BD grassroots athlete Pete Tapley makes alpine first ascent in Wyoming's Wind River Range
Black Diamond grassroots athlete Pete Tapley is always on the prowl for new routes—especially ones that involve tricky mixed climbing in the alpine. Below is the video he put together of a cool first ascent he made in the wilderness of Wyoming's Wind River Range.
“La mirada de la gitana?” our Basque friend Martin is fond of saying as we shoulder our packs and turn to walk home from the crags at the end of the day—“the look of the gypsy” he translates with a smile and a nod as he quickly scans for booty left behind by others less-observant.
The phrase is catchy and fits well to our new route on the north face of Mount Helen, deep in the Wind River Range of Wyoming: the face hides in the shadows of the upper-most reaches of Titcomb Basin, a common destination and thoroughfare for those bound toward the highpoint of Gannet Peak. It’s easily overlooked as most put their heads down to grind out the vertical of Dinwoody Pass. It’s also tucked behind the striking and awe-inspiring Tower 1, which dominates the scene as you pass below. In short, you would likely need to be looking for the face in order to take note. And if you are looking for such a face, and better yet, looking for a fine melt/freeze mixed line on high-quality stone, in a true wilderness setting, well then, what you would find here is as good as gold.
I’ve dreamt of climbing a new, direct line on this aspect over the last decade, since Frank Tazzara and I bailed off the Tower Ridge above. We’d made smokin’ progress through extreme cold and high winds, only to be blown off the route (yes, literally blown off) less than 300 feet from the top. We bombed down a plumb line below the summit, rapping over one amazing pitch after another of perfect thin-ice runnels. Thrilled with our success in surviving this epic, we laid plans to fire straight back up our bail line the next day. Later that night, our tent exploded in the wind…
This video, La Mirada del la Gitana, tells the story of my successful return with Craig Pope, 12 years later.