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Cirque of the TowersWY West, USA
Climbs 200 – Rocktype Granite – Altitude 3000m a.s.l – Faces all
The first of the towers to reveal itself after the lengthy approach (25 mile bumpy dirt road and then an 11 mile hike at altitude) is Pingora - the most magnificent and unusual of the towers, although the Shark's Tail gives it a run for its money. When seen in the flesh, there is something strangley alluring about Pingora and few climbers will resist its cliffs, coming as it does like some crazed vision from a climber's deepest cheese-enduced dreams! The towers house a plethora of sensational cliff faces, each holding breathtaking routes at a full spectrum of grades. Even low grades, often under-catered for in the US, are very well served here. The 5.4 (HVD-MS) of Wolf's Head reigns as one of the world's finest routes for example. At the other end of the scale a Dave Birkett would have plenty with which to fill his boots.
Black bears and Grizzly do inhabit the area. For British climbers unaccustomed to bear activity, prior research and knowledge is invaluable. The Wind River range is world famous for its salmon fishing which might give you a bear clue. It is not the fun 'carry on bear' stuff of Yosemite however. Have your wits about you and do not get yourself eaten! The Cirque in season will always have at least a few parties, but it will never be especially busy due to its remoteness (fishermen in the area outnumber climbers 20-1). Queuing and racing to routes is not something often found in the Cirque, there are just too many classics and not enough parties. Normally you will return to your tent and compare your world class route with that of the guys in the next tent - it's that kind of scene.
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