OverviewDesolation Peak is a thirteener in the northern Wind River Range of Wyoming. Desolation is an apt name due to its remoteness and the nature of the surrounding area - it is a difficult peak to reach. Sitting west of the crest, its summit is a planar surface nearly identical in composition to that of the nearby Continental Divide. The large, flat summit and four steep sides give the peak a squarish appearance. This, combined with the ridged snowcap, makes the peak recognizable. The snowcap is seasonally the highest, shifting point. Deso is surrounded by lakes filled with glacial silt and several small glaciers. It is sometimes climbed by parties that have an extra day at the base of the west face of Gannett, but not by more than a couple per year. Route difficulties range from Class 3 to mid Class 5 and most faces and ridges have been climbed. The peak appears as part of Gannett when viewed from the Teton Range to the west.
ApproachesDesolation is perhaps most easily reached by bushwacking up Tourist Creek from Three Forks Park on the upper Green River. Start from the trailhead at Green River Lakes. From Pinedale, follow highway 191 NW for 6 miles to the Cora road. Follow for 45 miles to the lakes. The Highline trail is followed for 10 miles to Three Forks Park. Instead of crossing the river at the lower end of Three Forks Park, follow use trails for 1 mile up the east side of the river until Tourist Creek is met. From here, a faint bushwacking trail gains 1800' in one mile up the south side of the creek to lake 10090. Continue for 2 miles up the basin to the SE to reach lake 11085 for all routes but the north face. For the north face, branch east to lake 11145. Deso has been reached from all directions including the notorious Wells Creek, hanging valley approach (which includes a Class 4 waterfall/slot canyon combination). Approaches normally take backpackers 2 days.
Management and RegulationsManaged by the Bridger Wilderness and National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply for camp locations, group size, campfire restrictions and ethics. There are no permit requirements for small group foot traffic. Grizzlies have re-migrated to this area. Take necessary precautions. Food caching on the approach is prohibited. Backpacking stoves and water filtration are required. Fee-based campgrounds exists at the Green River Lakes trailhead.
Seasonal ConditionsSummer season in the Wind Rivers is generally July-September with snow lingering on the higher trails into July. A snow storm is traditional between the last week of August and the second week of September. This is often followed by a dry period with crisp temperatures for 1-4 weeks. On glacier routes crevasses are hidden in June and begin opening sometime in July. Roads are usually opened in early June. An area webcam points at nearby peaks. The approach is heavy with mosquitos and gnats June thru August.
Guides & OutfittersDesolation is guided by Exum and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
Local outfitters are eager to support trips into this area by providing equipment and supply drops as well as horsepacking.
Facts and Trivia
- 1 asc by Theodore and Gustav Koven via a west couloir - 1930.
- Desolation is tied with Split as the 26th highest in Wyoming.
- The longest of its four ridges is the NW which culminates in a point known as "Mount Solitude". Midway across the ridge is a buttress named Three Cirque Needle with established routes. The SW Ridge is a quality 5.7 that bypasses a gendarme called "Broken Hand Pinnacle".
- If the Wells Creek approach is used, the peak will seem easy by comparison. Some backpackers consider this approach one of the great wilderness challenges of the range. It is not passable during peak runoff.
- Desolation Peak is also the name of a peak in the North Cascades.
SourcesBonney, O.H. (1977). Guide to the Wyoming Mountains, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago,IL.
Kelsey, Joe (1994). Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains, 2nd Ed.; Falcon Press. Guilford, CT.