Wind Rivers Story — Backpack 2005 — Cirque of the Towers

Post by blogger | September 21, 2005      

Wind River Mountains backcountry, Lonesome Lake
Fishing Lonesome Lake under Pingora, click to enlarge.

I can’t stop thinking about hanging out in the alpine of the Wind Rivers, hikin’, fishin’ and just plain diggin’ the unique environment of those mountains. One of the highlights of our trip this past August was heading down Texas Pass to Cirque of the Towers, where I’d spent some days climbing while working for NOLS back in the 1970s. It was a nostalgia trip beyond radical — actually gave me an adrenaline rush. To relax, I whipped out my fishing gear and pulled a few nice sized trout from Lonesome Lake, with the beautiful rock of Pingora soaring above like a silent eruption from deep earth. It was simply breathtaking to be fishing Lonesome 30 years after I’d been there as a young man, just beginning what turned out to be a long and exciting life as an alpinist. And to be there with my son now. They say life is the great adventure. Amen to that!

Later that day, around the campfire, I told Louie an amusing story about the time I was taking the first NOLS instructor certification course (1969?). Paul Petzoldt and some of his instructors had us meet them at Lonesome Lake, where we were supposed to grab some unsuspecting students from a NOLS course there and take them 5th class climbing. I headed straight for Pingora, of course, and lead up a crack system just to the right of the black streaks you can see in the photo. The climbing was fun, Goldline rope, mountain boots and all, but I’d forgotten a couple of minor details. One, don’t guide 5 grades harder than your client can climb, two, if you traverse while guiding such a route, put in tons of protection to keep your client from taking a pendulum fall. Yep, he fell and took a big ripper pendulum, banged his head pretty bad, and I had to lower him off for a couple of pitches, mountain rescue style. So much for my first day ever of guiding! (It went much better for the next 30 years).


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