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Northeast Face 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1200', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Daley and Yensan, 1962, FFA Frishman and Krisjansons
Season: Summer/Fall
Page Views: 54,514
Submitted By: Mark Boissevain on May 18, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (188)
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BETA PHOTO: Pingora's Northeast Face approximate route shown. ...


Classic Wind River climb! Incredibly consistent, classic, sustained (at the grade) backcountry climbing in the west. Classic enough that it made the 50 classicly crowded climbs book, so expect parties to be in the area vying for the early slot. Be prepared to start early anyway to avoid afternoon t-storms that one can't see until they come over the formation from the southwest. You'll see what the fuss is over, though, with the great views, exposure, and beautiful climbing that every pitch offers. Route finding skills will be put to the test in a couple key locations, and retreat after the first 300 feet will be a challenge.

Head up the 3rd class ramp that heads toward the sloping ledge system, traverse and/or downclimb to reach the ledge, thinking about the 2nd as you place gear. Belay just past the ledge where good pro presents itself in the left leaning ramp that leads to the dihedral with a prominent roof.

Climb the dihedral, either belaying below or after the roof.

Climb a long pitch, starting first right, then back left to a fun 5.8 crack and belay.

Ascend the left leaning system of ledges and dihedral cracks for at least 2 pitches (even with a 60m). The Kelsey topo forgets how long this section is. Going right early will end in a dead end.

Do finally head right with some spaced pro up the ledges until the 5.8 flare and 5.9 3" variation become unmistakable back to the left. Struggle up the flare to easier ground and belay left at the ledge.

Continue leftward, past a large flake and up to belay at the base of a crack leading to a chimney continue up or step again left and continue the crack system to for a long pitch and belay.

Head up to the base of either of two chimney systems. Another pitch up either of the chimney sections leads to the east ledges platform.

Another pitch awaits to the upper summit. Ascend to the top, then make a short rappel to gain the summit proper.

Walk/scramble over then down the 3rd class gully to the south to reach the South Face/K cracks rappels (two ropes recommended) 3 or 4 raps lead to the ledge that heads further left to the South Buttress descent.


Cirque of the Towers. Find trails at the north side of the lake at the base, hike left of stream into rock field and scramble left, left of the prominent base of a gently curving ledge that becomes a long dihedral ending at a roof. Rack up on the low-angle rock, then head left up the 3rd-class ramp. Don't be surprised if the start seems somewhat exposed as you head to the left.


Standard Winds rack, pro to 4" (for the 5.8 flare it's nice to have). Nuts and cams to 1" come in handy, and doubles 1" to 2", one 3", one 4". Little fixed gear, and you probably should prepare to back that up.

This will be 12-13 long pitches with a 50m rope, even though the Kelsey topo shows 11. A 60m rope can conveniently reduce that by 2.

Photos of Northeast Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The view of Lonesome Lake from the Northeast Face,...
The view of Lonesome Lake from the Northeast Face,...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rapping off
Rapping off
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit of Pingora in June
Summit of Pingora in June
Rock Climbing Photo: P6 - start of P6 with P7 off width visible above
BETA PHOTO: P6 - start of P6 with P7 off width visible above
Rock Climbing Photo: P2 - we climbed the face left of the dihedral to s...
BETA PHOTO: P2 - we climbed the face left of the dihedral to s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gary Hall leading an early pitch, August 1974
Gary Hall leading an early pitch, August 1974
Rock Climbing Photo: Northeast face of Pingora. Summer '98.
BETA PHOTO: Northeast face of Pingora. Summer '98.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pingora summit pano
Pingora summit pano
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Owen on P3
Chris Owen on P3
Rock Climbing Photo: P10 - more of a flaring open book shape.  Tough 5....
BETA PHOTO: P10 - more of a flaring open book shape. Tough 5....
Rock Climbing Photo: Getting rejected with April snow and ice on NE Fac...
Getting rejected with April snow and ice on NE Fac...
Rock Climbing Photo: P5 - this is looking down on P5 from the P6 belay....
BETA PHOTO: P5 - this is looking down on P5 from the P6 belay....
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave on lead.
Dave on lead.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tight belay spot at the top of pitch 2 .
Tight belay spot at the top of pitch 2 .
Rock Climbing Photo: Adam from the summit
Adam from the summit
Rock Climbing Photo: start of pitch 1. before you get to the first bela...
start of pitch 1. before you get to the first bela...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the peak overlooking the south end o...
The view from the peak overlooking the south end o...
Rock Climbing Photo: P4, long grassy seams
P4, long grassy seams
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back while on NE Face.
Looking back while on NE Face.
Rock Climbing Photo: northeast face route starts above and right of wat...
BETA PHOTO: northeast face route starts above and right of wat...
Rock Climbing Photo: Our buddies on one of the many pitches that rise a...
Our buddies on one of the many pitches that rise a...
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux pitch of NE Face, Pingora.  Photo credit: fro...
BETA PHOTO: Crux pitch of NE Face, Pingora. Photo credit: fro...
Rock Climbing Photo: pitch 3? or so
pitch 3? or so

Comments on Northeast Face Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 13, 2017
By Murf
May 26, 2006

Kelsey's topo is completely off. If you wish to adhere to his maxim of minimal, and in this case, incorrect, information ignore this link. Below is a link to Bruce Binder's ( brutusofwyde ) excellent and detailed NE of Pingora topo from SummitPost:
By Armin Colorado
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 21, 2006

I did this route and thought you could get by without the #4, just bump your #3 camalot (or Equiv) up another foot once you make the move at the crux. I haven't lead anything over 10c trad. Also, on brutus topo from summitpost belay right of where it says to belay for pitch 8 after making the traverse to a much better stance, below the word "flake" on the topo. Sounds complicated but once you are there you will see it.
By Peter Gram
From: Cupertino, CA
Aug 29, 2006

I also didn't think the #4 camalot was necessary, or even useful. I think I placed it in an anchor at one point, but never needed it during the wide pitch.
By Sarge
Mar 31, 2007

This is one of the few climbs that wholeheartedly deserves to be in the 50 classics. Superb route. Warning, weather in the Cirque is crazy. No warning when coming.
By rpc
Mar 21, 2008

Fun climb. My wife & I did this on a 3day weekend from Portland and so I mostly remember the driving :)
Another vote for Brutus' topo on summitpost above (excellent!).
By jhump
Jun 30, 2008

Anyone been up here yet this year? I am going to try this 4th of July weekend. Any beta on conditions is much aprreciated.
By Nubbins80
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug 18, 2008

What is the best way to find the rap route off the top of Pingora
By Matt Stamplis
From: Boston, MA
Aug 21, 2008

Regarding the rappel: the easiest way down is to reverse the South Buttress. From the summit look out towards Jackass Pass and Warbonnet Peak - you'll be descending in that general direction. Look for a gully marked with a cairn: easy scrambling for a hundred feet or so leads to a ledge with no easy way down. Peak over the edge and look for a slung chockstone. From there, I think the rap stations were all pretty obvious - a single 70m rope worked well (60 reportedly is OK too).

I remember doing 4 rappels or so to reach a good ledge. From here you walk skier's left and follow the cairns as they head down the South Buttress - should be no harder than 2nd/3rd class.
By Josh Fog
Aug 8, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I got off route on pitch 8. The book was very unspecific about the traverse left into another crack system. I continued up the crack which gets to be thin 5.10 fingers PG-13. The next pitch i went through the wide section that the book tells you to ignore which tops out back on route. This pitch was not bad, fun vedauwoo style wide crack!
By Chrisleath
From: Johnson City, TN
Apr 16, 2012

Watch out for mosquitos! Other than that greatest climb I have had the privilege of doing.
By TomG
Jul 17, 2012

Anyone know exactly (month/date) when the FFA was made?
By wehlhung1
Mar 9, 2013

stuck to the topo best we could, but im pretty sure we only climbed like 30% of the actual route
By John Groh
Aug 30, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I think we got off route for 2-3 pitches and encountered climbing in the solid 5.10 range.

Also, don't trust the Bechtel guide. For starters, it incorrectly lists the number of rappels to get off the summit! It also calls the crux pitch of the route 5.6, which is certainly not the case (I only know it was the crux pitch because we ran into a local from Lander exactly there).

Awesome climb, though. Loooooong.
By Charlie S
From: Ogden, UT
Jul 26, 2014

Yet another vote for the BrutusOfWyde topo from Summitpost. Between that and studying a number of pictures available online, sticking to the route was easier than expected.

This is a cool route up a cool rock in a very cool setting. I used literally every anchor building technique I'd ever learned on this route. It is not for the budding 5.8 climber. Efficiency and proficiency are key to summiting in a reasonable amount of time.
By Alex Warren
From: Duluth, MN
Aug 20, 2014
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

Did it in 8 pitches (including the slab traverse at the bottom and excluding the scramble at the top). Lots of ledges to belay from, so my 2 cents for anyone doing their research is :

1) Stay in the right facing corners. It goes more or less straight up. Don't follow roofs, easy lines, etc. Just climb the right facing corner.

2) Make your pitches super long. My partner and myself would climb until we reached a ledge and had no gear or rope left. Did it with a double and had no problems. I mean, if you're here to climb then climb a bunch!
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Aug 26, 2014
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Regarding the crux pitch 7:

For most, it will seem clear which of several cracks is the "5.8 wide" option (i.e., the one on the far left).

There seems to be some question in the community regarding which of the other cracks is the 5.9 variation shown in most topos out there (e.g., the topo ).

See this Photo for more discussion.
By Sean A Smith
From: South Salt Lake, UT
Aug 18, 2015
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

We used the topo on Summit Post (see the link on the first comment by Murf) and found it to be pretty good although it does leave out some detail that would be nice to have. We used a 70 meter rope and used both of the alternate belays on the topo. This allowed us to link the end of pitch 6 and all of pitch 7. We also would have liked to link pitch 9 and 10 as they were both quite short. Doing it this way would make the route 8 pitches instead of 10 and saves quite a bit of time.
By Peter Howes
Sep 15, 2015
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Had the privilege of climbing this amazing route in August 2015. Here are a few short notes that reiterate what others have said.

Using the Brutus topo ( ) and the amazing Wombat trip report ( ) we felt very prepared.

Route finding was surprisingly straight forward. Every time I pulled out the topo and photos I was pretty much exactly where one of the pictures had be taken. I definitely did a wild variation on pitch 9, but only because I was tired and probably rushing (don't do that, it took us just over 6 hours and we aren't fast)

The wide pitch is awesome. Super fun, and protectable. I carried the #4 so I placed it, but I'm quite certain you could bump a #3 and feel comfortable.

I would recommend climbing the k-crack the day before if you've never been up Pingora. This gives you the chance to get the descent dialed and the k-crack is totally rad.

And get the early start! Our alpine start karma gave us the route to ourselves. Could not have been a better climb!
By Eli B.
Aug 26, 2016

Fantastic route. We brought a #4 along and found it very useful. For the decent, Don't try and rap from the notch directly below the NE summit (big blocky ledges). Instead, you descend via the gully nearer to the true summit. There will likely be footprints in the dirt and a cairn to indicate the gully. Go down the gully until you reach a ledge. Some short but awkward down climbing will lead you to a less-than-obvious rap station. The rest is straight forward. A single 70m rope worked well.
By Lyle Harte
From: Denver
Aug 27, 2016

NOTE: This route can be repelled using a single 60m rope. My partner and I brought up two but when we saw how short the repels looked we only used one and were able to get down the K-Crack repels just fine. This does make bailing significantly more difficult, but pick your poison. Also, the pitch after the 5.8 flare is utterly fantastic. My partner climbed it to the full length of a sixty meter just over the roof bulge before the 5.6 chimney and I was awestruck by its quality.
By Forrest Williams
Aug 31, 2016

Climbing with a 70m rope my partner and I did this in 7 pitches. However we climbed crack systems to the right to bypass slower parties for about half the route. The climbing was fun and provided s great alternative to the crowded middle pitches. If your leading there at the 5.10 level hop on and cruise right about 70 feet above the dual crack in a large dihedral (pitch 3 on topo?) and continue with 3 full rope lengths till you join a ledge above the off width pitch on the proper climb. Going right at the top up a thin crack to an easy chimney was also a fun alternative ending.
By kck
Sep 13, 2017
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Are there two chimney systems at the top (p10 or so)? We followed the summitpost topo and it matches the description, but it doesn't match this picture:

The pitch I climbed was pretty easy. 5.6 or so, not sandbagged. It has a very thin crack on the face for a purple TCU, and the chimney follows a left ramp up. We ended up exactly where we should be and unroped and scrambled to the summit. I wouldn't describe the chimney as an open book or anything though.

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