Should be confident crack climber and gym 5.8-5.9 climber. With a minimal rack, needs to be comfortable with exposure and placing gear to protect followers on traverses.
Followers should have basic crack technique. Should be comfortable 5.7-5.8 climbers with multi pitch experience. Needs to be confident enough to get through exposed areas and problem solving without assistance. Voice commands between climbers can be a problem.
Take the route from Rawlins, North on 287, South (left) onto 28, Right onto Lander Cutoff Rd (long dirt road), set GPS before you loose service and it will take you all the way to the trail head. ~1 hr 27 min (or 45 min if you drive fast) on dirt road, make sure you fuel up at a gas station before heading in. Taking a wrong turn (which we did on the way out) can result in meandering very long distances on un-marked roads.
Park at Big Sandy Trailhead. Take main trail next to pit toilets heading towards the river (north/northeast). Overnight dispersed bivy/tent camping possible in the valley below Pingora. Car to car possible if you want a very long day. Minimal trail signs on the way in. Navigate based land features: Big Sandy Lake, North Lake, War Bonnet Peak, Arrow Lake, Pingora Peak.
Follow signs to Big Sandy Lake. If doing an alpine start Big Sandy Lake will be the long/wide lake on your right without any trees between you and the shore line. After wrapping around the lake a bit and crossing a cobble stream bed, you will come to a wye with a sign post that is missing the sign (see picture), Go left. The trail will switch back up the hill and plateau once you can see up the valley. You will cross a river at the bottom of the valley and work your way along the right side of the valley up to the right side of North Lake. Go to the end of the North Lake and go left, crossing the grassy marsh area. Follow the trail up the slope in front of you for the start of Jackass Pass. War Bonnet Peak will be the massive looming peak on your left after the switch backs. As soon at the trail plateaus War Bonnet is on your left, Arrow Head lake will be in front of you with Pingora just visible up the valley. There will be an unmarked wye in the trail with an obvious continuation to the right and a less traveled trail to the left. See options below.
Option 1 (Suggested): Left at wye at Arrow Head Lake. Boulder hopping, minimal elevation gain. difficult to locate trail. quicker than going right. Aim for hitting the shoreline at the end of the lake. There will be a wye at the end of the lake, recommend going right along the lake to avoid crawling up a steep loose dirt/rock trail.
Option 2: Right at the wye at Arrow Head Lake. takes you over Jackass Pass, excessive elevation gain. easier hiking. follow cairns as the trails disappears. Stay high to avoid getting cliffed out. If near the end of the lake and you get cliffed out there is a 5th class escape gully off the corner of the lake with access to most of the ledges. We did not stay high enough and needed to drop into the escape gully. Not sure what the rest of the pass looks like.
Both options take you to or past the end of Arrow Head lake. Looking at google earth you can follow the trail up the valley to just below Pingora or cut up and over the ridge on your left below War Bonnet Peak to drop down into the bowl below the Cirque of the Towers. Aim for the valley on the left side of Pingora, making sure you are to the left of the ridge line below Pingora. With Pingora on your right proceed up the valley. You can stay low along the stream, or follow the switch backs along the base of the headwalls.
At the base of the wall looking up, from right to left: Pingora, Tiger, saddle, smooth ramp to the top, then a bunch of saw teeth.
Wolfs Head starts below the saddle with Tiger peak just on your right. Walking along the base of the wall, when you are forced to start descending again and the base of the wall starts to look like a slaby ramp stop. Start of the route is the dihedrals and blocky ramps that go up and left above the slab ramp.
Note: We simo climbed the first half until you get into the saw teeth where pitching it out is more necessary. After the long horizontal crack traverse with on the left face to a vertical crack and flat belay ledge you can simo climb the rest of the route to the summit that is visible around the corner.
Light rack if you want to go fast, doubles 0.5-#2 with #3, focus on hand size, full nut set, and a ten (10) or more 60 cm alpine draws. Long run outs will elongate simo climbs with lighter racks. 70 m rope preferred for running out pitches. 60 m doable. No hand tape required.
No fixed anchors that I can recall, multiple rap stations available at the end of the route (or you can just down climb, ~5.5/5.6?).
All belay stations were great. Leaders choice on when and where to setup.
Route weaves between the towers, a lot of potential rope drag issues. Recommend shorter simo rope length till you get to the cat walk. Bring all climbers up to the scree ledge before doing the short pitch to the cat walk. Recommend simo climbing till you get through the crux boulder problem, and before you head up to the slot/chimney, pitch out everything from here till you get past hand traverse at tower four and can see the summit block. Simo the rest to the summit.
Pitch Descriptions (climbers perspective):
Hard to define pitches for simo climbing. List of major sections/obstacles:
-Starts below the saddle with Tiger on your right.
-Work your way along the dihedrals and blocky ramps that go up and left
-Wide scree field ledge, walk right to get near the blocky fisher that splits the face.
-Climbers choice, pick route to get to the top of the saddle. The back side of Tiger will be just to the right.
-Go left at the top of the saddle along the infamous catwalk.
-Continue up the ramp staying high on the crest, good hand cracks with smearing in several spots.
-As crest plateaus and you approach the saw teeth. Drop down and left along obvious line to descend into a gully to a rounded exposed "sandwiched" boulder. Note: stay on the diagonal cracks, don't drop straight down.
-After crossing the sandwiched boulder, go up the obvious gully to the left of the sandwich boulder.
-Go through the slot chimney, (high or low depending on your sizes, recommend taking backpacks off prior). Setup belay at the end of the slot chimney just to the left.
-Delicate traverse with thin hands past the piton, then straight up to an obvious ledge, belay here.
-Hand traverse along crack to the right up and work your way over the ridge and drop into a cut out area, belay here.
-Continue through the end of the cutout and turn right to the hand traverse. Note: you can walk the hand traverse with minimal pro, or use the small features with your hands in the crack. After the main crack drop down a little use the black tipped features for feet. or go high if you walked it.
-Go up the corner/gully at the end of the cracks to an obvious flat block, belay here.
-Drop down off the far end of the flat block. Turn left and work your way up and right (if you are facing the wall).
-Go up chimney with a block at the top just below the summit.
-Scramble up the slabs/ramp to the summit.
Descent (looking downhill perspective):
Overall goal is to drop off the summit and go left, staying high on the far side of the ridge line from Cirque Lake (visible lake that was on your left the entire climb). You can down climb the entire thing, the obvious rappels will be more comfortable than soloing.
-Scramble down the far side of the summit (or rappel) to the next flat area.
-Rappel 3 or 4 times at each of the major ledges. Need to traverse a bit at each ledge to find the next station.
-Rule of thumb is if you can walk it then check it out. Overall keep working your way down and left till you get to the scree field and trails.
-If you stay high walking along the ridge line you will get to your last repel station that will drop you down to the scree saddle above the lake. If you drop too low from the ridge line you either get cliffed out and or have to walk back up to the top of the saddle.
-Loose dirt/scree switch backs and large boulders down to the lake
-Go left along the shore line.
-Walk trails/hop boulders down the valley along the creek.
-Cross the Cirque of the Towers valley and work your way back out to the trail head.
-Last note would be if you cut across the valley and stay high and right, aim for the shallow valley with boulders, you will hit a trail that will take you down a steep dirt path to the right corner of Arrow Head Lake (aka approach wye for option 1 at the end of the lake). Go right around the lake, staying at the same elevation till you hit the main trail.