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Mount Hooker
Mountain/Rock

Mount Hooker

 
Mount Hooker

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Wyoming, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 42.85300°N / 109.304°W

Object Title: Mount Hooker

Elevation: 12504 ft / 3811 m

 

Page By: Dave Hodge

Created/Edited: Jan 5, 2005 / Sep 27, 2005

Object ID: 153515

Hits: 15453 

Page Score: 92.85%  - 40 Votes 

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Overview



The Baptiste Lake Valley from the summit plateau of Mt. Hooker

Mount Hooker is an oddly shaped and amusingly named mountain straddling the Continental Divide deep in the wilderness of Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Carved from high plateaus by glaciers, Mt. Hooker’s appearance defies the usual mountain aesthetic and is closer to the mold of Baffin Island peaks. The mountain contains an interesting assortment of features on its various aspects. The nearly 2000 ft high North Face is considered to be the highest unbroken vertical rock face in Wyoming, and one of the largest in the entire Rocky Mountains. The massive summit plateau is close to 100 acres in size. This plateau represents the ancient pre-Pleistocene erosion surface and is covered in boulders of frost-shattered felsenmeer. The western and northwestern aspects are connected to surrounding peaks by steep ridges and faces. Surrounded on nearly all sides by imposing walls, a single 300 ft wide ramp on the mountain’s southeast side breaches the cliffs to provide a nontechnical route to the top, although there is another, often overlooked, scrambling route on the south face slabs. From the summit plateau, one is given intimate views of many prominent surrounding peaks such as Mt. Bonneville, Musembeah, Raid, and Pronghorn Peaks.

An 1877 scientific expedition to the Rocky Mountains by English naturalist Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and American botanist Asa Gray was hosted by Ferdinand V. Hayden, the first director of the U.S. Geological Survey. This probably resulted in the attachment of their names to Mt. Hooker and Gray's Peak, respectively. Throughout the later half of the 19th century, Joseph Hooker would pioneer scientific explorations around the globe to such varied regions as the Antarctic, Australasia, the Himalayas, the Middle East, and Africa that resulted in significant advances in the understanding of the taxonomic and geographical distribution of plants. He also served as president of the Royal Society.

Climbing History


None other than W.O. Owen of Grand Teton fame (or infamy) claimed a first ascent in 1890. This ascent is uncertain, however, since the naming conventions for the mountains may have undergone some changes, and the previous location of Mt. Hooker may have been the current Dike Mountain (the potential for puns based on the mountain's name are virtually endless). Dike Mountain is named for it's mafic intrusion. There are some climbers/historians who cast serious doubt on a lot of Owen's exploits because of his reputation as a self aggrandizer, but what is known is that in lieu of a summit register he always chiseled his name on a summit rock. There is no such marking on Mount Hooker (of course, there isn't one on Dike, either). He was working for the (new) state of Wyoming Land Office as a surveyor - but not on those peaks so this casts even more doubt as well as the fact that the the claim was made later on. If he did climb Dike he apparently took no angles! Another group in 1934 also claimed a first ascent via the East Ledge as reported in the American Alpine Journal. (contributed by jimmyjay)

The North Face was first climbed in 1964 at VI 5.10 A4 by California climbers including Royal Robbins. This was significant as the first Grade VI climb outside of Yosemite Valley, and one of the earliest “big wall” climbs in the Rocky Mountains considering that Black Canyon and the Diamond of Long's Peak had just seen their first major climbs in 1960. In 1990, two competing groups free-climbed the original North Face route at VI 5.12a, with one ascent documented by the photography of the late Galen Rowell. A number of other routes exist on this face, and all include difficult free and/or aid climbing due to discontinuous crack systems. I once read a line from a famous climber (maybe Warren Harding or John Gill) that said something like, “Mountaineering can be defined as climbing to the top of a mountain by the easiest way possible, while rock climbing is climbing to the top of nothing by the hardest possible way.” Contrary to this, Mt. Hooker can provide a summit climb for both mountaineers and rock climbers.

Wind River Range


Wyoming’s Wind River Range runs southeast from its intersection with the Absaroka Mountains at Togwotee Pass to South Pass, where the Continental Divide yields to the rolling hills and sagebrush desert of the Great Divide Basin. Nearly the entire range is wilderness totaling roughly 1 million acres, without a single road crossing or even entering the entire range. This necessitates multi-day approaches for most peaks or climbs. The range contains 43 of Wyoming’s 50 highest peaks, including most of its thirteen thousand foot peaks. The range was deeply chiseled by glaciers during the Ice Ages, resulting in many steep-walled cirques and river valleys, as well as massive lakes such as Green River Lakes, Fremont Lake, and New Fork Lake where the glaciers pushed out of the high country into the surrounding plains. The glaciers still linger primarily on the leeward side of the divide in the northern part of the range, and are some of the largest remaining in the U.S. Rockies. Much of the rock in the range is bomber granite and metamorphic providing abundant opportunities for rock climbing if you’re willing to undertake the approaches.

Getting There


Dickinson Park Trailhead:
This trailhead is on the eastern side of the range. In the past 30 years, WR Reservation policy for the Dickinson Park Road has varied from a)open to the public b)open to the public carrying a tribal fishing permit or c)closed to the public. It is currently (Sept., 2005) open without permit requirement. There is also a tribal outfitter working out of Mocassin Lake. If outfitted, you can use the Mocassin Lake trailhead which is the most direct access to Grave Lake and saves going over Bear Ears Pass. (contributed by jimmyjay)

To reach this trailhead, follow the unmarked but only paved road heading west from Fort Washakie. The road turns to dirt after a few miles and is rough, which makes for very slow driving, but it is still passable in 2WD vehicles. Follow this for about 20 miles to the signed Bear's Ears Trail. This trailhead is on the right a short distance from the campground at the end of the road. Using this trailhead, the total distance to mountain is about 17 miles and requires crossing a high pass.

Bear's Ears Trail Approach:
Follow the marked Bear's Ears Trail nearly 16 miles to the meadows below Baptiste Lake, directly beneath Mt. Hooker's North Face.

Big Sandy Opening Trailhead:
This trailhead is on the western side of the range, and requires negotiating nearly 40 miles of washboard dirt roads before you even begin hiking. A good description for reaching this trailhead can be found on Alan Ellis' Cirque of the Towers Page. Using this trailhead, the total distance to mountain is about 14 miles and also requires crossing a high pass.

Hailey Pass Approach:
From the Big Sandy Opening Trailhead, follow the Fremont Trail and the Pyramid Lake Trail 10 miles the junction of the Hailey Pass Trail just before Mae's Lake. This trail isn't marked and is very faint initially. Follow this trail about 4 miles over Hailey Pass to the reach the meadows below Baptiste Lake.

Red Tape


Mt. Hooker is located near the junction of three land management units: the Bridger Wilderness in Bridger-Teton National Forest, the Popo Agie Wilderness in Shoshone National Forest, and the Wind River Roadless Area in the Wind River Indian Reservation. Standard wilderness regulations apply, i.e. no motorized vehicles, bicycles, etc. Camping is free anywhere in the backcountry, although camping within 100 yards of streams and lakes is prohibited and open fires are prohibited above treeline. Special fees and regulations apply if approaching from the Indian Reservation. The practice of low-impact camping techniques is critical in these popular wilderness areas. Water should be filtered or sterilized before drinking. While grizzlies have not recolonized this part of the range (yet?), precautions should be taken to minimize encounters with black bears such as hanging food and cooking away from the area where you sleep.

When To Climb


Summer is the most common season for hiking, mountaineering, and climbing. While mountaineering and ski touring are possible in the winter and spring, the multi-day approaches and wilderness flavor make this a pursuit of only a hardy few. Expect plenty of other backpackers and large pack trains of horses in the popular areas. Summer also brings hordes of mosquitoes that will drive you crazy. They’re not as bad when you’re moving, but can make cooking and pumping water miserable. Mosquito repellant containing DEET is partially effective. By September the mosquitoes are mostly gone for the year.

Mountain Conditions



Click for Lander, Wyoming Forecast

Sources


AAJ, 1935; p. 413.
AAJ, 1991; pp. 131-139.
Kelsey J (1994). Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains, 2nd Ed. Chockstone Press. Evergreen, CO.
Turiano T (2004). Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone. Indomitus Books. Jackson, WY.

Images

Mount HookerMount HookerMt. Hooker and Grave Lake...The North Face of Mt. Hooker...Mt. Hooker from the Baptiste...Panorama from the expansive...Aerial view of Mt Hooker
Wind River Range"Hitching Post Peak" and Mt....The July 2002 forest fire in...wyomingwapitiMt. Hooker East face from the...Mt. Bonneville (center) and...Mt. Hooker North Face from...