In a few days I will be traveling to the Wind River Range in Wyoming with Dave Sharratt. Our intention is to climb the massive, 1,800' North face of Mount Hooker, hopefully free. The Winds are remote to put it simply and are highest range in the Wyoming-Idaho-Montana group. It also contains the largest system of glaciers in the American portion of the Rockies. The 63 glaciers are only surpassed in the contiguous by the Cascades in Washington. This mountain range is the southernmost Continental Divide range of the Central Rockies and from the southern end of the Divide to the north end of the range at Union Pass, no road crosses or even penetrates the crest; it is entirely wilderness (both management-designated and defacto). The range is bound by high desert on both the west (Green River Basin) and the east (Wind River Basin).
Aerial photo of the Wind River Range from the north. The large lake in the foreground is Middle Fork Lake. The massive wall in the center of the photo is Mt Hooker. Sept 26, 2006.
According to what I have read from past accounts, this wall on Hooker is large, remote and cold. Several characteristics about it stand out to me as being significant; Firstly, I don’t have to get on a plane and fly overseas, but still get to revel in the greatness of long, wild alpine routes – this one is the biggest wilderness wall in the lower 48, with a success rate of around 60%. Secondly, all the established routes, the few that exist, are hard…real hard, established by some of Americas best climbers. The possibility for new hard free climbs seems to be screaming at us!
The last couple of years I have been going on big trips in Asia to climb, this will be a real treat doing an expedition in the States. It’s pretty much the same routine: Gather a bunch of good backcountry recipes, count out the calories, stock-up, pack-up the kit, get horse dude, walk for a few days and then climb a big, cold alpine route…perfect! Hard to believe I have not been there yet.
A: Red Light District (IV 5.12-, Toula-Lleuben, 1992).
B: Brain Larceny (V 5.12R, Donahue-Harvey 1994).
C: Northern Light ( VI 5.12 A.3, Wadman-Maus-Dunkak, 1998).
D: Third Eye (VI 5.10 A.4, Quinlan-Middendorf, 1993).
E: Boissonneault-Larson (VI 5.10+ A.4, 1997).
F: Sendero Luminoso (VI 5.10 A.4, Quinlan, 1980).
G: Shady Lady (VI 5.11 A.4, Dockery-Bradshaw, 1978)
H: Original Route ( VI 5.9 A.4, Robbins-McCracken-Raymond, 1964).
I: Northwest Passage (VI 5.9 A.3, Hokanson-Spangler, 1998).
J: Free Var aka Jaded Lady (V 5.12, Whitehouse-Richey-Rolofson-Toula-Skinner-Piana-Rowell, 1990).
Useful links for more info.
http://www.americanalpineclub.org/documents/pdf/aaj/1999/215_lower48_aaj1999.pdf#search="mount hooker 1999"