Although the major trailheads are accessible and snow-free, the high basins and peaks above 11,000 ft. continue to remain snowed in. The current snow line is hovering between 10,500 ft. and 10,800 ft., depending on aspect. Above these elevations, the snowpack is coming in at a little over 200% of average. Afternoon storms and high temperatures in the high country continue to shed the mountains of snow, making travel easier by the week. The high lakes below 10,000 ft. are also fishing quite well considering the runoff coming out of the mountains.
Green River Lakes is wide open up man of the smaller valleys branching off from the main valley. Same as last week, both bridges over Clear Creek are washed out, so access to the Upper Green River Valley will be from the right side of the lake or the trail coming out of the campground. Country Road 352 is clear all the way up to the trailhead, but expect a bumpy ride the last few miles. 2WD is okay but high clearance is recommended. Whiskey Grove campground is open and camping is allowed.
Elkhart Park is finally snow-free enough to make travel to Photographers Point possible and a few miles beyond. Once you hit Seneca Lake, the snow is full-on all the way up into Titcomb Basin. Expect Island Lake and surrounding lakes in the area (Wall Lake and Cook Lakes) to still have ice. The creek crossing coming out of Seneca lake is easily waded, or passable ~150 ft. up-stream. An early start is encouraged to make the most of frozen snow in the morning.
If you decide to hike out of Halfmoon Lake trailhead, please be aware that the road past Halfmoon Lake Lodge is closed and washed out. The trailhead is accessible by parking outside the lodge and walking the remaining half-mile to the trailhead.
Boulder Lake campground and trailhead is still deemed closed by the Forest Service. Instead of parking your car in the normal trailhead parking, just park a few hundred yards up from the meadow and walk in. Expect lots of water over the trail low down and wet conditions on up the canyon. The climb out heading towards Lake Ethel is dry.
The Scab Creek trailhead is open and dry. Expect buggy conditions and some hold-over snow drifts in areas with thick tree cover. There have been a few horse-packing parties that have cleared out downed trees in the area. Divide Lake was clear of snow two weeks ago, and parties report making it to Dream Lake as well.
Big Sandy Opening has opened a bit more than in our last report. The trail to Jackass Pass is clear of snow, but we continue to receive reports of huge quantities of snow in the Cirque. The “tree island” s clear, allowing camping off the snow. The trail to Clear Lake is opened, although the trail leading to Deep Lake is still somewhat covered. Deep Lake, Temple Lake and Miller Lake are all still mostly frozen over, and snow travel is required to get to these lakes.
We’re starting to hear a few reports of parties making it over Texas Pass, some with ice axe and crampons, some without. At minimum, it is highly recommended to AT LEAST bring an ice axe; crampons AND ice axe are preferred. The Cirque-side of Texas Pass is steep in some places, and an ice axe is cheap insurance against a long slide. Because of the aspect, Shadow Lake is frozen over and camping on snow is required. Both the Hailey and Washakie Pass loops are mostly snow past Skull Lake. Expect ice on the lakes above 10,500 ft.
Reports of climbs on Haystack, Pingora and Wolfs Head all confirm dry conditions with snow on the approaches and descent. Ice axe and crampons still recommended for climbs on these formations. Evidence of descents from Watchtower and Sharks Nose Are also present. Those Eastern faces are devoid of snow on-route. Approach to Sundance Pinnacle is snow-free; be aware of large boulders that may have shifted with the melt/freeze cycles. Approach and descent of Warbonnet is steep snow and ice axe and crampons are recommended.
Skiing continues to be great, especially in northern and western aspects. A continual melt/freeze cycle above 11,000 ft. ensures a nice corn cycle around 10:00 – 11:00 AM. High temperatures continue to consolidate the snowpack and stability is usually not a problem. As we reach the peak of our spring to summer snowpack transitions, be aware that eastern and southern aspects may be quite sun-cupped. Always evaluate avalanche conditions for yourself before committing to skiing in the Wind River Range highcountry.
As always, if you have any questions about current conditions or have questions about planning your trip, feel free to call the shop at (307) 367-2440 or write us an email, [email protected].