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Page Workshop

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Created/Edited: Sep 25, 2006 / Aug 20, 2014

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Old Easy 8600

On USGS topo maps, Turtle Rock is the whole "massif" that is the centerpiece of Central Vedauwoo, and it makes sense that the trail circumnavigating it is called Turtle Rock Trail.

However, climbers recognize several of the crags of this complex by individual names, which adds some flavor to the area but, more importantly, helps with the sorting of routes.

Old Easy is the highest crag in the complex, with an interpolated elevation of 8620'. It is the peak to the east of the Box Canyon trailhead and the picnic area in Vedauwoo Glen. You can get to the summit with some Class 4 scrambling. The actual Turtle Rock is nearly as high, and it is maddeningly difficult to tell from each of them which is higher, but a careful study of a topo map will confirm that Old Easy is the higher of the two. This is a good thing for scramblers; the actual highpoint of Turtle Rock is not attainable by anything under Class 5 climbing.

In fact, of the highest crags in the Turtle Rock area of Vedauwoo, Old Easy is the easiest to climb; the other three that really stand out go at what I would call Class 4+ at the easiest to at least 5.4.

If you're going to climb at Vedauwoo, you should get Heel and Toe: The Climbs of Greater Vedauwoo, by Skip Harper and Rob Kelman. The Mountain Project page for Vedauwoo is free to use and has a lot of information, but unless you already know Vedauwoo or know exactly what you're looking for, it's hard to navigate. But the book, with all its photos and diagrams, really helps make sense of the area.

Another good source of information on the area is Vedauwoo.org. Also, try the Forest Service site, though it's not good for climbing information.

Vedauwoo is famed for its off-width cracks (and larger than that) and its rough granite. Just about any source on the area that you find will warn you to use tape or be prepared to bleed if you are doing technical climbs. Quite often, people recommend kneepads and/or long pants and sleeves as well.

Please add route pages or detailed information about the climbing routes on this peak!

Getting There

From I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne, leave the highway at Exit 329, marked for Vedauwoo. This is about 16 miles from Laramie. Take Vedauwoo Road east and drive 1.2 miles before turning left onto a well-signed road for the Vedauwoo Recreation Area. Stop at the self-pay station and then proceed. Signs point you to the campground, picnic areas, and trailheads. The best trailhead to use for accessing the crags is Box Canyon.

Vedauwoo Road is usually clear of snow by May and sometimes as early as April.

Route Information

Rock Climbing

My edition of the Harper-Kelman guide, which is a 1998 printing, subdivides Old Easy into three sections: the MRC Complex, the Golden Triangle, and the Pelvis. In all, the book covers 27 routes among these three sections, all of them trad routes.

As of this page's creation date, the MP page for Old Easy had 19 routes listed and described; more than half were bouldering routes, and the rest were all trad with one sport route.

A classic here is the two-pitch 5.9 MRC Direct, which can be combined with 5.9+ Straight Edge to make a three-pitch route.

Scramble to the Summit

If you want to get to the summit, head up the Box Canyon Trail a short distance and then depart it and make your way for the face of Old Easy. Using a system of ledges and gullies (some route-finding skills required, as there is no straight line or cairned route), get to the "summit ridge" and route-find your way to the highpoint.

On both the ascent up the face and the attainment of the highpoint, I encountered Class 4 terrain. While it may be possible that something a little easier may exist, you need to go expecting Class 3 and ready for Class 4.

Views from the top are expansive, taking in Greater Vedauwoo and the surrounding plains.

To descend, go back the way you came or make Old Easy just one of several stops as you traverse the "peaks" of the Turtle Rock area. The next-closest peak is Friction Tower, which will require some Class 5 both on the approach to the summit block and then up that block itself.

Red Tape

The self-pay fee was, I think, in July 2014, $5 per vehicle per day. Passes are accepted.

Camping

There is a 28-site campground in the recreation area. It is first-come, first-served and fills quickly on weekends in good weather. Vault toilets and drinking water are available, though in July 2014 the water wasn't flowing or I was just at the wrong pump. The camping fee was $10 per night in July 2014. Closed during the winter, the campground is usually open by the beginning of June.

There is a lot of dispersed camping available nearby, with some restrictions (for example, postings prohibit camping too close to the turnoff for the recreation area.

Warrior 1

Running west along the Continental Divide between Warbonnet Peak and Wisconsin Couloir is a ridge that houses two notable summits known as the Warriors. Warrior 1 is the lower of the two and the closer to Warbonnet. It also boasts some huge walls with a number of technical routes on them, so this is a nice summit for scramblers and rock climbers alike. An added plus is that it does not seem to be climbed nearly as often as some of the other peaks in the famous Cirque of the Towers are, so in an area that can see a lot of traffic for a backcountry destination, this peak promises the near-certainty of solitude, and you can see all the major peaks of the Cirque from these ones.

For scramblers wanting to experience the Cirque without dealing with the descent to Lonesome Lake and the numerous other hikers and climbers likely to be encountered around there, climbing Warbonnet Peak and both the Warriors together in one outing makes for an excellent day from a base camp in the Big Sandy Lake environs. Consider tacking on Sundance Pinnacle as well, as it is just south of Warbonnet and you pass it on the approach.

If, though, for some reason you wish to do one or both Warriors without the other peaks mentioned, it is possible to approach them without climbing Warbonnet first. Please see the section on the route description for more details.

The technical routes all start from the Cirque side, so going over Jackass Pass and descending into the basin is unavoidable in that case, though you do not necessarily have to go all the way down to Lonesome Lake.

Some topo maps simply call these peaks the Warrior Peaks and do not distinguish between the two, but since they both have their own technical routes, I think it's appropriate to have separate pages for the peaks, and also because Joe Kelsey covers them separately in his indispensable Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains. Nevertheless, people into lists should take note that Warrior 1 does not qualify as a ranked peak. Although it does have the necessary prominence from its saddle with Warbonnet, the vertical rise from the saddle between the Warriors to the summit of Warrior 2, which is the higher of the two peaks, is only around 100'. Thus, Warrior 2 would be considered a ranked peak and Warrior 1 but a subpeak of it. These kinds of things matter not a bit to me, but they do matter to some, so I hope including this information is useful.

Getting There

Much is said, and little of it positive, about the drive to Big Sandy.

It is not as bad as you might have heard or read. Yes, there are parts of the last few miles that are rocky or rutted, but I had no trouble getting there in a regular passenger car and did not have to slow to a crawl while doing so. And it's not as confusing to get there as you may have been led to believe; there is good signage along the way.

There was only one section that was pretty iffy for me: a muddy stream crossing just before the trailhead. If it looks like a no-go for your vehicle, you'll find ample parking space nearby and can cross on foot. This adds literally only a couple of minutes.

There are three main starting points for an approach to Big Sandy: Boulder (11 miles south of Pinedale), Farson, and South Pass. Because of this, I'm not going to go into detailed directions on this page.

Here are directions copied from the Forest Service website:

"From Pinedale, drive south on Hwy 191. At Boulder, turn left on Hwy 353 and drive 18 miles to the end of the pavement. Shorty after the pavement ends, go straight through the junction, and drive south crossing the Big Sandy River (Buckskin Crossing). At next junction, turn left (east) and drive 7 miles. Turn left at the following jct and follow the main road to the Big Sandy Campground and trailhead. This trailhead is remote, so be sure to have a full tank of gas."

Once you turn off the main trunk road, it is about 16 miles to the trailhead. Finding that first turnoff is critical, but there is a large sign indicating the junction. From Pinedale, it's between 50 and 60 miles to the trailhead.

From South Pass, directly across from Oregon Buttes Road, turn north onto the Lander Cutoff Road. This is a good unpaved road. Follow it until reaching the critical junction mentioned above.

From Farson, head east on WY 28 a short distance and turn north onto Farson-Little Sandy Road, which becomes Big Sandy-Elkhorn Road a bit after 5 miles. It pretty quickly becomes a good dirt road. Follow it to a junction with the Lander Cutoff Road. The turnoff to Big Sandy is nearby. Look for signs. 

Expect 1.5-2 hours of driving from any of the principal access points. Note: there is no fuel at or near South Pass.

Route Description

From the trailhead, it's about 9 miles to the summit of Warrior 1, with approximately 3300' of elevation gain. However, since you likely are going to climb an additional peak or two (or three), consider that the distance will be a bit longer (up to perhaps 11 miles in all) and the elevation gain greater. Climbing both Warriors with Warbonnet and Sundance Pinnacle as well will put you in the neighborhood of 4000'.

These numbers mean it's possible to do this as a day trip from the trailhead, but most people are going to prefer to backpack in, especially since there are many other fine day-trip destinations out here, so my suggested route takes that into account. I'm also going to assume you are climbing Warbonnet and am taking that into account as well.

Hike an easy 5.5 miles to Big Sandy Lake; you only gain 600' of elevation during this. Trail signs say it's 6 miles to the lake, but most other sources call it 5.5. I think the 6 miles is the distance to the trail junction at the head of the lake, where one can head north for Jackass Pass and the Cirque or east to Black Joe Lake or to Clear and Deep Lakes (and beyond those lakes on an unmaintained route to Temple Lake and Temple Pass). This junction was unsigned in July 2014, but it was impossible to miss.

I recommend camping near Big Sandy Lake, but you can find some more sites as you climb from the lake to North Lake. The trail steepens considerably after the junction, though, so why not spare yourself hauling a heavy pack up it unless you plan to head over the pass?

Kelsey says to leave the trail after North Lake and scramble up the talus to the notch just south of Warbonnet, but there is a faster and easier way, and it also puts you in position to climb Sundance Pinnacle. Having done both approaches, I prefer the alternative one I am describing, for it has less boulder-hopping and avoids the rough, winding trail in the vicinity of North Lake.

From the junction, hike north toward Jackass Pass. Before you reach North Lake, the trail crosses the stream draining it. Just before the crossing, which is between half a mile and a mile from the junction, leave the trail and clamber your way up to the saddle on the south side of Sundance Pinnacle. (It's Class 4 up the pinnacle on either its west or south side, though technical routes exist as well.) You're at about 10,600' now, around 900' higher than Big Sandy Lake.

Whether you climb Sundance or not, make an easy traverse along its west side and reach the notch between Sundance and Warbonnet. Climb the 1600' up Warbonnet's south ridge to its summit. This does not have to be harder than Class 3, and it is not exposed.

Kelsey says it is Class 2 from Warbonnet to Warrior 1, but I found it to be harder than that because of an intervening ridge and subpeak on Warbonnet. (This subpeak is well worth summiting for the very airy perch and the great views.) Maybe there is a Class 2 route over that ridge and I just didn't see it, but my way over it was Class 3 with a touch of Class 4. You could definitely Class 2 it by dropping way down into the basin south of the peak, but that would add significant extra distance and elevation gain.

Past the ridge, it really is just Class 2 to the top. The summit has a very remote feeling.

Just Climbing the Warriors?

From the saddle on the south side of Sundance Pinnacle, cross-country it west across the basin and then ascend the steep south slopes of Warrior 1. There was a lot of snow here in mid-July of 2014, so I strongly recommend having an ice axe. I did not have (or need) crampons, but pack them if you want that extra assurance.

Technical Routes

For specific details about the routes, see Kelsey's guide. This book is available as a digital download from Google Books and from Amazon and likely some other sources as well, so it's a great idea to have it on your phone and take it with you when going out. It beats the hell out of carrying the book, copying pages, etc.

Remember that you access these from the Cirque.
  • Northeast Face Left-- 5.10 A1
  • Northeast Face Right-- 5.9+
  • Northwest Face-- 5.11R
  • Warrior Gully-- Class 4 or 5; this is the snow couloir between the Warriors.

Red Tape

Camp 100' from streams and 200' from lakes. You will probably see some lame people camped right beside the trail, but please don't follow suit.

Black bears have been a problem around Big Sandy Lake and Lonesome Lake. Proper food storage is mandatory. Bear canisters are recommended, but if you don't have one, hang your food and other scented items well. Some campsites by Big Sandy Lake have food lockers nearby.

If a black bear attacks you, fight back. When black bears attack, they attack to kill. Playing dead is what you're supposed to do when grizzlies attack. Grizzlies have come back to the southern Winds, and although it's highly unlikely that you will encounter one here, you have to be aware of the possibility.

Camping

If you're doing this as a day climb, you can stay at Big Sandy Campground (fee) or use one of many dispersed sites near the trailhead. Big Sandy Lodge is close by and open in the summer, and it's nice but it isn't cheap.

For backcountry camping, staying around Big Sandy Lake is the best choice.

South Ridge

In his indispensable Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains, Joe Kelsey mentions a Class 3 route up Warbonnet's south ridge. In reality, this is more a climb up a series of slopes, blocks, and gullies than it is a real ridge climb. Staying on the ridge crest itself would almost certainly be more difficult than Class 3, and often exposed, and Kelsey says the route is not exposed. I would argue for calling this route the South Slopes or the South Face, but in keeping with the precedent by the sage of the Winds, I'm calling this the South Ridge here on SP even though I spent almost no time on a ridge proper.

At about 18 miles RT with around 3300' of elevation gain, this climb is doable as a day trip, but it would be more enjoyable to establish a base camp around Big Sandy Lake in order to spend a few days exploring the peaks in the area.

Warbonnet is not only a spectacular peak but also is an outstanding way to see the justifiably famous Cirque of the Towers without going over Jackass Pass. Almost every major peak in the Cirque area is visible; you can also see Mount Bonneville (maybe the crown jewel of the south-central Winds) and even all the way to Gannett Peak (the highpoint of both the Winds and Wyoming).

Route Description

Hike an easy 5.5 miles to Big Sandy Lake; you only gain 600' of elevation during this. Trail signs say it's 6 miles to the lake, but most other sources call it 5.5. I think the 6 miles is the distance to the trail junction at the head of the lake, where one can head north for Jackass Pass and the Cirque or east to Black Joe Lake or to Clear and Deep Lakes (and beyond those lakes on an unmaintained route to Temple Lake and Temple Pass). This junction was unsigned in July 2014, but it was impossible to miss.

I recommend camping near Big Sandy Lake, but you can find some more sites as you climb from the lake to North Lake. The trail steepens considerably after the junction, though, so why not spare yourself hauling a heavy pack up it unless you plan to head over the pass?

Kelsey says to leave the trail after North Lake and scramble up the talus to the notch just south of Warbonnet, but there is a faster and easier way, and it also puts you in position to climb Sundance Pinnacle. Having done both approaches, I prefer the alternative one I am describing, for it has less boulder-hopping and avoids the rough, winding trail in the vicinity of North Lake. However, if you want to be stubborn and do Kelsey's route, see the picture below so you know what the notch looks like.

Now for my approach...

From the junction, hike north toward Jackass Pass. Before you reach North Lake, the trail crosses the stream draining it. Just before the crossing, which is between half a mile and a mile from the junction, leave the trail and clamber your way up to the saddle on the south side of Sundance Pinnacle. (It's Class 4 up the pinnacle on either its west or south side, though technical routes exist as well.) You're at about 10,600' now, around 900' higher than Big Sandy Lake.

Make an easy traverse along Sundance's west side and reach the notch between Sundance and Warbonnet. Climb the 1600' up Warbonnet's south ridge to its summit. This does not have to be harder than Class 3, and it is not exposed. Really, there's not much more to say about the route. Photos below illustrate parts of the climb but by no means are essential to being able to follow it.

Warrior 2

Running west along the Continental Divide between Warbonnet Peak and Wisconsin Couloir is a ridge that houses two notable summits known as the Warriors. Warrior 2 is the higher of the two and the closer to Wisconsin Couloir. Although it doesn't offer as good climbing as its brother does, it does have some technical routes, so this is a nice summit for scramblers and rock climbers alike. An added plus is that it does not seem to be climbed nearly as often as some of the other peaks in the famous Cirque of the Towers are, so in an area that can see a lot of traffic for a backcountry destination, this peak promises the near-certainty of solitude, and you can see all the major peaks of the Cirque from these ones.

For scramblers wanting to experience the Cirque without dealing with the descent to Lonesome Lake and the numerous other hikers and climbers likely to be encountered around there, climbing Warbonnet Peak and both the Warriors together in one outing makes for an excellent day from a base camp in the Big Sandy Lake environs. Consider tacking on Sundance Pinnacle as well, as it is just south of Warbonnet and you pass it on the approach.

If, though, for some reason you wish to do one or both Warriors without the other peaks mentioned, it is possible to approach them without climbing Warbonnet first. Please see the section on the route description for more details.

The technical routes all start from the Cirque side, so going over Jackass Pass and descending into the basin is unavoidable in that case, though you do not necessarily have to go all the way down to Lonesome Lake.

Some topo maps simply call these peaks the Warrior Peaks and do not distinguish between the two, but since they both have their own technical routes, I think it's appropriate to have separate pages for the peaks, and also because Joe Kelsey covers them separately in his indispensable Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains. Nevertheless, people into lists should take note that Warrior 1 does not qualify as a ranked peak. Although it does have the necessary prominence from its saddle with Warbonnet, the vertical rise from the saddle between the Warriors to the summit of Warrior 2 is only around 100'. Thus, Warrior 2 would be considered a ranked peak and Warrior 1 but a subpeak of it. These kinds of things matter not a bit to me, but they do matter to some, so I hope including this information is useful, since it means that although Kelsey calls Warrior 2 the "less elegant" of the two, it's the one you need to climb in order to officially "get" the Warriors.

Pages



Mountains
Badlands Peak *

Old Easy
Friction Tower
Turtle Rock
Hatbox

Pillar Buttress
Sundial Slab

Yellowstone winter

107.194.72.182



Route

From the trailhead, it's about 9.5 miles to the summit of Warrior 2, with approximately 3400' of elevation gain. However, since you likely are going to climb an additional peak or two (or three), consider that the distance will be a bit longer (up to perhaps 11 miles in all) and the elevation gain greater. Climbing both Warriors with Warbonnet and Sundance Pinnacle as well will put you in the neighborhood of 4000'.

These numbers mean it's possible to do this as a day trip from the trailhead, but most people are going to prefer to backpack in, especially since there are many other fine day-trip destinations out here, so my suggested route takes that into account. I'm also going to assume you are climbing Warbonnet and am taking that into account as well.

Hike an easy 5.5 miles to Big Sandy Lake; you only gain 600' of elevation during this. Trail signs say it's 6 miles to the lake, but most other sources call it 5.5. I think the 6 miles is the distance to the trail junction at the head of the lake, where one can head north for Jackass Pass and the Cirque or east to Black Joe Lake or to Clear and Deep Lakes (and beyond those lakes on an unmaintained route to Temple Lake and Temple Pass). This junction was unsigned in July 2014, but it was impossible to miss.

I recommend camping near Big Sandy Lake, but you can find some more sites as you climb from the lake to North Lake. The trail steepens considerably after the junction, though, so why not spare yourself hauling a heavy pack up it unless you plan to head over the pass?

Kelsey says to leave the trail after North Lake and scramble up the talus to the notch just south of Warbonnet, but there is a faster and easier way, and it also puts you in position to climb Sundance Pinnacle. Having done both approaches, I prefer the alternative one I am describing, for it has less boulder-hopping and avoids the rough, winding trail in the vicinity of North Lake.

From the junction, hike north toward Jackass Pass. Before you reach North Lake, the trail crosses the stream draining it. Just before the crossing, which is between half a mile and a mile from the junction, leave the trail and clamber your way up to the saddle on the south side of Sundance Pinnacle. (It's Class 4 up the pinnacle on either its west or south side, though technical routes exist as well.) You're at about 10,600' now, around 900' higher than Big Sandy Lake.

Whether you climb Sundance or not, make an easy traverse along its west side and reach the notch between Sundance and Warbonnet. Climb the 1600' up Warbonnet's south ridge to its summit. This does not have to be harder than Class 3, and it is not exposed.

Kelsey says it is Class 2 from Warbonnet to Warrior 1, but I found it to be harder than that because of an intervening ridge and subpeak on Warbonnet. (This subpeak is well worth summiting for the very airy perch and the great views.) Maybe there is a Class 2 route over that ridge and I just didn't see it, but my way over it was Class 3 with a touch of Class 4. You could definitely Class 2 it by dropping way down into the basin south of the peak, but that would add significant extra distance and elevation gain.

Past the ridge, it really is just Class 2 to the top. The summit has a very remote feeling.

Now descend an easy (and short) grade to the saddle between the two Warriors. Then scramble up to the top (Class 3, no exposure).

Just Climbing the Warriors?

From the saddle on the south side of Sundance Pinnacle, cross-country it west across the basin and then ascend the steep south slopes of Warrior 1. There was a lot of snow here in mid-July of 2014, so I strongly recommend having an ice axe. I did not have (or need) crampons, but pack them if you want that extra assurance.

Technical Routes

For specific details about the routes, see Kelsey's guide. This book is available as a digital download from Google Books and from Amazon and likely some other sources as well, so it's a great idea to have it on your phone and take it with you when going out. It beats the hell out of carrying the book, copying pages, etc.
  • Northeast Face-- 5.5-- Kelsey says that this face is "tall but broken" and that there is "much scrambling"; you have to access this route from the Cirque.
  • North Face-Northwest Ridge-- 5.8-- Kelsey calls this a "lost" route and says it begins from between Warrior 2 and Wisconsin Couloir.