WD, I need a favor

Posted by: skcreidc

WD, I need a favor - 02/27/13 03:19 PM

Sorry Duane, but this general topic needs some help anyway. WD I figure this is more up your alley. I would like to know if you think if I could do Matthes Crest traverse confidently, that that would be a good indicator for the Wolf's Head traverse. In particular for stamina. I've been slapped around so much physically lately that I want to make sure I'm ready. After all, I still have to contend with the weather no matter what.

Posted by: jdeutsch

Re: WD, I need a favor - 02/28/13 04:07 PM

I don't know you or your abilities, but having done both Matthes Crest and Wolf's Head, I can tell you that Wolf's Head is significantly more difficult.

Matthes Crest: A pitch or two of 5.5 to reach the ridge. Then all third and fourth class to the middle of the mountain (most parties simul or solo this section) where parties usually descend. Optional 5.7 pitch to reach the central summit.

Wolf's Head: Three-ish pitches to reach the ridge. These should be easy, but we found them to be lots of 5.6 with poor protection. Perhaps our route finding was poor. The ridge starts with easy pitches, but still definitely fifth class. There are a few harder pitches that go at 5.7 and the route finding is trickier overall because you have to traverse around towers.

Both are great alpine climbs. I don't mean to say you shouldn't do Wolf's Head, just wanted to try to give an accurate comparison with Matthes. Hope that helps.
Posted by: skcreidc

Re: WD, I need a favor - 03/01/13 06:57 PM

jdeutsch, that is exactly what I wanted. I'm 56 now and my feet are good, but my shoulders are a disaster that I am slowly working on. What can I say other than I would really like to do the Wolf's Head and am trying to come up with bench marks to get me there. Since I've done the entire Matthes Crest (when I was in my 20's), I thought that may be a reasonable step in getting there. I have ticked off some very easy multi pitch climbs, but still need to build up my stamina so I've been going over to a bouldering spot a few minutes away to work on various traverses. I need to be patient so I'm shooting for 2 or 3 summers from now in early September. From your description, I'll need a few harder multi pitch experiences under my belt before I head back to the Winds. Sounds more like 3 years. Thanks again.
Posted by: jdeutsch

Re: WD, I need a favor - 03/03/13 11:46 AM

Sounds like you are making a well thought out plan to attempt Wolf's Head. I'm sure you will be fine. Honestly, the day hiking from Big Sandy trailhead to the Cirque with a heavy pack is harder for me than climbing Wolf's Head. Take a full day of rest after the hike in. Or two days. Use that time to scout the approach and even cache some gear at the base to make the climbing day easier. Try to go later in the season when the approach and descent aren't choked with snow (your plan for late August/early September is a good choice).

Give the West Ridge of Conness in Yosemite a try. The first few 5.7 pitches are as hard as anything on Wolf's Head. The rest is a long simulclimb like Matthes, significantly easier than Wolf's Head. Good test of how you will react to a long day of climbing.

Good luck and have fun!
Posted by: skcreidc

Re:West Ridge of Conness - 03/04/13 12:48 PM

Hey thanks, jdeutsch. An excellent suggestion with relatively easy access. The West Ridge is definitely going on my list. My likely partner called me yesterday (unlike me, a hardman from CO) and suggested the Ellingwood Arete in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of CO for sometime this summer. I need to visit anyway smile. I've been over kick your ass pass and stared at Pingora and the other peaks in person 2 summers ago; but just looked. Unfortunately, I think any sustained climbing, 5.6 or otherwise, is just not going to happen for me easily. So Pingora is probably out. I need a spot where I can take a nap in the middle of the route if necessary. There was a shot I saw of Fred Becky snoozing mid route at the age of 92. He finished the multipich climb a bit later, but at his own pace. So I'm thinking there is some hope for me grin. If any other routes come to mind, please feel free to list them. Thanks again'

Posted by: ndsol

Re: WD, I need a favor - 03/04/13 02:30 PM

And for those that want a panorama view from Jackass Pass from late July 2011:

Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: WD, I need a favor - 03/07/13 09:48 PM

Wolfs Head is harder in many ways. There is more exposure. It is a very long climb - we did the original route which adds four pitches at the bottom before you even get on the ridge. Because you weave back and forth there is a lot of rope drag so most of our pitches were short. I think we did 22 pitches total. It was 14 hours total, from base camp. We simulclimbed a lot. The route finding is very tricky. I had the old Bonney's guide description which was by far better than the one in the new Kelsy guidebook. I can e-mail a copy to you. The climb is also more committing - there are few easy bail outs. Also, you have to deal with Wind River weather. We were there a week (climbed several routes on Pingora, and some class 2-3 climbs - Bollinger, Lizard Head. The weather did not become good enough to climb Wolfs Head until the very last day. We did get rained on a bit, but not bad. A little bit of lightning but none close. I do not think it is a matter of being old but one of mental readiness for a long, very exposed climb - very alpine. I had two (medium and large) cams that I would put in a crack and "walk" them along. There is a lot of exposed traversing. Here are a few photos.

From top of Pingora

The easy two pitches to get to the top of the ridge

Towers on top

Summit photo (yes that is RJ Secor)

Posted by: skcreidc

Re: WD, I need a favor - 03/14/13 09:58 AM

Thanks for the info WD. And I would like a copy of the Bonney description; I'll pm you about it. There also seems to be a wealth of information of Mountain Project about the route, including a "map view topo" and a detailed description excluding Tiger Tower (Wolf's Head Description ). I figure you need a week minimum to get your shot at it (my only time in the Winds, it rained on us every day except the last and there were quite a few days where the storms/wind started up by 9am. If I prepare, I'll be fine. I just need to keep putting in the time on a regular basis.

Thanks again,

Posted by: skcreidc

Re: WD, I need a favor - 04/25/13 11:34 AM

Yea, yea, I know. I'm slow on the uptake at times. WD, when did you do the Wolf's head with Secor? After his nasty glissade accident I assume. He looks pretty good there. Good for him!

I guess as an update... Two days top roping at Joshua Tree and sore as hell in my shoulders and forearms. Legs are good and I really enjoyed the face/slab climbs (mainly because I can use my legs to rest on them and be lazy). I had forgotten, but squeeze chimneys are not fun for me; got to work on those.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: WD, I need a favor - 04/26/13 12:47 AM

The climb was shortly before RJ's accident. Typical of RJ, he used old equipment and ratty old approach shoes so he had some troubles on the crux move of the climb. I have a pair of technical climbing shoes that are over sized(you know how real technical shoes are so tight they kill you feet)and I wear a wool sock so that they fit snug but not painful. These are my "alpine" climbing shoes. I carried tennis shoes for the walking up to the climb and the descent.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: WD, I need a favor - 05/18/13 08:36 PM

Wow, those photos make me want to grab onto something and hold tight.... eek
Posted by: anicinabe

Re: WD, I need a favor - 08/09/13 03:48 PM

Can this be free climbed?
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: WD, I need a favor - 08/17/13 10:39 PM

"Free climb" refers to NOT using the protection to actually pull up on (aid climbing). The route is 5.6 or 5.7 - pretty easy as far as "free climbs" go. In fact most of the climb is only about 5.0 or less - but it is so intermixed with the harder climbing that most people just keep roped up. If you mean "free solo" - just scrambling up with no gear- yes that has been done. In climbing rating, the exposure (air under you - the gulp factor) makes no difference - it is the technical difficulty of the hardest move on the climb. Does not matter if that move is 2 feet off the ground or 1,000 feet. The climb is one of the "50 classic north American climbs".