Trip Report
Wind Rivers. 1969
Thursday October 12, 2006 8:05pm
STICKING NEEDLES IN THE HAYSTACK


Mountains…
Grey and angular mountains with white clouds to the west. Puffy clouds and five
sparkling lakes. Pure sun jewelling the lakes of the southern Wind Rivers and shining the
granite walls of Haystack Mountain a rich brown. Golden sun on green-textured
meadows. Yellow rays filtering through the pines. The North Tower of Haystack on a
golden day. Bright sun on the Tower – on Geoff Heath – on me. Geoff and I are living
on the side of the Tower. We have a vertical home for today, tomorrow and early
morning of the next day. Then we’ll reach the top of the mountain and as always there
will be no place to go but down.


North Tower of Haystack. 13 pitches, the middle 4 containing a mix of free and aid. Potential for a difficult all free route.


But that’s later. Now, Heath does a slow dance across a polished slab. He’s not
being lazy, but, rather…careful. The long-gone glacier was careful also, to grind off any
rugosities on the slab. Even so, lug-rubber-soled Royal Robbins climbing shoes
and practiced climbing skill allow Geoff to tip-toe safely past three expansion bolts that
I had placed on an earlier solo reconnaissance, and soon he’s belayed to a horn of rock in
the shade of the big overhanging arch that bars entry to the upper Tower. Like a light-footed wolf I scurry across the slab and up to join Geoff at his shady nest: I am climbing well and enjoying it.

Then it’s tap, tap, tap – over the arch and back again into the mid-day sun. The
arch is comprised of compact shingles, and pitons placed straight up between them only go in an inch. Hanging from better ones above the arch I yell to Geoff that it looks pretty
blank below the crack system leading to the summit, and that I hope it will go. Secretly, I
know that somehow it will.

The good crack above the arch ends at another, smaller one. I reach the sky above this feature with a hook and climb into a corner to belay. I doze in my perch. The sound of Geoff removing pitons as he follows the pitch rings distantly in my ears.:
ping, ping, ping…
ping, ping, ping…
Ping, Ping, Ping…
PING, PING PONG!!!
I awaken startled to see Geoff jumaring the last few feet to my belay. Past where
I used the skyhook; he’s jangling with iron. Now is the time to ask permission. I’ve
studied the route for days. I have soloed the first four pitches. I think I’ve spotted a
way into the summit crack that will use few bolts. But it needs to be done right. I
simply can’t leave it up to someone else.
“Would you mind too much if I lead the rest of the way?” I ask Geoff.
The slightest of pauses…
“No man, go for it.” Is his quick reply.
So my dreams can be realized. On this climb, at least.

We switch places at the belay and I lead out above Geoff. At the top of the corner
the crack peters out, so I finesse a beat-on into a little dimple, and hang from it. I look
down to see Geoff at the bottom of the corner, belaying and gazing west at the falling sun. Shadows are being cast eastward by Warbonnet Peak and the shark’s teeth of the Cirque of the Towers. The valleys are cooling off, but it’s still hot up here on the wall.

A tiny nut is the only thing I can find to hold my weight above the beat-on, and it just barely allows me to reach into a short, curving corner with a bottomed-out crack. I
follow this weakness on tied-off angles for a while. Then I reach the first truly blank
section. A bolt or two seems necessary to reach some chickenheads that should allow
face climbing. But not so fast. I know from scoping with a powerful telescope that five
feet to the right and around a small corner is either an incipient crack or a seam. Leaning
waaaaay out right – it’s a seam – there is no crack. Gently smashing a small beat-on into the seam works. After a couple of knifeblade placements it’s exhilarating free
climbing on the chickenheads to a wide, diagonalling crack and a hanging belay.

Geoff cleans the pitch quickly and we get fifty feet higher before we pull out the
hammocks for a bivouac. More accurately, we pull out one hammock and two belay seats. Geoff has forgotten his hammock. Since he had so generously allowed me to lead, I offer Geoff the hammock and I make do with the two belay seats, using one for my feet, sitting in the other and fashioning a couple of webbing slings around my chest to support my upper body and head. Soon we’re eating greasy salami and cheese while the stars begin appearing one-by-one…and then almost suddenly the night sky is filled with
billions of points of light. I spend most of the night adjusting the belay seats in a futile
attempt to get comfortable. However, the night is not too cold - I watch my guardian Orion march across the sky - and we both get plenty of rest.

Chill morning free climbing. We’re a welcome easy pitch above our bivouac site.
Now we must follow a question mark for one hundred feet. In my mind it works to
connect a few miscellaneous flakes and fissures on an otherwise blank wall. But face-to-
face with this obstacle, I become uncertain. Maybe I’ve let my imagination lead me
astray. From here it looks like a bolt ladder is a certainty…

Geoff seems slightly puzzled. He probably wonders what in hell I’m doing.
Well, I’m lassoing a flake from a crack tack at the top of a short line of crack tacks…
pulling and climbing on the rope and the flake is flexing and threatening to break off…
holding on to the flake with one hand and trying to place a pin with the other…I
get the pin in but I know it won’t hold…use it anyway…it holds… several pins
higher…there’s a crack going horizontally left… two skyhooks to reach it…it’s only
a rurp crack…several rurp placements lead to a loose flake that won’t take pitons but it
swallows a couple of creaky nuts…more sky hooks…and now a bolt…A BOLT!!!
Security at last…I can finally relax. Twenty feet higher I place two more bolts and make
a belay. At my solid anchors I wipe my forehead with a “PHEW” and holler down to
Geoff that this is really FUN!

As I haul one of our packs, Geoff begins jumaring with the other. He has trouble
in the spots where the route zig-zags between pitons, but he manages to collect all the
pins and soon arrives at the belay. It will be interesting to see how future parties fare in finding the hidden pin placements on this crucial section. We are now above the blank area and the next lead should bring us to the summit crack. The climbing becomes very beautiful on flawless fine-grained granite, though not much easier. I’m feeling a bit like an alpine animal. I want to test myself in the summit crack and do it all free.

It’s afternoon of the second day. The weather remains excellent. I’m on the first
pitch of the summit crack. Geoff is belaying from a nice ledge where we’ve just eaten a lunch of tuna and gorp washed down with a swig or two of our meager water supply. Our conversation, quiet and almost reverent on this mountain steeple, is tinged with optimism about our progress. We’ve stowed the jumars away. Now we are free climbers.

As I said, I’m feeling focused and aggressive now that we’re virtually sure to succeed. I push myself hard, and the first pitch of the summit crack goes free. Geoff does well following the first part of the lead, but near the end there’s a spot he can’t free climb. Frustrated, he climbs the rope hand-over-hand past the hard part. I watch and don’t think much of it at the time, but it soon becomes apparent that it is bothering Geoff no small amount.

Geoff asks to lead the next pitch as soon as he arrives at the belay. It becomes
clear to me now that Geoff has a competitive drive that is threatened by his failure to
completely free the last pitch, and he wants to atone for what he considers a poor
performance. It also occurs to me that maybe he thinks I’m secretly gloating, and he’s
slightly humiliated: this is our first climb together and he wants to do an equal share.
What he doesn’t know is that I realize this is his first really big climb and that he’s
already proven himself beyond my expectations. But what can I say? I let him have the
lead.

It’s a mistake. Things only get worse for Geoff. In his present state of mind he
can’t begin to concentrate on the climbing. He goes immediately on to aid, but twenty
feet up, the crack suddenly splits and he’s faced with a crackless wall of twenty feet
that needs to be free climbed on small, but good holds to reach the continuation of the
crack system. It’s a stretch that Geoff would normally walk across. Now, though, he
backs off the lead and his frustration is obvious.

As I lead the pitch in the glow of the setting sun I’m aware that my climbing may exacerbate the situation for Geoff. I’m climbing really well, feeling tuned in to the rock and infused with the energy of this beautiful place. I free climb the twenty feet of aid to the blank wall, and then the blank wall itself, very quickly. Established in the summit crack again, I encounter the most difficult free climbing on the route. I know that in his demoralized state Geoff won’t be able to free the overhanging hand and fist crack and his ego will suffer even more, but I can’t bring myself to use aid. I have my own needs. I’m
climbing in my own myth now, and to dishonor that myth by aiding when it’s not
necessary would offend my values more than Geoff is hurting. I push myself right to my free-climbing limits when aid would have been easy and just as fast.

We spend the night under another blanket of stars sitting side-by-side on a little
ledge several hundred feet below the summit. We’re low on water, dehydrated and not
too comfortable in the physical sense. But as the night wears on and Geoff and I shift our
backs and shoulders against each other trying to find some position to relieve the ache in
our bones and muscles, we start talking. Geoff confesses his competitive feelings and frustrations. I reveal my admiration for how well he’s doing on his first big climb. Most climbers require a long apprenticeship before they become comfortable and as efficient as Geoff already has demonstrated himself to be. I tell him I think his experience as an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School is probably responsible for his ability to adapt so quickly. Guiding students all summer through these very same mountains, teaching low impact camping skills and self-reliance, the whole time carrying a big pack has made Geoff so fit I could barely keep up as he loped like a wolf up the trail on the eight-mile approach to Haystack. I admire also his deep knowledge of the trees, flowers and wildlife of the Wind River Range, wishing I could discipline myself to a more organized study of those things that I love dearly, too.

Gradually, the tension that had developed between us dissipates completely. As the last iota of heat leaves the stone, and the transfer of warmth reverses directions so that now the mountain is sucking the heat from our bodies, our egos finally take a rest and allow us to simply deal with the self-inflicted chore of making it through the mountain night.

Morning is a creaky and cold affair, with little food and the last sips from our water bottles. We stand and stretch our arms above our heads and bend from side-to-side in an attempt to impart some flexibility into our joints so we can deal with the remainder of the climb. Still, the narrow chimney above the bivouac extracts a lot more effort than I think it should, and in my groggy and tired condition I’m not paying as much attention as I should be. Fifty feet above Geoff I thankfully grab a basketball-size chockstone and without testing it, start to pull myself up and onto it, thankful for the momentary respite from pure chimney groveling. But as I move up to where the block is at waist-level, I’m pulling out on the chockstone, and suddenly it dislodges from the crack. Shocked wide awake by adrenaline I manage desperately to claw my way into a tenuous position on the edge of the crack as the boulder grazes my hip and plunges toward Geoff. “ROCK, ROCK” I scream. Geoff looks up and I see the stone’s trajectory will score a direct hit if he doesn’t react in one second or less. Geoff’s expression shows very little fear or horror. Instead, I watch his vision lock on the falling rock and in what seems like slow motion, he casually leans to one side and the missile wizzes past his head. Just like that, the crises has come and gone – catastrophe has been averted.

I finish the lead shaking with the knowledge that my carelessness has almost killed my friend. When Geoff arrives at the belay he brushes off my profuse apologies, and accepts my request that he take over the lead to the summit. Grabbing the hardware sling as I pass it to him and throwing it over his shoulder, Geoff climbs past me in a flurry of arms and legs and rapidly stems up the last chimney, disappearing from view as the rock leans back and he nears the top. The rope moves faster and faster through my hands until I can’t feed it out fast enough and I can tell Geoff is above the technical climbing. Then it stops, and after a minute a distant “Off belay” floats out across the void and the meadows and forests far below, the distant reaches of which are just emerging from the shadow of Haystack into the bright rays of another brilliant sun. “Come on up, Jeff, we’re on top!” Heath yells.

Half an hour later I plunk myself down next to Geoff amid a pile of gear and packs at the apex of the mountain. The whole range to the north, east and west is a white-capped stormy sea of peaks. We talk quietly for a while, soaking in the warmth of the sun. The satisfaction I feel is doubled by Geoff’s mellow tone and contented smile. We are out of food and water, though, so after a few minutes we pack up our gear and head toward the descent route down the north side, which will involve following a unique grassy ramp and a lot of walking down gradually lower and lower angle slabs composed of the same impeccable golden granite we’ve been climbing. As soon as we hit the stream in the valley, we plop down on the bank on our bellies, and begin greedily lapping like canines at the cold water. After we’ve quenched our thirst, Geoff promises to teach me how to tickle trout from under the banks of the stream on our way to base camp, which is still a half-mile to the west in a lower meadow

Life couldn’t be better for the two young wolves moving silently through tall marsh-grass alongside the meandering stream, eyes alert for silver flashes in the crystal-clear water. They’ll have fresh trout for brunch.


  Trip Report Views: 1,874
Jello
About the Author
Jello is a social climber from No Ut.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 12, 2006 - 08:19pm PT
Looks like your writing is coming along just fine pard'.

This Geoff Heath isn't the guy you thought I ran into in North Ogden was it?
goatboy smellz

climber
लघिमा
  Oct 12, 2006 - 08:35pm PT
Stream of consciousness...gracias Jello!

Future tense; Never left the ground without tricams...

Eric
WBraun

climber
  Oct 12, 2006 - 08:36pm PT
The story reads in such a way that I think I'm there also doing it too. I wish I could write like that.
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Arkansas, I suppose
  Oct 12, 2006 - 08:40pm PT
Sweet.
dougs510

Social climber
down south
  Oct 13, 2006 - 12:38am PT
Awesome Bro. Thank you for capturing the gift of life in words and sharing.

Doug
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Oct 13, 2006 - 01:02am PT
thanks for the wonderful story.... it captures the contradiction of confinement and expanse that I sometimes feel on a climb.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Oct 13, 2006 - 01:34am PT

This is why I lurk at Supertopo -- thanks. Trim, clean, muscular writing, now archived beyond your lifetime and mine. More please.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Oct 13, 2006 - 01:35am PT
You transported us into the past, dropped the needle in the record groove and it all came back alive!
Mimi

climber
  Oct 13, 2006 - 02:00am PT
The Winds are a favorite place. Thanks for sending me back there with such a good story. Looking forward to your book.

And it's really cool that you've joined this forum. Please post more about your time in the mountains and many adventures.
TYeary

Social climber
State of decay
  Oct 13, 2006 - 06:47am PT
No worries about the writing, Jeff. Beautiful.
Is this coming from the book? I can't wait to read more. Thanks,Tony
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
  Oct 13, 2006 - 07:09am PT
Great writing. I didn't realise you could get PAs in the States back in '69.
Crag

Trad climber
Pennsyltuckey
  Oct 13, 2006 - 08:29am PT
Thank you for such a great read.
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
  Oct 13, 2006 - 08:52am PT
Jeff,
thanks for the story. I vaguely remember the route description from the brown WR guide. Something like, "take all the tic tacs and crackerjacks you can think of" (?). As a young climber in the 70's from Utah the Winds was what I fantasized about, mountains, great rock and even a Glacier (a rarity for Utah boys).
Gary
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Oct 13, 2006 - 10:06am PT
Welcome Jello indeed. You had my attention completely, I was in the Winds. Thanks.
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  Oct 13, 2006 - 10:56am PT
Nice.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2006 - 03:18pm PT
Good catch, Patrick - I'm sure they were RR's, not PA's that we wore. Braindead! That's why I decided to post here. It's already working.

Thanks to everyone else for your supportive comments, as well. I do want you to know that if something in the story is not working for you, I'd like to hear about that, as well.

CALL FOR PHOTOS;

We didn't carry a camera on Haystack. If anyone has a photo or photos of the north end from the vicinity of the lake (Deep Lake?), where the Tower appears like a mini-Dru, I'd sure like to see them for possible use in the book.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 13, 2006 - 03:31pm PT
Having just had a fun talk with Jeff about how we're both getting senile I'd like to remind him AND the reader that he mentioned the book in the other thread, Welcome To Jeff Lowe.

Jeff, you ought to post there a list of the routes/faces where you could use a few photos.

Kartch

climber
belgrade, mt
  Oct 13, 2006 - 03:41pm PT
Thanks for posting something worthwile on this forum. It seems like there hasn't been much worth reading in the past few days. BTW Jeff I enjoyed your slidshow a few years back in Cedar City, UT. Cheers.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
  Oct 13, 2006 - 03:44pm PT
Braindead! That's why I decided to post here. It's already working. LOL Jeff.


BTW, I wasn't trying to catch you out, I think your writing is some of the best on this forum and elsewhere.


Also, wasn't it you that said: "A Scottish blizzard will (can) kill you faster than any else" or something to that effect?


I hope to get to Scotland this winter for some ice climbing, probably Ben Nevis and Glen Coe, and I hope I don't find out first hand what a Scottish blizzard can do (I know what a Scottish lass can do though...) ;-)
feelio Babar

Trad climber
Sneaking up behind you...
  Oct 13, 2006 - 04:02pm PT
Sweet! IW ant to repeat that route! Got rained off it too summers ago! Keep 'em coming Jello!
golsen

Social climber
kennewick, wa
  Oct 13, 2006 - 04:12pm PT
Jeff, not the pic you asked for, but just to show some Wind River Beauty.



BTW, we should flog you for not having a camera. :)

In a way it almost seems fitting for the Winds, no pics, no topos, but full of adventure.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 13, 2006 - 04:57pm PT
Patrick, I thought it was, "a Scottish lass can blow you faster than anyone else".



Kartch, so you were there too huh.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2006 - 08:56pm PT
Patrick, I WANT to be caught out on anything of importance. Better here on Supertopo than permanently printed on paper!

Thanks!

Oh, by the way, I did say something like that about Scottish storms. They can be fast and furious!
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2006 - 09:02pm PT
Cheers, Kartch!

Babar, let me know if you repeat the climb. I haven't heard of a second ascent, but who knows?

Thanks for posting the great pic of Hooker, Golsen. The Winds are full of great chunks of stone, aren't they?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Oct 13, 2006 - 09:41pm PT

I recall you get a glimpse of Haystack on the way in to the Cirque of Towers? I got nothin' on it.
Yes, Dru like; Billy Westbay mentioned something about climbing on Haystack. He's kinda hard to reach right now, darnit, damn...

Here's some odd's 'n ends from the Winds:

Pingora:


Pingora Corner System:


Looking at War Bonnet, from Pingora Summit:


Another thing from Pingora Summit:


Wolf's Head:
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2006 - 11:12pm PT
Nice racin' pants there, Tarbuster.and jaunry cap to match... good pics, too. Steepin' up some of the essential Wind River tea. Thanks, Tar. I'll take a big long pull on that concoction, and dream of times wild and free.
G_Gnome

Trad climber
Cali
  Oct 13, 2006 - 11:36pm PT
Thanks Jeff, that got it just right.

Thanks Roy, only been there once but it was MAGICAL. But how come you always climbed with the cute ones, while I only got Waugh?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Oct 13, 2006 - 11:48pm PT
G Gnome,
Waugh's not cu-ute?
Sorry 'bout that 'un.
Kain't say I blame yah,

Here's 'dem naughty gals, pickin' thru tha 'spores fer the hike out:

I just popped sum reds teh melow out the shrooms, sandwiched a nice pace 'twixt a cuple them lasses on the trail
And rode the clean & true vibe all the way back while the hevun's incessantly drizzled on us.

hahahahaha!
'Git A Long That Trail Little Dowgies,
Yip Yipeee...
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Oct 14, 2006 - 10:23am PT
Jeff –
Nice story. I liked the passage where you describe “climbing in my own myth”. It reminded me of the 19th century gentleman’s code of honor. If a gentleman was insulted by another gentleman, it was expected that the person insulted would risk his own life and challenge the offender to a duel, rather than suffer the affront to his honor. Deep in the wilderness, high on a big wall and miles from any audience, a personal sense of honor and rectitude causes you to free climb a pitch at additional personal risk, rather than take the easier option and aiding it. Great illustration of the quixotic nature of our pastime and that the best climbers are the ones most smitten by the romance of climbing.
Rick
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
  Oct 14, 2006 - 12:14pm PT
Piton Ron, LOL
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 14, 2006 - 01:33pm PT
Thanks, Rick, I appreciate your comments.
labrat

Trad climber
Auburn, CA
  Oct 14, 2006 - 05:27pm PT
Thanks for the story. Looking forward to reading more.
no_one

Social climber
Utah
  Oct 14, 2006 - 08:33pm PT
Great stuff Jeff!! I love the winds!

Finaly, a super topo post about climbing! That's what I'm talkin about!
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 15, 2006 - 11:46am PT
Steve, Steve, Steve,
apparently you failed to read the Welcome thread or you would never say something like," I love the winds" around Jeff,...


Hey! Weren't you just there?
no_one

Social climber
Utah
  Oct 15, 2006 - 12:30pm PT
Good mourning Ron!
Yeah, I was there in August. Just did a couple of the tourist lines though. Wolfs head and Pingora. Wolf head is as real as 5.7 gets. Great climbing!


Ezra

Social climber
WA, NC, Idaho Falls
  Oct 15, 2006 - 05:27pm PT
Fantastic trip report and following pictures. I have to get there someday!!!
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 15, 2006 - 06:10pm PT
Steve-

I can't see your photos. Any idea why?

Also, I've attempted to paste a photo of the route into my original post. If it works, it's thanks to clear instructions from Anders.

-Jeff
no_one

Social climber
Utah
  Oct 15, 2006 - 10:39pm PT
He replied to a post of mine with the same instructions. Not to hard with instructions that clear! Thanks again! MH
Zander

climber
  Oct 19, 2006 - 11:39pm PT
Great Trip report Jeff,
I like how the picture showed up after a while.
Zander
eeyonkee

Trad climber
Golden, CO
  Oct 23, 2006 - 02:08pm PT
Thanks for the story Jeff. When I first started climbing, my older brother went on a trip to the Wind Rivers circa 1970. They looked like fairy tale mountains. Ever since, I've always wanted to go, but never managed. Maybe next year.

By the way, Jeff. That picture of you on some climbing rag cover doing Road Warrior is one of my all time favorite climbing pictures. I remember the day I laid eyes on it. I immediately called up my friend Clean Dan and told him that was our destination for the next weekend. That was one of several times, including two with your cousin George, that I did the thing.
handsome B

Gym climber
SL,UT
  Oct 23, 2006 - 02:17pm PT
Great stuff.
The Winds are a magical place.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2006 - 09:32pm PT
I just added the route line to the picture of Haystack in the initial post. Finally starting to figure out how to work these computer gizmos.
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
  Nov 11, 2010 - 09:37pm PT
Thanks! (and Bump!)
dogtown

Trad climber
Cheyenne, Wyoming and Marshall Islands atoll.
  Nov 11, 2010 - 09:48pm PT
Very nice man. I needed a good read today. thanks

DT.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Nov 11, 2010 - 11:51pm PT
Always great to read a Jello story.

Thanks for posting some of your adventures!
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Nov 12, 2010 - 12:10am PT
Where do they dig up this tripe? haha...

-JelloBumpsHisself
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
  Nov 12, 2010 - 12:15am PT
Just doesn't get any better than this.

Unless of course I would of been there in person.

Thanks Jello.
freerider

climber
  Nov 12, 2010 - 02:41am PT
thank you very much
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 12, 2010 - 09:48am PT
I'll see you there in August Freerider. Only new routing for you, young man.
freerider

climber
  Nov 12, 2010 - 10:32am PT
it will be so good!
couchmaster

climber
  Nov 12, 2010 - 03:42pm PT
There's "badass ™", and then there is "Lowe Badass ™ ™". Several Lowes get lumped in there, George...Alex...etc.

This was full on "Badass ™ ™", much like a minor version in the US of the Latok TR Jim Donini posted wherein Michael Kennedy, he and the Lowes all qualify for extreme Lowe Badass's ™ ™ . Thanks for sharing it and bumping it Jeff!
Mtnier

Mountain climber
BayArea
  Nov 12, 2010 - 05:00pm PT
Funny how this thread was dormant since 2006, then suddenly popped active yesterday.

We were there the same year, 1969, Northward around Mt. Victor, East of Pinedale.

Did you note in Tarbuster's photo of the 3 beauties cooking that there was a Lowe Alpine pack on the rock? It was the blue one with the massive lumbar pad. I had the same one for 20 years. Until someone thought that even a 20-year old one looked great and took it.

Last I heard of Jeff Lowe was an article on his solo Eiger Nordwand climb.

The book must have been published by now. What's the name and publisher?

Thanks, Jeff.
charlie.elverson

Trad climber
St. Paul, MN
  Nov 12, 2010 - 05:23pm PT
Great read. The winds are such a beautiful and fun place!
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Arkansas, I suppose
  Nov 12, 2010 - 08:30pm PT
Holy crap thanks for sharing!
guido

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
  Nov 12, 2010 - 11:20pm PT
Wow-another classic from the Archives of Antiquity.

Thanks Jello. Tarman styling, nice outfit dude.
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Author's Reply  Nov 15, 2010 - 01:23pm PT
Since I posted this piece I've recieved information on strong attempts to free-climb the route, lead by Steve Bechtell(sp?) and including Bobby Model before his accident.

On the first ascent, when I was only 18 and Geoff Heath was only a little older, we used aid only on the short fifth pitch over the arch, the first half of the sixth pitch and all of the A4 eigth pitch.
Steve and party found a two-pitch variation out to the left to get around the fifth and sixth (apparently hadn't been redpointed yet at about 13a), and another variation left of the A4 pitch.

Of interest to me were the ratings given for the pitches that had already been free climbed on the first ascent. Two of the four pitches up to the arch were rated 10c. On a reconnaissance before Geoff and I did the complete route, I had rope-soloed those pitches free, placing the few bolts from scattered stances. Geoff also climbed them free during the FA. of the entire route.

Even more interesting is that of the final pitches above the A4 pitch, two were rated 5.10 and the crux pitch (of the FA) was given 11a. Not bad for Robbins' boots and bong-bongs on a remote wall climb in that era! They also corroborated the A3 and A4 rating on the original aid pitches. So on the FA we did 13 pitches, four of which were 5.10, one of which was 11a, two of A3 and one of A4.

I wrote the story not long after the climb. And, no, the go##amn book is not done yet!

-JelloSpray

Wayno

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 13, 2010 - 02:09am PT
Another Wow! Great TR and follow up thread.
steveA

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Nov 14, 2010 - 06:01pm PT
Jello,

I guess it is obvious that you have a great fondness for the Wind Rivers, as I do. I'm not sure I can put my finger on it, but I guess, of all the places I have climbed, the Wind Rivers, holds a special place in my heart.
I'm working on Mr. Donini, trying to get him interested in going in there next August. I have to get back in there one more time before I really start falling apart!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Feb 2, 2011 - 12:20pm PT
Quality writing Jello Bump!!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Feb 2, 2011 - 01:15pm PT

Really. Super high quality.
And I'll see if I can't find one of my slides hiking
in to Titcomb basin that I took of Haystack. What a
beautiful peak. Thanks, Jello!!!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 17, 2011 - 09:50pm PT
Mega winds bump.
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