The current snowline is sitting somewhere between 10, 500 ft. and 10, 700 ft., depending on the aspect. The rate of melt has slowed to around one inch per day, and the rivers down low have already started to stabilize – this is a sign that the worst of the snow melt has subsided. However, we are by no means out of the woods; the southern end of the range received about two inches of snow on Thursday, while the Green River Lakes area received three to five inches, all above 11,000 ft. I’m not as concerned about the snow itself, but the low temperatures needed for snow to form. The snow up high is being subjected to a heavy melt-freeze cycle. This means that the snow is consolidating and compacting. For backcountry users, this means travel over snow is becoming easier, and the post-holing that is all too common for transitioning snowpacks is currently becoming less and less of an issue.
Getting to Green River Lakes is a bit of a shot in the dark as of a few days ago. The Forest Service has asked that parties with large trailers to not drive all the way to the campground because of further wash-outs on the road. Despite these warnings, we continue to see trailers and RVs travel back and forth, which further erodes the road and the work that the Forest Service has painstakingly put in to make the road passable. The Forest Service asks that campers and recreationists refrain from camping on the river side of the road.
The Clear Creek Bridge on the Highline Trail has been washed away by the incredible amount of runoff coming out of Clear Creek. Anyone planning a trip out of this area will need to use the trail on the right side of the lake (the trail that leaves the campground). We have also received word that the bridge spanning Clear Creek leading to Slide Lake has washed out and has washed down-stream. Access to Slide Lake is closed for the foreseeable future.
Elkhart Park and Pole Creek Trail has opened a bit more since last week. We’re still receiving reports of parties being turned around by snow before they get to Photographers Point. The most efficient way to access the country of out Elkhart Park still seems to be skis and snowshoes. Most lakes in the Winds below 10,000 ft. have melted off and the fishing reports have been good. We continue to monitor the situation at Island Lake and Titcomb Basin for the most up-to-date conditions. The trail to Sacred Rim is open and completely snow-free.
The Boulder Lake trailhead and campground continue to be closed (open to foot traffic only) due to large flooding.
Big Sandy Opening continues to be the easiest way to access the high country. As of Friday, the trail leading over Jackass Pass is 90% snow-free to the top of the pass. However, coming down the cirque-side of the pass, one hits snow almost immediately. The picture featured for this report is of the Cirque of the Towers on Friday afternoon. Clear Lake and Big Sandy Lake are open and fishing well. The trail leading to Deep Lake is snowed in almost immediately after leaving the big Sandy Trail. The same goes for the trail going to Miller Lake, Rapid Lake and Temple Lake.
A couple of notes on the climbing route in the Cirque. For those looking to do the routes on the left side of Pingora’s East Face, there is a large snowfield hanging halfway up the route, seeping the lower half of the routes themselves. The South Buttress and NE Face both look to be in condition. The East Ridge on Wolfs Head looks to be dry, however both the Tiger Tower and Grassy Ledges approaches are completely locked in with snow. Anyone looking to do routes in the Cirque right now should bring crampons and an ice axe to facilitate the approach (read: steep snow on the approaches to routes). All routes on Haystack are in condition, minus the routes on the left third of the wall. Hold over snow has wet the left-side of the mountain and created a somewhat-sketchy descent on the Grassy Goat Trail. Be prepared for snow and wet rock on the approach.
Although we’ve has a bit of a slow start to the summer, conditions in the Wind River Range continue to turn for the better. Warm weather coupled with afternoon thunder showers quickly sheds the mountains of snow and each day sees backpackers, climbers and hikers venturing deeper into the high country. We continue to monitor the conditions to bring you the most up-to-date reports possible. If you have any questions about conditions or wanted to chat about a trip you had coming up soon, feel free to give us a call, (307) 367-2440 or shoot us an email, [email protected]. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have and are receiving new information daily about trail conditions.