Classic day in the Cirque

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Trip Report
Wyoming, United States, --
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Aug 28, 2003
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Created On: Sep 2, 2003
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My wife and I took a week in the Cirque to celebrate our anniversary. The weather cooperated for about half of the trip. After an oh-so-close attempt on Warbonnet's Northeast Face with sunshine, we hoped to get another clear afternoon for the Northeast Face of Pingora. The strenuous '5.7' climbing on Warbonnet geared us up for a difficult day on steep rock. We got up at 4AM on Wednesday to clear skies, ate, packed and hiked around to the start of the climb. We still had about 20 minutes to wait for good light to climb, and in that time clouds began to build enough for us to wait another hour before starting. In that hour it only got worse, and on our walk back to camp it started to rain outright. The rest of that day we spent congratulating ourselves on NOT climbing and staring at the shadows of mountains peering out from behind the curtain of mist. The next day we got up at 5AM, hit the trail and arrived at the base of the beautiful curving dihedral with perfect light. The initial traverse is longer than it looks, and the 5.8 move is the easiest of that grade on the route. In fact, I would call the traverse 5.7 by the standards set on the upper pitches. The 5.7 roof on the third pitch was incredible. The angle of the rock stays in your face for such a moderate route, but the protection is great and the belay always works out. Every pitch that we climbed stretched our 60m ropes but one. The upper pitches got somewhat shorter, but were still long and glorious. After the "easy chimney" at the top, we opted to take the East Ledges to the summit instead of the last 5.6 pitch to the northeast summit rappel. We tagged the summit at about 4:30, a nine hour climb! The weather stayed perfect . . . until the next day. The rain came in during the afternoon, turned to snow overnight and continued through the next day. We left, seeking solace at the Big Sandy Lodge cabins near the trailhead. A wood fire and food prepared by someone else made it feel more like vacation. We only made one summit in six days, but the climb was worth the effort and delay. This climb is truly classic. One more note: After much climbing in the Wind River range, cursing the name Joe Kelsey (guidebook writer), I was delighted to find that the topo, written description and pictures were all thorough and accurate. Routefinding was easy, and that is a rare case in this remote range. I will add pictures when they get back from the developer.


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