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South Buttress 

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

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 500', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Wally Green, Bill Primak 1951
Season: Summer
Page Views: 20,377
Submitted By: Ben Mottinger on May 26, 2006

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Top of the K Cracks father/son photo.


A nice little route with two really nice pitches. This description is for the 5.8 variation, but the route goes at 5.6 also.

P1: After the 4th class scramble to the start, climb a nice r-facing corner system for a long pitch (maybe some simul climbing is necessary) to a little perch at the foot of a clean wall with a crack that splits. (5.7, 200ft)

P2: For the 5.6 variation head left to a dihedral. For the 5.8 variation, head straight up the fine crack (wide to start, then hand/finger) and at the split head left. This sews up and is the best pitch of the route.

P3: Easy scrambling to the top.


Scramble up to the base of the shoulder via 4th class sections on the east side. Descent: rap off fixed anchors using two ropes then downclimbing.


Standard rack

Photos of South Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A little Yoga on top of Pingora
A little Yoga on top of Pingora
Rock Climbing Photo: Sweet 5.8 crack section
Sweet 5.8 crack section
Rock Climbing Photo: Fast on the draw, Carl P atop Pingora.  Climbing 2...
Fast on the draw, Carl P atop Pingora. Climbing 2...
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of Pingora
Top of Pingora
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading Left "K" crack
Leading Left "K" crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Jen coming up the K Crack.
Jen coming up the K Crack.
Rock Climbing Photo: Enjoying P2
Enjoying P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Notice the obvious K-Cracks.
BETA PHOTO: Notice the obvious K-Cracks.
Rock Climbing Photo: the msu crew coming up the k cracks, august 2010
the msu crew coming up the k cracks, august 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Chuck and I on top of Pingora.
Chuck and I on top of Pingora.
Rock Climbing Photo: One of our many trips to the Winds.
One of our many trips to the Winds.
Rock Climbing Photo: Taking the right K-crack
Taking the right K-crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Taking the right K-crack
Taking the right K-crack
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking southeast from the South Shoulder. Photo b...
Looking southeast from the South Shoulder. Photo b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Alexis on our 3rd pitch
Alexis on our 3rd pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Gokul, top of pitch 2
Gokul, top of pitch 2
Rock Climbing Photo: First roped pitch as we climbed it.  Slings around...
BETA PHOTO: First roped pitch as we climbed it. Slings around...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch two as we climbed it.
Pitch two as we climbed it.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonny climbing the 5.8 variation to South Buttress...
Jonny climbing the 5.8 variation to South Buttress...
Rock Climbing Photo: Stemming out on P2
Stemming out on P2
Rock Climbing Photo: First belay anchor atop short first pitch.  From h...
BETA PHOTO: First belay anchor atop short first pitch. From h...
Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the S Buttress
Approaching the S Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: Gokul, on the K crack
Gokul, on the K crack
Rock Climbing Photo: P1 corner
P1 corner

Show All 28 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on South Buttress Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 7, 2017
By Rob Hyldahl
Jul 29, 2006

Excellent route! Fairly short and un-commiting (by wind river standards) but you can't beat the setting and the superb rock. The 5.8 variation (k-crack) made the route! It was definitely one of the best single pitches of climbing that i've ever done. The descent is easy and straight-forward. All in all a great route to begin with if you are new to the Winds.
By Armin Colorado
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 22, 2006

can run P'1-2 together w/ 70m, just barely reaches belay ledge. The crux of the climb will probably be the approach, unless you are an anaerobic machine
By Chris Owen
From: Big Bear Lake
Nov 11, 2006

1993: Rained on for 6 days, 7th day dawned very clear, did this route on that final day with Fred Batliner. K-Crack was superb, very similar to a Joshua Tree pitch, but in a wonderful American West alpine setting.

The route is also a great quick way off Pingora.
By Hayduke Cloud
From: Denver, CO
Jul 5, 2007

The above route description is a little mis-leading. What the author is calling the 'first pitch' is actually about 240-250 ft long. Your second could certainly simul-climb, as the climbing is moderate, but there is no way to stretch the rope and gain the base of the K-crack. Maybe with a 70m, but even that would be pushing it. Probably best to break it into two pitches. This is a fantastic little climb, and the K-crack variation is certainly worth all the fuss. Descent can be made with one 60m rope via four rappels from the top of the K-crack. You may have to downclimb a little bit of 5.0 on a couple of the rappels.
By Tom Rangitsch
From: Lander, WY
Aug 17, 2008

If you are doing the Cirque Traverse, this is the easiest/fastest way to get to the top of Pingora. You can simul-climb the last bit of pitch one/two(probably 220 feet) and then hurry up the K crack pitch (pitch 3 as described in Bechtel's guide), then scramble up to the top. We did it in about 40 minutes and we weren't moving too fast. The rappel down to the notch by Tiger Tower/Wolf's Head is not as obvious as described in the new guide. You need to head to climber's left to get to the second rappel station, don't head down the most obvious line on the first rappel (you can see the rappel slings from the first station and they are not at the base of the dihedral that you see from the first rappel station). It's four rappels with a sixty meter to the notch and some of the slings on the rappel are not in the best shape.
By G. Neely
From: Denver, CO
Aug 30, 2009

The 5.8 (K-Crack) variation is fantastic. It protects well-go for it!
By Mark Thomas
Aug 31, 2010
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

If you link this with the East Face Left Side Cracks it makes for a great full day.
By cragsavvy
From: Salt Lake City
Sep 25, 2010

Long approach.. Easy breeze for the first two pitches with easy fun granite cracks. Base of the 3rd pitch is wide and roomy, with lots of rooms for multiple parties. The 5.6 crack to the right that you can climb in variation to the K crack, is more like 5.7. The right K crack I found moderately easy, 5.6-5.7. On the second rappel, if you have one rope you have to rap over to a right ledge with more rap slings on the right. Make it down straight forward from there. A 60 meter will NOT make it, bring a 70 meter.
By Liz Donley
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 30, 2010

Short for the area, but good for a relatively easy day, or a day when the weather is iffy. Since the rappels are so close to the route, you can get down easily at any time by heading left from the climb.
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Aug 23, 2011

Less serious than it looks, this climb has some fantastic climbing. P2 is really sweet and the "k" crack finish 5.8, is definetly a beautiful pitch. Awesome summit and views from Pingora make this an easy, beautiful alpine climb.
By Cam Reade
Aug 28, 2011

1.5 hour approach to base of pitch one. can run pitch 1&2 together with a 70m rope. the 5.8 K crack pitch was fantastic!
By markguycan
From: flagstaff, AZ
Sep 15, 2011

Leisurely start- left camp after 9am. Climbed it as 4 pitches: linked first two- minimal pro placed to diminish drag, then short corner to traverse- easy with great views, then the long dihedral pitch -felt the most difficult, then finished on the "Best 5.6 Ever" left of the K Crack, also did and enjoyed the K Crack but IMHO the 5.6 was more memorable. Late lunch on top, napping in the meadow by mid afternoon. 1 70M easily gets you off, a 60M would work with 2 short easy downclimbs. Rack: set of nuts, single set cams to #3camalot, 6slings. 4*'s!
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 8, 2013

We ended up climbing several pitches to the left of the corner. More in line with the K cracks. They went at something a little stouter than 5.6. Somewhere around 5.7 with an awkward flaring chimney/offwidth that is difficult to protect. Interesting, but not super classic. The final 5.6 variation is excellent though and protects well.
By Chris Dickson
From: Telluride, Colorado
Aug 4, 2015

My partner and I found that this route can be rapped with just one 60m rope (despite what some of the above comments say) in 4 rappels. The 2nd rap is a FULL 100ft rappel, so watch your ends, but we did it this way without any problems.
By jediah porter
Sep 10, 2015

I'll see Chris' 60m bid, and "raise" to 50. I rapped Pingora 4 times in the last couple weeks, all with a single 50m rope. I down climbed nothing but the absolute lowest bit to the big traverse ledge back towards the approach ridge. I used that same 50m on the Wolfs Head descent too. I had a tag line, but next time in there I won't bring it. It goes like this:

-rap number one to a likely seldom used, slung thread climbers left of the K Cracks. Exactly 25 m.
-rap number two back climbers right, short (12m?), to another slung horn, this one with tons of slings. Here's where you end up on rap 1 with a 70m
-rap 3 straight down, about 20m. To an excellent stance with a funny, double-body-size protruding horn.
-Number 4 goes straight down too, to a slung thread at a small stance.
-Number 5. 25m gets you to the top of a fourth class down climb onto walking terrain.

Just another option, if you want to stop the absurd rope-length inflation! You're walking 9 miles in, why carry pounds of extra rope?
By MasterBeta
Jul 15, 2016

I'm confused.. bechtel's book has two pitches before the k cracks, 220ft total both at 5.6.. did you climb the corners to the left of the route? because those are 5.7's.
P1-"climb up ledges and cracks to a right-facing handcrack dihedral. climb this past small ledges to a nice belay on a large ledge. 100 feet"

Here's a pic I ripped from one of the posts here. Tried to outline what I thought was the route. Some disparities between guidebooks, which is weird considering it seems like such a straightforward climb. Let me know if I screwed anything up!
Rock Climbing Photo: route outline
route outline
By Floyd Hayes
Aug 15, 2016
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

If there is a class 3 way of getting to the main cracks, my partner and I didn't find it. From a big ledge at what appeared to be the base of the climb, we climbed the right crack (5.5 with rap rings at the top) of a short wall (40') to a big ledge where the main cracks begin about 15' to the right. We then climbed two pitches (80' and 170') to the base of K-Crack. Above K-Crack it is class 3 to the summit, there is no need to stay roped. ADDED LATER: Now I see why we needed an extra pitch, we started below and left of the start in the photo above this comment.
By climberboy
Aug 7, 2017

Amazing route. Couldn't find the class three start to the base of the first pitch, so we roped up early and we able to do it in 3 long pitches plus the class 3 scrambling at the top. On a side note - why has no one mentioned the heinous approach? We did the 6 miles to Big Sandy Lake in 2 hours and it took another 2.5ish to go the additional 3 miles to the cirque. This was with heavy packs which didn't help. All the climbers we ran in to on the trail were shocked at how long/steep the last 2 miles of the trail were. Anyway, this route and the cirque as a whole were awesome.

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