OverviewMount Sublette is in the Togwotee Group of the Absaroka Range of Wyoming. It is also known as Brooks Mountain, though this name travels around the area. Sitting directly astride the Continental Divide, it is one of the peaks loosely referred to as the Brooks Lake "Pinnacles". Just north of the crest of Togwotee Pass, an 800' high cliff runs east for one mile, does a 90-degree turn, then runs north for 2 miles. The summit is a large turret at the corner.
The mountain is one of the rare dayclimbs of the Wind River area and is also close to Jackson Hole. The view from the summit provides an unparalleled angle on the Gros Ventre Range, encompasses the Teton Range in its entirety, and offers a glimpse into the Upper Yellowstone region - the most remote in the contig. While the northwest slopes are skiable, the rock on the faces is large-conglomerate breccia. There is a microwave tower on the western shoulder. Mount Sublette's lower tandem, the challenging Sublette Peak, is one half mile SE and separated by a saddle drop of over 500' .
Driving to the BaseThe pass is reached by driving highway 26/287 for 34 miles east from Moran Junction or for 22 miles west from Dubois. 1 mile west of the summit, at 9,400', there is a shoulder pull-out for parking (usually plowed in the winter). This highway is undergoing a protracted and inflated 7-year construction project. Expect some delays.
Management and Special ConsiderationsThis mountain lies partially in Fremont County, partially in Teton County and is managed by Shoshone National Forest and Bridger Teton National Forest. It is also partially within the Teton Wilderness.
Grizzly-Human encounters have become more frequent on the pass. As well as becoming habitat in the last decade, this pass has become the migration route for grizzlies leaving the Absaroka for the Wind Rivers. You should be prepared.
Season/ConditionsSummer season in the Togwotee/Upper Wind River area is generally July-early September with snow lingering into July and returning in early September. Winter Sports are popular in the area from late November to late May. Togwotee Mountain Lodge is eight miles west and operates Mid-June to late August and early December to late March. There are two nice campgrounds a few miles east of the pass at Falls and Brooks Lake.
Togwotee weather and avalanche forecast.
Mount Sublette and its long north ridge over Brooks Lake. (photo credit: Bob Sihler).
Etymology & ContextMount Sublette and Sublette Peak are named for famed mountain man William Sublette. Sublette was the constable of St. Charles, Missouri when he answered William Ashley's 1822 advertisement offering employment in the fur trade for those brave enough to leave the states and enter the Rocky Mountains of Louisiana to trap beaver. A natural traveler and survivor in the wilderness, he explored the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and as far as the Pacific northwest while becoming partners with Jedidiah Smith and David Jackson (after whom Sublette named Jackson Hole). In preparation for the 1830 supply rendezvous (at today's Riverton), he became the first to bring wheeled vehicles to the central Rockies when he led a wagon train from St. Louis, opening the path that would become the Oregon Trail. The success and profit of the event led him to sell the company to Tom Fitzpatrick and Jim Bridger. He then built Fort William at the mouth of Jacques d'La Ramée's river. This was purchased by the U.S. Government as an important stockade and cavalry waypost for travelers on the Oregon Trail and was rechristened Fort Laramie. The fur trade, which began with the return of Lewis and Clark in 1806, ended in 1840 with the introduction of silk hats. Returning to the states, Sublette became the key developer of Kansas City.
Discovery of Togwotee Pass is credited to the Captain Jones expedition. Captain Jones named it for a Sheepeater-Shoshone brave that had accompanied the 1873 expedition. The 1883 Chester Arthur presidential cavalcade to the new and remote Yellowstone National Park then further demonstrated its viability. Highway 26/287 now uses the pass to provide the Central Rockies' highest paved crossing of the Continental Divide and access to the south gate of Yellowstone.
There is also a Sublette Range in western Wyoming, next to the Idaho border.
Facts, Trivia & Quotes
- 1st recorded ascent by Finis Mitchell.
- The peak also known as Brooks Mountain though that name is also applied to a mountain to the NE which, in turn, is commonly called Austin Mountain.
- World reknowned for its snowmobiling, Togwotee Pass (at 9,544') commonly receives about 400" of snow from October to June.
- The rock is Absaroka breccia.
- Togwotee is pronounced TOE-guh-dee. Absaroka is ab-SOR-kuh.
- The Absaroka Range stretches over 160 miles from Livingston, Montana to a point east of Dubois, Wyoming. At their widest they are about 75 miles thick. The are bounded by the Beartooth Range and Bighorn Basin to the north and east, the Wind River Basin and Jackson Hole to the south and the Yellowstone Plateau to the west. The largest section (Wyoming) was formed by extensive volcanism prior to the formation of the neighboring ranges of the Rocky Mountain chains. Though the volcanic activity has died and the sources have become indistinct, the active Yellowstone caldera hotspot is slowly creeping east, under the range. Breccia rock from the Abasaroka eruptions has been found as far away as Arkansas.
- While camped near the mountain in 1860, the Raynolds Expedition noted: "Directly across our route lies a basaltic ridge, rising not less than 5,000 feet above us, its walls apparently vertical, and no visible pass, or even canyon. On the opposite side of this are the headwaters of the Yellowstone. Bridger remarked triumphantly and forcibly to me upon this spot, 'I told you you could not go through. A bird cannot fly over that without taking a supply of grub along.'"
- "The range of mountains on the east and south of the Yellowstone Basin are among the ruggedest and most inaccessible ranges on the continent. From the valley of Wind River they present a nearly vertical wall from 1,500 to 2,000 feet high, which has never been scaled by white man or Indian, but are covered with perpetual snows to a greater or less extent. From any high point a chaotic mass of peaks may be seen."- Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, Geological Survey of the Territories, 1871.
Sources/BibliographyFetter, Richard (1982). Mountain Men of Wyoming; Johnson Books. Boulder, CO.
Bonney, O.H. (1977). Guide to the Wyoming Mountains, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago,IL.