OverviewMount Febbas is the tenth highest mountain in the Wind River Range and the 11th highest in Wyoming. This 13er is located in the glacial, northern end of the range. It is the highest peak in the Wind Rivers that is removed from the continental divide crest and, as such, is often touted as having the best view in the range. The massive Febbas is the culminating point of the 30 mile-long Horse Ridge which rises from the upper Wind River basin at around 6000 feet to its crest at 13,468'. It is separated from Sunbeam Peak (to the west) by Blaurock Pass. From its summit one looks out over the largest glaciers in the American Rockies (the Bull Lake-Fremont group, the Gannett group, and the Dinwoody Glaciers) as well as almost every peak in the range. The ridge's north side makes up the south rim of Dinwoody Canyon and contains several glaciers and snowfields, a lake, large cliffs and many pinnacles - the most well known being Fourts Horn. The south and east faces contain over a dozen lakes, glaciers, snowfields and two cirques which are virtually unclimbed due to long trailless approaches and access via private land. Though it is often climbed on a 'rest' day for those in the Dinwoody/Gannett glacier area, comments in the summit register suggest it is commonly climbed as its own goal. It is also summited by those who, after seeing Gannett Peak up close, opt for a non-technical alternative or a safer one - particularly if the bergschrund has opened up on the Gooseneck Glacier. The two summit routes are easy scrambles. Technical routes are available on over a dozen walls, arêtes and towers, the majority of which are gneiss.
Febbas's Knoll Lake (misspelled as Noel on some topo maps) is the highest lake in Wyoming and the Central Rockies at 12165'/3708m.
Getting ThereThe standard approach is via the Glacier Trail from the Torrey lakes trailhead. 4 miles east of Dubois, turn south from highway 26/287 and follow the recently improved dirt road (FS #411; passable in cars) eight miles past Trail Lake Ranch to its end. The Glacier Trail is then taken for approximately 21 miles to the Dinwoody moraine. The area can also be reached from the Elkhart Park trailhead via the route over Bonney Pass. This entails a trek of a similar distance but adds the high crossing of the divide and the complete descent of Dinwoody Glacier. Alternately, the tribal outfitter from the Wind River reservation (307-332-7207) can take you up a jeep road and drop you at an eastern extremity of Horse Ridge near the forest service boundary. This fixes you to a strict schedule and will cost in the hundreds after the permits are added.
Season/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 normally 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. Because the Trail Lake/Torrey trailhead is below 8000', on the dry side of the range (the glaciers above absorb the majority of the storms), the trailhead can surprisingly be reached almost year round; the exception being during heavy spring storms. The downside for ski approaches is that several miles must often be hiked before snow is reached. An area webcam depicts current conditions. The approach can be heavy with mosquitos June thru July. Water must be carried the first 10 miles of the Glacier Trail.
Guides and OutfittersSeveral Dubois Outfitters can provide packhorses, guides, or equipment drops to the base of the Dinwoody Glaciers. Febbas is guided by Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Exum. It is also made available to participants in NOLS courses.
Management & SafetyThe west side approach is managed by the Bridger Wilderness and National Forest. The peak is in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness of Shoshone National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply for camp locations, group size, campfire restrictions and ethics. There are bear requirements for food storage. Grizzlies have migrated back to this part of the range in the last decade; appropriate preparations are advised. The Trail Lake trailhead has an undeveloped campground. The Elkhart Park trailhead has developed sites.
Geology & HistoryHorse Ridge is a massive peneplain. It existed before the range was uplifted, floating above the scouring glaciers of the ice age and now remains as an indication of what the range once looked like.
Though it is barely visible from the Green River basin, west of the range, Febbas was named for a 19th century wrangler and guide from the Gros Ventre Lodge. The first ascent is sometimes credited to Arthur Tate, on his second reconaissance expedition of Gannett Peak in 1920 (he would make the first successful ascent of that peak two summers later). Due to its "highway-like" nature, Horse Ridge was undoubtedly useful to native tribes and as such may have seen a previous first ascent. It is this nature that allowed Carl Blaurock (and partner Albert Ellingwood) to make his noteworthy forays into the range in the 1920's when he used the adjacent Dry Creek Ridge after discussing possible routes with the FS Supervisor. The west slope from the summit drops abruptly to the pass that now carries his name.
A conspicuous feature of the summit area is Chimney Rock. It can be seen all the way from the Wind River at Burris and was once prominent. It is not a solid pinnacle, but a thumb-like pile of sliding gneiss-chips and slates. In 1873, Dr. T.B. Comstock (geologist for the Jones expedition) and party ascended Chimney Rock to investigate. Their report describes it as being a couple hundred feet higher than today! If so, this would have been the highpoint of Horse Ridge at the time though it is likely they visited the current summit as well if only for the view into the glacial basin (they are only a half mile apart across easy terrain). Either way, this was the second highest point to be climbed in the state at that time. This description, however, should deter the modern climber. Finis 'Old Man of the Mountains' Mitchell was once quoted as saying "It will fall off one of these days". Shortly after WW2 (and before wilderness designation), Finis petitioned the state to extend the Cold Springs road all the way to the summit of Febbas - almost successfully. Though many of us are glad this never happened, Finis' reasoning was that more people needed to see this alpine region in order to appreciate its beauty and to understand the value of wilderness preservation (none of these glaciers and valleys are visible from roads or populated areas). Ahead of his time, he also considered those of handicaps who had no means to enter the area. It's unlikely he would have predicted the tripling of use the area has seen in the last decade. The area was previously a candidate for the placement of Glacier NP as well as Rocky Mountain NP - either of which would have led to its development.
Fourts Horn, another feature, was named for Edgar Fourt, a Lander, Wyoming judge and pioneer.
Though dozens of parties may base themselves just north of Febbas each summer, they are usually heading for Gannett. Still, while in camp, the climber's eye is attracted to the massive walls of Horse Ridge.
Sources/BibliographyBonney, O.H. (1977). Guide to the Wyoming Mountains, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago,IL.
Euser, Barbara (1984). A Climbers Climber: On the Trail with Carl Blaurock; Cordillera Press.