OverviewFremont Peak is the second highest mountain in the Wind River Range and the third highest in Wyoming. Barely visible from the plains to the east, it is highly dominant from the west where it appears to be the range highpoint. A Continental Divide summit, its most popular route is a steep scramble reached from the most popular trailhead in the range, normally in a multi-day trip. Fremont also provides multi-pitch (to Grade IV) technical routes on the high-quality gneiss of the massive south and west faces. The north face has alpine routes and is filled almost to the brim with one of the largest glaciers in the American Rockies. A vertical snow couloir on the south face makes the peak indentifiable from points 30 miles down range and, in fact, the peak is also apparent from peaks in other Wyoming ranges. Its history goes back to 1842 when it was climbed by John C. Frémont. Its status as the highest peak with a non-technical route makes it one of the most popular climbs in the state. It is also the dominant peak passed by mountaineers on their way to Gannett Peak. Though Devils Tower may adorn the Wyoming license plate, it's Fremont Peak that greets visitors on border signs.
"Here was not the inn which awaits the tired traveler on his return from Mont Blanc" - Frémont
ApproachesThe commonly used entrance, particularly if this is the only peak on the agenda, is the trailhead at Elkhart Park. The paved Fremont Lake road goes east from the south edge of Pinedale heading 14 miles to a parking lot at the trailhead. A combination of the Pole Creek, Seneca Lake, Indian Basin and Titcomb trails lead 14 miles into a base in either Titcomb or Indian Basins. Most parties take two days for the approach if backpacking.
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. As the only high trailhead in the range serviced by a paved road, spring trips from Elkhart Park are common. The road is plowed to within about 2.5 miles of its end in the winter - about 2 miles past the turnoff to White Pine. Wet years, the approach is heavy with mosquitos and gnats in June and July.
An area webcam depicts current conditions.
Guides & OutfittersFremont is guided by Exum and JHMG. It is also climbed by participants in NOLS courses.
Local outfitters are eager to support trips into this area by providing equipment and supply drops as well as horsepacking. This is particularly helpful on multi-peak trips.
Regulations and SpecificsThe west side is managed by the Bridger Wilderness and National Forest. The east side is managed by the Fitzpatrick Wilderness of Shoshone National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply for camp locations, group size, campfire restrictions and ethics. There are no permit requirements in these two wildernesses. There are some bear requirements for food storage. Though grizzlies have re-migrated to this part of the range, they are not known to frequent this approach. Minimum-impact camping and travel ethics are increasingly important at Seneca and Titcomb Lakes. Backpacking stoves are required and most climbers filter or treat their water. A fee-based campground exists at the trailhead.
History and TriviaIn 1842, Lieutenant John Charles Frémont was sent west as the commander of a government research team to survey the Oregon Trail and write a detailed report. After crossing the Continental Divide with his soldiers and famed mountain man Kit Carson, the party set out to climb what was then considered the "loftiest" peak of the Rocky Mountain chains (although the Southern Rockies have over 100 higher peaks and Gannett, the highest in the Central Rockies, is a mere 6 miles north, standing on the plains to the west, or down range, it's easy to see why this peak was chosen). Taking several days to summit, according to the journal of pioneering western cartographer Charles Preuss, many of the men exhibited signs of what we now know as altitude sickness.
Frémont's explorations of the west continued including the "discovery" of Lake Tahoe. After promotions in rank he entered political life eventually campaigning for President of the United States as the first candidate of the brand new Republican party using his nickname "The Pathfinder". Frémont's climb is considered by many to be the first ascent of a major peak in Wyoming (Pikes Peak Colorado turned out to be a few hundred feet higher and had been climbed by an expedition 22 years prior). Frémonts topographic map, when published, proudly marked Frémont Peak as the dominant point of the Rocky Mountains, giving the peak a prominent place in American culture for many decades. His name remains on a multitude of land and political features throughout the western states.
The fame of Frémont Peak attracted artist Alfred Jacob Miller and Scottish explorer William Drummond Stewart, in 1837, who made it as far as Island Lake.
Frémont Peak was ascended a second time, long before other major Wyoming peaks attracted any mountaineering attention, on 7Aug1878 by A.D WIlson, William Henry Jackson, Wm H Holmes, Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden, AC Ladd, Cliff Richardson, James Eccles, and Michel Payot. The third ascent was by Harold and Charles Titcomb, 28Jul1901. The adjacent valley is thus named for the mountaineering brothers.
"We had climbed the loftiest peak of the Rocky Mountains and looked down upon the snow a thousand feet below, and, standing where no human foot had stood before, felt the exultation of first explorers" - John Charles Frémont; report to U.S. Congress
"I had imagined the Rocky Mountains entirely different, namely as a divide between eastern and western America - but these are individual mountain ranges seperated by plateaus fifty to one hundred miles wide" - Charles Preuss
One of 19th century western landscape painter Albert Bierstadt's best works is his painting of Fremont Peak which hangs prominently in the Metropolitan, New York City (see image below).
BibliographyHenderson; Applachia, AMC bulletin, 1933.
Bonney, O.H. (1977). Guide to the Wyoming Mountains, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago,IL.
- Didn't make it up the mountain, but some pictures of Indian Basin and that approach to the scramble route