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Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report)
Trip Report

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report)

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Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report)

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: Wyoming, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 43.18440°N / 109.653°W

Object Title: Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009 (Photo Trip Report)

Date Climbed/Hiked: May 7, 2009

Activities: Mountaineering, Skiing

Season: Spring

 

Page By: marauders

Created/Edited: May 21, 2009 / Apr 8, 2013

Object ID: 515159

Hits: 15952 

Page Score: 97.93%  - 75 Votes 

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Introduction

The Wind River Mountains are one of the finest outdoor destinations in the West, with Gannett Peak standing as its tallest peak. During a Cascade climbing trip in 2008, Dave proposed this idea of using GPS waypoints he had gathered over past trips to make a spring attempt on Gannett Peak. The additional snowpack mileage gave us a projected distance of 48 round trip miles.

Climbers: Ben, Dave, Matt, Levi.



 
Gannett from Bonney
Gannett Peak, Wind River Mountains, Wyoming (photo: SawtoothSean).

DAY 1: SLC to Photographers Point

With work, family, school and other responsibilities, we had to plan the trip far in advance. Of course, weather is always the variable in such situations, but the forecast called for two stormy days at the beginning of our trip, with better weather during our intended summit day. With anticipation and optimism we took off at 7:00 a.m. from Salt Lake City and made it to the trailhead about noon.

The road to Elkhart Park is only plowed within 4 miles of the official trailhead. To our relief, local trucks had beat the first mile of road into solid, stable ruts. But after that progress, our truck began to high-center, so we left good enough alone, parked the car, and began our hike. Each of us hauled between 80-100 pounds of gear, carrying the majority of it in our sleds.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Dave, Matt, Levi and Ben.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Skiing through Elkhart Park.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Camp 1 near Photographers Point.

DAY 2: Photographers Point to Little Seneca Lake

We made about 6 miles our first halfday, and had worked out the nuances of our sleds and pullcords. We had a nice trail to follow from other ski parties, but an overnight snow storm dropped six inches of snow and covered all remaining evidence of their path. We resorted to our GPS waypoints, maps, and compasses to navigate the trickiest part of the trail from Photographers Point to Seneca Lake. On paper the route is obvious, but in the environment of thick forest, undulating hills, and multiple lakes, proper orientation and choosing the most efficient path of travel can be tough. Our progress was slower than we would have liked, but we made it to the north shoreline of Seneca Lake by dusk. We set up Camp 2 just in time for another snow storm.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
The joy of navigation. "Where exactly are we?"

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Crossing Seneca Lake.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Camp 2 between Seneca Lake and Little Seneca Lake.

DAY 3: Little Seneca Lake to Titcomb Basin

The weather forecast called for two days of storms, then clearing weather. We crossed our fingers that Day 3 would bring the sunshine and blue skies we anticipated. We were particularly excited because today we would be entering Titcomb Basin, with its stunning scenery. The fine weather and open terrain made for easy travel and we sailed up to the top of Titcomb Basin by mid-afternoon. I'm definitely using the word "sailed" too liberally because we were all dead by the time we stopped for camp. The last two miles was a test of wills and counting footsteps.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Bluebird morning near Little Seneca Lake.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Crossing Little Seneca Lake.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Along Indian Pass Trail.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
The stunning spectacle of Island Lake and Titcomb Basin.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Crossing Titcomb Lakes.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Awesome perspective (three skiers near the bottom middle).

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Traveling upper Titcomb Basin.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Another shot of upper Titcomb Basin.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Looking down Titcomb Basin.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Camp 3 at the base of Mount Helen near Bonney Pass.


Scenery in Titcomb Basin:
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Mount Sacajawea to Fremont Peak.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Peak 12,205

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
American Legion Peak, Winifred Peak, and Twin Peaks.





DAY 4: Storm Day

As we cooked dinner we listened to the local NWS forecast over our radio. The forecast called for sunny morning skies, with unsettled weather in the afternoon. "Perfect," we thought, "let's wake up early, catch the morning weather window, and summit Gannett Peak!" Unfortunately, all of our pent up enthusiasm was squashed the next morning when we looked outside the tent. We held out hope until 10:00 a.m. (which we felt was our latest possible hour to make a summit bid), but ended up using the "storm day" we had planned into our schedule. Our continued NWS forecasts gave us the wonderful confirmation that the skies were sunny everywhere but the high Wind River Mountains, and the remainder of our trip didn't look much better. All we needed was one more decent morning, but it appeared our weather window was shutting.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Where are the sunny skies?

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Slighty better conditions in the late afternoon.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Mount Helen.



DAY 5: Summit Day

With no more "storm days" built into our schedule, Day 5 was summit day...no matter what. The morning was cloudy, but pleasant, and we felt we could make it if the weather held steady. Yet by the time we hit the top of Bonney Pass, a new wave of ferocious weather was gaining strength. At the top of Bonney Pass we could see Gannet Peak being swallowed in a white-out, and we knew the correct decision was "Go home and live to climb again." The decision was very disappointing after all that hard work, but brutal 70mph winds wouldn't allow us to deliberate long, either continue along the Dinwoody Glacier or descend now, there was no time to spare. Without forehand knowledge of the summit cornice structures and avalanche observations, we just couldn't commit in low visibility and high winds.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Pleasant conditions in the early morning.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Ascending Bonney Pass.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
The upper pass was a solid slope of ice, so we scrambled up the rocks. We were too lazy to get out the crampons.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Gannett Peak.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
This is the same view 10 minutes later. Brutal winds.


We descended back to camp with the storm intensifying. We could waste the day in our tents, then break camp the next morning, but instead decided to get on with it and broke camp in the blizzard. We pressed on to Island Lake where we could use the trees as a shelter from the wind.
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Breaking camp.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Crossing Titcomb Basin in a wild storm. Winds were head-on. Gusts were so strong we would be pushed over or slide backwards on our skis.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Camp 4 at Island Lake.




DAY 6: Island Lake to SLC

The next morning at Island Lake just was just as stormy as the one before, giving us some validation that we had made the right decision to descend. Still, we couldn't help but imagine what adventure and scenery was waiting beyond Bonney Pass. Our plan was to get back to Photographers Point, then make for the trailhead on Day 7. Yet by the time we made it to Photographers Point, it was early afternoon and we were feeling good. We opted to finish the battle and get home. We made it to the car at sunset, totally exhausted. My saving grace the last few miles was imaging the monster burger I was going to eat in Pinedale. We hit the diner 15 minutes before closing. I think I would have wept like a child had I not gotten that burger! Afterward, we hit the road, promising lively conversation to keep the driver awake. We made it home safely at 2:00 a.m. Here's to next year!
Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Crossing Seneca Lake.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Endless miles of forest.

Gannett Peak Ski Tour, May 2009
Reaching the car at sunset.

Images


Comments


[ Post a Comment ]
Viewing: 21-26 of 26 « PREV 1 2 NEXT »

maraudersRe: To even attempt it took moxie!

marauders

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the comments. It was tough, no doubt. Harder than I expected, but we learned a lot for the next go around.
Posted Jun 5, 2009 12:11 pm

JCarlsonBeautiful!

JCarlson

Voted 10/10

Loved the trip report. Can't wait for the summer to be over so I can give it a shot.
Posted Jun 5, 2009 9:42 am

lloydNice read

lloyd

Voted 10/10

Awesome photos!
Posted Jun 6, 2009 9:51 pm

lostinthewoodsNice and a ?

Hasn't voted

Awesome pictures. Looks like a fun trip.

Question: Do you happen to have your GPS coordinates / waypoints you could share?
Posted Jun 17, 2009 11:07 pm

maraudersRe: Nice and a ?

marauders

Hasn't voted

Yeah, no problem. Send me an email from my profile page.
Posted Jun 18, 2009 10:58 am

bsstumpyGreat Adventure

bsstumpy

Voted 10/10

Your trip report was great! Thanks for sharing and loved your pics.
Posted Aug 6, 2011 8:10 pm

Viewing: 21-26 of 26 « PREV 1 2 NEXT »