REI Community
Select Route:
Cirque of the Towers Traverse T 
East Face, Left Side Cracks T 
East Ledges T 
Northeast Face T 
South Buttress T 
Southerner's, The T 
Southwest Face Right T 
Stealing Thunder T 
Triple Cracks T 

East Face, Left Side Cracks 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 800', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Elaine Mathews (first half) 1970 Greg Donaldson, Rich Mathies (2nd half) 1972.
Season: Summer
Page Views: 20,262
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on May 26, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (52)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Nice shot of the lake below.


This creatively named route is pretty nice for a casual day or a quick route if you don't have a full day. Climbing quality is varied but mostly good.

Climb the lower crack section for about 3-4 pitches depending on how far you stretch it. There is no real distinct crack to follow so just go with the flow. After this section, you'll reach the upper wall where the difficulty eases off and it should be 4th class to the top.


Starting from the east side of Pingora, around the corner from the south shoulder, find a snowpatch. The climbing starts to the right of this.

Descent: rappel the south buttress from fixed anchor. You'll need double ropes and some downclimbing after that.


Standard rack

Photos of East Face, Left Side Cracks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: "Pingora-East Face, Left-Side Cracks". P...
BETA PHOTO: "Pingora-East Face, Left-Side Cracks". P...
Rock Climbing Photo: East Face
East Face
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2 clean crack
Pitch 2 clean crack
Rock Climbing Photo: following the sustained corner
following the sustained corner
Rock Climbing Photo: One variation, there are many.
BETA PHOTO: One variation, there are many.
Rock Climbing Photo: sea of granite
sea of granite
Rock Climbing Photo: Gokul, about p9 (just above the East Ledges)
Gokul, about p9 (just above the East Ledges)
Rock Climbing Photo: Gokul, p2
Gokul, p2
Rock Climbing Photo: high and wide
high and wide
Rock Climbing Photo: High on the East face nearing the summit. Great cl...
High on the East face nearing the summit. Great cl...
Rock Climbing Photo: Hand crack about p 7-8.
Hand crack about p 7-8.
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of route - parallel cracks or dihedral on th...
Start of route - parallel cracks or dihedral on th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Somewhere on the route--looks like the bottom stil...
Somewhere on the route--looks like the bottom stil...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of the east face
BETA PHOTO: Start of the east face

Comments on East Face, Left Side Cracks Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 31, 2016
By Geoffrey M
From: St. Louis, MO
Sep 1, 2008

I think this route (at least as we did it) is much longer than 800 ft. We did somewhere around 8 pitches, with 4-5 of them rope stretchers, on a 70 m rope, just to get to the large ledge (shared with East Ledges route) below the top section.

I believe we started left of the location indicated in the beta photo (just right of the left-facing corner, below a roof about 80-100' up. We then did a fairly easy, but heady and poorly protected traverse right to reach a wide, right angling crack, which we followed to an enjoyable 5.6 hand crack. From there, we followed a variety of grassy left-facing corners and broken crack systems to the upper ledge.

I think the upper section only backs off in difficulty if you follow the East Ledges to the top. We did not climb the upper pitches (got a late start and ran out of day light and energy), but they are supposed to be 5.7 climbing.

The descent from South Buttress is possible with one 70 m rope, or one 60 and some down-climbing.
By Darren O'Connor
Sep 16, 2008

The Kelsey guide book, "Wind River Mountains", lists this as a route that can be easily escaped for those not wanting a one day ascent of Pingora. Doing this route in August, 2008, it was hard to say where the exit could be found. The route begins at about the lowest section of rock on the wall, and we did it in 13 roped pitches, though some were mostly fourth class. After many pitches, maybe 6 or 7, there were several pitches of high quality 5.7, so be prepared for such grades. After doing several of those and having the time go by quicker than expected, my partner and I began looking for the easy way up the top section, while also searching, fruitlessly, for the rappel. Even without going to the summit, we had to come very close in order to get to the rappel--I'd say we were less than 100 easy feet of climbing from the summit when we spotted the anchors.

If you are a moderate climber, be ready for a full day of climbing with many excellent quality pitches on this route. None of the guides we found provide enough detail to always know you are on route, but it was true for us that we could pick the best available line and end up doing 5.7 or less difficulty while climbing mostly quality rock.
By Robert Henderson
From: Wilson, WY
Apr 21, 2009

There are two escapes if one chooses to use them. One is after the first 3-4 pitches, where the angle eases, you can traverse off to the left and rap/downclimb a wide low-angle gully. The other is the original east ledge route high on the rock.
Two good starts also. One is the parallel cracks in the middle of the face, the alternative (on crowded days) is a left-facing dihedral 30' to the left of the cracks. (see photo)

Plan on about 12 pitches, the most interesting are up high.

When I climbed it, there was a party flailing in the parallel cracks so we used the left-facing dihedral to scoot around them. After a couple of nice 5.6 pitches, we veered right for a few pitches on low angle slabs to get back on line. Then 2 pitches in a nice hand crack followed by a obvious dihedral brings you to the East Ledges route. Above that 2 more difficult pitches (5.7) to the top. Fun route and much easier than the classic NE face.
By Liz Donley
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 11, 2009

This is a great route with lots of offwidth. I think that it is at least 1500 feet though. We did it in 8 long pitches, and we simulclimbed on three of the pitches. All pitches were rope stretchers with 60m ropes. We even thought that this route was better than the classic pingora line, and the way we went it seemed comparable in difficulty. I'd also say that if the classic line is Grade IV this is grade IV as well.
By Johnny K
Jul 15, 2010

I recently climbed this route on July 9th, 2010. Every guidebook I read stated that this was a 7-8 pitch climb. Truthfully, it was quite a bit longer than that, more like 11-12 pitches, unless we were way off route. The climb felt very strait forward and the cracks obvious, so I don't believe we were off route very much if any.

The climb is really quite awesome, hand cracks, fist jams, or any appendage you can squeeze in a crack works well. There is a traverse on the 4th pitch (or 2nd - cant remember), that really gets the blood pumping. On the traverse there is great friction, but no real "holds" so be confident when doing it.

On the repel, again the guidebook said just repel off the Southwest Buttress, but again that was a little vague. You do in fact want to repel of the Southwest Buttress, but know that the first repel station was not existent and you need to set up your own and repel down the small gullies to the "1st" repel station. You can probably do the first little repel to the repel station unroped, but we had snow up there and it was just better to be on a rope. Once you get to the 1st repel station its really strait forward. We used a double 60m rope and it worked really well and gave us enough rope to get from station to station w/out downclimbing.

Have fun - its a blast.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 25, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is a nice, easily accessed line with clean rock and easy escape and descent. It really is pretty big - more in the 10+ pitch range, so it is a good warm up for harder long lines. Lots of fat cracks but good feet so very few offwidth moves.
By J. Surette
From: Denver, CO
Aug 19, 2013
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

This route is way more than 800 feet. We climbed it to the summit in 10 pitches. Eight pitches were rope stretchers on a 66 meter rope, and two were a little bit longer than half rope pitches. We figured it was about 1,600 feet of climbing.

All pitches were roped. There was no 4th class terrain to be found in the middle section, just some low 5th class that could be simul-climbed. The upper pitches were the crux and I would say were sustained 5.8- or 5.7.

Great climb, this should definitely be on your list.
By alpineinertia
From: Seattle, Washington
Jan 2, 2014

We carried one #4 cam and were glad to have it. I think we ended up a little left of the regular route for a pitch or two up high and encountered some offwidth where I was glad to at least have a 'tipped out' #4 for piece of mind.

The middle can be simulclimbed and there is a great spot to have lunch before the climbing steepens again.
By Bevie
Feb 3, 2014

I'm not sure where you are getting your info from but from the base of the route to the summit it was a full on 10 pitch route. according to the topo that we followed when we climbed east face left side cracks the route starts at the right of the k crack buttress and goes to the summit for a total of approximately 1600 feet. also, the hardest move was on pitch 5 or 6 and it goes at 5.8+_ so that would make the route a 5.8 wouldn't it?
By Gokul
Aug 18, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

We did this in 10 pitches, starting on the leftward curving crack a little right of the left-facing dihedral. All but a couple of the pitches were a full 60 m and we simuled a little on one of them. Except for 2-3 pitches in the middle that were mostly 4th with a few 5th class moves, all other pitches felt pretty close to 5.7. We think we kept pretty close to the line in Bechtel and some combination of lines described in Kelsey (via the 5.8 roof variation).
By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Aug 19, 2014

Compares well with Royal Arches.
By Forrest Williams
Aug 20, 2015

I climbed the route 8/23/13 with my buddy Jack. However, we were off route for most of the climb. We started up the 5.5 variation to the start too bypass a slow party. Unfortunately we never saw the exit back onto the main route and ended up following the large dihedral for 400 more feet until it ended in a large roof. We bypassed the roof on the left side by traversing under it. From here we went up the slap for one more long pitch then simul climbed to the headwall. After two more long pitches we were on the large ledge with the Left side cracks stellar upper dihedral. Does anyone know what this variation is? In total we did 10 pitches, 8 of them around 200 feet and 1 of them being the simul climbing pitch. Cheers!
By Jeremy.M
Aug 29, 2015

I don't know if we were ever on the standard route, there seem to be lots of options. I think we were a little farther left than most people and we definitely got into some 5.8 climbing or harder. I would not recommend this climb unless you are very confident at 5.7. In particular, after the easy section of simul-climbing we headed for the right side of the huge right facing dihedral because that's how it looks in the beta photo. This RF dihedral was off-width in sections and certainly harder than 5.7. I think the standard route is to the right of this. Great route, especially the pitch right off of the East Ledges intersection, just beware that it can easily get harder than 5.7. Maybe if we had started and stayed farther right the 5.7 would have been obvious and easy to follow.

Like everyone else says, this is more like 1600 feet. Using a 70 meter rope we did 3 decently long pitches (about 500ft), simul-climbed/soloed about 350ft in the easy stuff, two more long pitches (~450ft) to the East Ledges route, then two final considerable pitches to the top (~350ft).

By a Ball
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 19, 2016

Although the k-cracks pitch around the corner is stellar, this route is better (and way longer)! We had some route finding challenges, but more or less were able to follow cracks all the way up with a few exciting slab traverses to spice things up. Definitely found a good bit of OW that, for 5.7, felt...stout.

We also did this route on an iffy weather day. I think there are four options for escape at various points on the route (we didn't actually try these): 1) bail down climber's left gully with raps and downclimbing (low on route); 2) escape left on big ledges connecting to base of south buttress (about 1/2 or 2/3s up); 3) escape and downclimb 5.2 east ledges route (about two pitches from the top) or 4) scramble quickly to summit via east ledges route.
By Forrest Williams
Aug 31, 2016

Climbed this route again this August and I tried to access the upper dihedral pitch via the large left facing dihedral that is on the far right side of the k-cracks ledge. The first pitch was great clean crack climbing followed by a pitch that didn't turn out. The real way up through the headwall still vexes me.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About