011

The belay at the top of the 2nd pitch is now missing the pin. It still has one bomber bolt. The pin wasn't very good in the first place; it came out under surprisingly small forces (much bouncing around to pull a stubborn rappel rope). This belay can easily be skipped by linking pitches 1 and 2 with a full 70m rope.

This single bolt anchor also presents a problem for rappelling. My partner and I did the rappels several times while establishing I Think Therefore I Ambush; we found that it was much easier to rappel to the large ledge system (2-3 rappels from the top of the route) and then traverse south (climber's left) to the grassy 4th class gully that leads to the base. We fixed a sling anchor at the top of this scramble to do one 35m rappel thereby avoiding the most exposed downclimbing.

Many of the bolted anchors are not at the most comfortable stances, especially on the upper half of the route. The anchors seem to be for rapping more than belaying. Just stretch out the rope on lead and belay where it makes sense.

As to the comment about more extensive bolting in the Winds, I'm not sure it's totally fair to compare Pingora to the East Face of Ambush. Pingora is generally slabby with consistent crack systems. The majority of its routes are 5.9 or easier. Overall, the feature lends itself to boltless climbing and descending. Ambush is not that way. Other walls in the range (Mt. Hooker, for example), do have a decent numbers of bolts on their faces because they don't have long-running crack systems and require extensive use of face features. That is how Ambush's East Face is.

Ultimately, Ambush Plaisir is a very fun, quality alpine outing with a lot of bolts. The climbing is still spicy in parts and requires good trad climbing skills. It now can be linked to I Think Therefore I Ambush for a big free route up the entire wall.
By John Joline
Aug 6, 2011

Agreed regarding rapping off: Descending the 4th-class section from the huge 1/3-height "Grey Ledges" to easy terrain (and then 3-classing the long grassy gully to the ground) is quicker and easier than rapping Plaisir. (Did you guys sling the nice little spike near the top of the 4th class groove/cracks? This revealed itself from within minor surrounding rubble last year.)

Re Plaisir: in 1998 Dwight Aspinwall and I climbed most of this route. We started at the lowest point, followed grooves and dikes to the Grey Ledges (on the way, entering the "weeping eye/chestnut" feature on its right side) and then continued upwards til (just a guess) about 2 pitches below where Plaisir ends. It rained mid-afternoon on our last day on the face and it was time for Dwight to depart, so that was our high point. We're pretty sure no one had climbed these pitches before us because of dirt etc in the cracks (LOTS of digging-out on lead for fingers and pro!); plus there was a large boulder perched in a groove on the slabs, which Dwight trundled off (and pinched his finger doing it). We climbed clean (cams and nuts) and placed no bolts, but we did set up a couple piton-rap-stations from the Grey Ledges down the slabs -- which we soon realized were superfluous in light of the above-mentioned descent, which some Ambush-experienced NM arrivals told us about; (this descent can be fairly readily 3d-classed upward or downward by an experienced climber but would be a horrible fall -- definitely "exposed," as Christopher says -- and, if raining, probably terrifying). Our NM friends removed the pitons for us later.

[details: After the first short pitch from the Grey Ledges, my recollection is we went straight upwards from the obvious belay, climbing on clean rock, rather than traversing rightwards past the Plaisir bolt into the grass/moss-filled gully/seam. And above the Grey Ledges I think we rapped off slung spikes, though my memory is hazy.]

Also: There is another route that goes to the top which very closely parallels ITTIA. This was done quite a few years ago and is different from the "inverted staircase" route that Tim refers to above. It crosses ITTIA in a couple of places. Maybe the first-ascentionists will post this route with details? (I believe they used no bolts).

Finally: Some unreported clean (no bolts or pins) pitches have been done to the left of Plaisir, ascending from the Grey Ledges to the same height as Plaisir (ie, the level where the big overhangs begin).
By Toby G
Jun 15, 2012

A "new route" that doesn't even reach 2/3s height on the formation? For real? Holy shit the homogenization and reduction of alpine climbing really sucks the soul right out of it. I'm glad you got off the crag and had a great adventure. Congrats to John for taking his experience for what it was - a fun attempt and a big experience I'm sure! To think about how many INCOMPLETE routes I have left out there to keep motivate to work harder blow off work and fly around the world for - that is what alpine climbing is all about!

The Winds is one of our last wilderness retreats, and the reason why I let my free climbing suck to live in Wyoming!! Good effort, and I hope that you had a great, meaningful experience. You should have kept your ATTEMPT secret, so that you could have gone back to complete a first ascent on a noble wall.

Keep it real!
By Mike McNeil
From: Spearfish, South Dakota
Sep 13, 2013

I did this in 2011 but missed the first 4 or so pitches but just climbed the cracks to the right which seemed OK, but after rapping it looked like nice clean rock on the route for those pitches. I think there were only several protection bolts on the route not like it was a sport route or anything. Was fairly runout on one of the upper pitches after the bolt.
By Frost
Aug 25, 2016

Re: rappels
- I found one rap bolt at the 4th anchor with a ring on it. Didn't find any rap anchors below that (someone made a stopper anchor over to the right on one of the grass ledges), but you can pretty much 3rd/4th class it up about 200'+ up the apron of this thing, so it's pretty easy to just walk down (if it's dry) from wherever you get to off that 4th anchor.

The first two-bolt rap anchor is at the end of the 5th pitch (above the first of the multiple overlaps/overhangs). From here all the rap anchors are still present. Quite a few of them only had one bolt and maybe a suspect pin. I replaced most of the soft goods and fixed a stopper or two. I tried to skip a couple raps and ended up ~ 15' short on both (using 2 60m ropes), so don't do that:)

Re: bolts
-I found all protection bolts to be of good quality and completely appropriate. This thing is not over bolted. There were no bolts by protectable cracks. Some excellent heads up trad leading as well (especially the 9th pitch).

Re: the route
- Nice climbing on nice stone. The last pitch is not that good and ends in an anti-climatic spot. I'd recommend climbing through the 9th (an excellent pitch), and rapping from there.

Thanks to FA crew and those that potentially came before.

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