OverviewSplit Mountain is a thirteener in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. It is located deep in the glacial, northern end of the range on the SW edge of Mammoth Glacier and is likely the most popular 13er objective for mountaineers visiting the Peak Lake cirque. Its distinguishing feature is a fracture running directly and deeply through the mountain creating a lower, SE summit. The Mammoth Glacier is one of the largest in the American Rockies and the G-4 saddle on the west side of the peak has long provided the easiest access for glaciologists and explorers. This likely contributed to the early naming of the peak.
ApproachesPeak Lake is usually reached from the trailhead at Green River Lakes. From Pinedale, follow highway 191 NW for 6 miles to the Cora road. Follow for 45 miles to the lakes. The Highline trail is followed for 15 miles to the Glacier Trail which is followed for 3 miles (through a Class 2 section) to Peak Lake. Peak Lake can also be reached from trailheads to the SW. Approaches normally take backpackers 2-3 days.
Regulations and SpecificsManaged by the Bridger Wilderness and National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply for camp locations, group size, campfire restrictions and ethics. Backpacking stoves and water filtration are necessary. There are no permit requirements. A fee-based campground exists at the trailhead. There are bear requirements for food storage. The approach is known Grizzly habitat; precautions must be taken.
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. Roads are usually opened in early June. An area webcam points at nearby peaks. The approach is heavy with mosquitos and gnats June thru August.
Guides & OutfittersSplit is guided by Exum and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
Local outfitters are eager to support trips into this area by providing equipment and supply drops as well as horsepacking.
Facts and Trivia
- Split was originally called G-5 by surveyors.
- The Koven brothers (Theodore and Gustav), along with NOLS founder Paul Petzoldt, were the first ascenders during their explorations of the area in 1931.
- Split is tied with Desolation Peak as the 23rd highest in the range.
- Located two basins west of the crest, the Peak Lake cirque is separated from the Continental Divide and composed of slightly different material. The gneiss is slightly looser (by solid Wind River standards) than that a mile to the east. Three of the peaks (Twin, Winifred, Buchtel) also form the western wall of Titcomb Basin. There is room for route exploration.
- The trail around the north shore of Peak Lake, shown on the USGS topo, is actually under a rockslide.
- Just past lake 10740, on the trail above Peak Lake, an old weather-beaten sign proclaims:
End of Horse Trail
Wells Creek Glacier 1-1/2
Gannett Peak 2
The Wells Creek Glacier was ultimately renamed "Mammoth" Glacier. There is no trail to Gannett but apparently the sign refers to the view from the saddle or possibly climber's access to the lesser-visited west face of that peak. The sign at the base of the peak is a relic from expeditions to the glacier.
- Peak Lake is the largest source lake for the Green River, itself the largest branch of the Colorado River.
- Green River Lakes is said to be one of the most photographed spots in the Rockies.
- Split Mountain is a common name for peaks; notably, a California 14er previously known as South Palisade.