As we move further into our summer season, most all of the Wind River Range is accessible. Only on the highest passes, tallest peaks and glaciers will you find snow. All creek crossings are calming down and are passable with some shallow wading. As warm as the temperatures have been, and with little rain to keep things wet, we start to see the range dry considerably. Please be cautious, as the rest of the season progresses, with your fires and cooking setups. It only takes a few seconds for flames to get out of control. As the range inevitably gets drier, this will become more of an issue. As a user of the Wilderness, its our job to make sure fires are under control and put ALL THE WAY OUT before leaving. Buried coals can continue burning for days after a fire is “out”.
Questions we inevitably get asked frequently this time of year concern the snow bridge on Gannett. As of now, the snow bridge is intact, but has opened up and is melting fast. Based on reports, we expect an end-of-July ultimatum on the bridge; this is owing heavily to the warm temperatures we’ve seen in the last few weeks.
When the snow bridge does finally melt, you have a couple of options. You can climb the rock on looker’s right of the Gooseneck Couloir. This goes comfortably at 5.3, but can be a bit awkward for those in crampons who are not used to “mixed” climbing. Over the last few years, NOLS has installed tat anchors to aid in rappelling the Gooseneck Couloir, which can be used as a hand-line if the ropes have been left up. Bringing a rope for climbing inevitably calls for a harness, which calls for protection, belay device, etc., etc. Another option would be protecting the bridge with a couple of pickets (snow anchor) for protecting the jump/ climb over the bergshrund.
Option two, involves selecting a different route. The SE Couloir is not often climbed, but offers a wonderful, somewhat more direct route to the summit. Again, as the glacier heats up so will crevasses. There are a few to navigate if you choose to climb the SE Couloir. Rock fall hazard is also more significant on this route, as it heats up faster being south-facing. The pitch from base to summit is a sustained 45 degrees, with some steeper sections towards the top. Along with the Gooseneck route, the SE Couloir is the least technical route to the summit of Gannett.
We will keep you as updated as possible concerning the status of the snow bridge. If you’ve climbed it recently, we’d love to see some pictures or a description of the snow up either route mentioned. We rely on boots on the ground to help prepare others that may come in the shop seeking beta.
We have seen Knapsack Col melting steadily over the last couple of weeks. It is now passable on the lookers right side of the Col as you are ascending. The snow in Titcomb Basin and the finger of Twins Glacier enough to be hikeable completely on the talus and slabs. Expect the creek in Titcomb Basin to still be somewhat high, but passable farther up in the Basin.
Knifepoint Glacier still has some exposed glacial ice; Microspikes and trekking poles are helpful when passing this stretch of the High Route. Be aware that the following section, passing by Alpine Lakes, features terrain that is 3rd/4th class. With a bit of route finding, it’s possible to find and easier route that requires some map reading and foresight. Plan accordingly for this stretch, as it turns many people around every year.
BUGS! Bugs are still alive and well. Make sure to stock up on your DEET, as they are still hungry. I cringe everytime I see backpackers in the shop with welts all over their legs! They are definitely as bad as everyone says.
If you’re looking for an outfitter to pack you into some more obscure parts of the range, consider hiring Erick Kirchner, (307) 413-7748, of Ace in the Hole Outfitters, or Taylor Pyle, (307) 421-1824, of Expeditions Winds. Both know the Winds incredibly well and are permitted to operate inside the Wilderness. Erick is the horse guy, and packs in gear for climbers and backpackers into some remote sections of the southern half of the range. Taylor is on foot, and can reach any place that horses can’t; Taylor also leads multi-day backpacking and fishing trips into the Winds. Consider hiring a local, permitted guide to help with gear and food drops if you situation allows for it!
As a final, very important side note… CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. This means scattering cold fire rings, NOT burning your trash, packing out what you pack in, and (I can’t believe I have to say this one) PROPERLY dispose of your waste, your furry friends included. As more hikers, backpackers and climbers access the Winds, the idea of using the Wilderness responsibly falls more squarely on our shoulders as a collective user group. Use common sense and the seven Leave No Trace principles, so that other users can have an untainted experience and future users can experience the beauty of our wild backyard.
We do share the Wilderness with lots of other creatures. Make sure to do you part in not allowing bears, moose and marmots in the Wind River Range to become habituated to humans by hanging your food and practicing proper food storage. This is true above, as well as below, treeline.
If you have any questions regarding trip planning or gear, feel free to give us a call at (307) 367-2440 or email email@example.com. We carry a full stock of rental backpacking and mountaineering equipment, as well as fishing setups, bear spray and bear-proof containers, fuel and a full assortment of books and maps. Visit us online www.greatoutdoorshop.com to see trip reports, current conditions, or to browse our online store. Follow us on Instagram (@greatoutdoorshopwy), Twitter (@wrrconditions) and Facebook, and be sure to tag us in your Wind River pictures! Our staff is ready to help you plan a Wind River trip or to help with any questions you may have along the way.