SNOWY RANGE CLIMBING
It is not the mountains we conquer.
It is ourselves.
( Sir Edmund Hillary )
The climbing (as well as hiking and camping ) season is short in the Snowies: Mid-June to mid-September due primarily to weather conditions. Access to the range is mainly via State Highway 130 out of Laramie, and this road is opened each year BY SNOWPLOW just prior to Memorial Day Weekend. All of the Southeast Faces (see the labeled picture at the top of the next page) and many trails lie above 10,500 feet in altitude. Look at the "Snowies Map" to see the general layout of things. "Schoolhouse", the rock face above Lake Marie, is the first of the faces to melt out completely. Nearly all of its routes are snow free by early May, but most people just can't get here at this time - the entire area is mostly buried under deep snow as is the road. Steep snowfields and bergschrunds subtend the other formations for another few weeks, depending upon meltout. When you do get here, particularly if you are a climber, remember Spontaneous rock fall, a natural hazard at this altitude, is heaviest in the first part of summer, and tends to peak around 9:00 AM. ALSO, severe afternoon storms are frequent and can move in quickly and completely unexpected. Check the weather ahead of time, but no matter what the forecast predicts, be prepared for rain, hail, snow, gale force winds and lots of lightning associated with the storms! Also please note, people die here by lightning strikes each year and such casualties form a part of the historic record. One person who apparently did not believe how severe weather conditions could be up here was the pilot of a United Airlines DC-4 who crashed high on the face just right of Sundial Slab, killing all 63 aboard in 1955. Rescue was impossible and parts of the plane can still be seen strewn down the slopes below the impact site. A monument commemorating the unfortunate victims of this catastrophe was placed at the Miner's Cabin Turnout in the summer of 2001. So if a storm comes up quickly, seek shelter immediately no matter where you are, and DO NOT move around in the scree fields at this time.
Beyond the exquisite beauty of this small alpine oasis, the Southeast Faces provide surprisingly accessible climbing for those intrepid enough to get on them.
Several years ago, a few friends and I began to free climb older climbs and aid lines originally put up by hardmen from the returning 10th Mountain Division (WWII) and associates as documented in A Climber's Guide to the Snowy Range of Wyoming by Jaquot and Hoff (self-published, 1972). Rather than staying on the established routes, we found ourselves moving off onto unexplored territory, exposed aretes and open faces, for more challenge. Soon, efforts to climb the older routes were abandoned and many newer, more adventurous lines were put up. (Photo: Mat Schoeck 'coiling up')
The route topos and descriptions seen on the next pages are similar to those in my article entitled "Diamonds in the Rough; Alpine climbing in southeast Wyoming" found in ROCK & ICE Magazine, Vol. 102, August/September 2000, pages 112 to 117. Most are complete, although some are lacking precise detail at present. Please consult the published information as well until all information can be consolidated here at this site. Thanks.
to the "faces and routes".....
A D D I T I O N A L C O M M E N T S
Use at least a 60 meter pair for ropes when climbing here .... and a "standard rack" will do.
2. These routes don't see much traffic, and there is considerable unconsolidated rock here!! ALWAYS WEAR A HELMUT !!
SNOWY CLIMBING 1
SNOWY CLIMBING 2
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