The beautiful mountain in Wyoming's Northern Absaroka Range known as Robbers Roost is an interesting peak for several reasons. It is often mistaken for Trout Peak from the town of Cody, as its large mass blocks Trout Peak from view from some angles, and there is no official name for the peak despite its status as the 194th-highest mountain in Wyoming; this local name comes from an old hideout on the mountain's eastern flanks known as Robbers Roost Cabin. It could be argued that this point is actually the east summit of Trout Peak, and, as can be seen in the view below taken from the southeast, the sharper point on the left (Trout) and the broad ridge on the right (Robbers) do indeed look like the same mountain.
However, this picture was taken from a distance, and there is actually over a mile separating the two summits; also, Robbers Roost has 445 feet of prominence, which easily qualifies it as a separate mountain. The character of the peaks is also quite different, as Trout has a broader, flat summit, while the top of Robbers Roost lies on a long, narrow spine of rugged rock spires and pinnacles.
Climbing this peak is a beautiful wilderness experience that takes you through some very wild and remote country. The minimum trip distance required to summit this peak is about 21 miles through an area that is home to grizzlies, wolves, mountains lions, and many other kinds of wildlife. Most people who are interested in climbing Robbers Roost will want to climb Trout Peak as well; see this page for more information on the routes on the highest peak in the range.
Summit ViewsThe summit views from Robbers Roost are awesome, as the small and narrow summit provides stunning vistas all around.
Take Highway 120 north out of Cody, Wyoming for about 8.0 miles and turn left on County Road 7UH, which is also known as Monument Hill Road. A forbidding sign warns drivers to "Travel at your own risk," but the road is in good shape for about 11 miles. At the point where the road almost reaches the saddle between Rattlesnake Mountain to the left and Pat O'Hara Mountain to the right, there is an intersection of sorts with an closed and gated road continuing straight (obviously unused for a long time), a gated road going left, and an open road (Red Grade Road) between them. Here there no less than seven or eight convoluted and misleading signs that attempt to explain the roads, including one at the front that states that travel beyond this point is allowed only with a wood-cutting permit and that there is no public land access. After careful research with the Forest Service, my climbing partner and I learned that this sign applies only to the road that continues left through the gate onto the BLM land on top of Rattlesnake. The Red Grade Road is open to the public and accesses the National Forest through an easement over private property; at this point the road becomes more difficult to travel, and 4WD is necessary in many places. The road crosses into the National Forest after 1.7 miles, and you will need to turn right at 2.3 miles and left at 2.7 miles from the beginning of Red Grade Road. After about 2.0 more miles take the right fork to reach the end of the road, which is gated to vehicle travel near Spout Springs.
Continue on the road on foot to the crest of the ridge just southwest of Pat O'Hara Mountain and follow the two-track trail along the ridge. According to Turiano's book Select Peaks of the Greater Yellowstone, this is known as the Damnation Trail, but there were two signs along the path that called it the Trout Peak Trail. This trail generally follows the ridge and goes up and down in a few spots as it tracks around and through several forested areas. When you reach the obvious pass on the northeast ridge at 9800 feet (marked with a rock cairn and a faded, unreadable sign) after about 7.0 miles, leave the trail and start heading south up the ridge.
This ridge is fairly steep, but it is not too strenuous. After reaching the first flat area, keep heading up, but start to bear right towards the knob on top of the ridge to your right. From here, continue along the ridge and begin the final climb up to the top of Robbers Roost. At the top of the ridge you will reach a prominent false summit, at which point the jagged rocks of the true summit come into view. Continue along to the left underneath the summit and find a route up the Class 2+/3 rocks to the highest point, which is about midway along the ridge.
Look for a summit register buried in the rocks on the south side of the summit; this register contains an entertaining narrative, as it was originally placed by someone who thought they were standing on the summit of Trout Peak, which, as discussed earlier, is an easy mistake to make. It mentions that a point 50 yards west might be higher, but after going to that point, I am pretty sure that the place where the register is located is the highest point.
Here is the complete transcript of the summit register (we were only the fifth party to sign it in the last four years):
Trout Peak 12244'
Pat Cole 7-23-05 Hiked from Pat O'Hara
Jay, Laurie, + Grubber 9/6/05 Nice views
(THIS IS NOT TROUT PEAK) this is Robbers Roost
"Robbers Roost" AKA East Trout
provisional photometric elevation 12,065 (from old datum)
it is probably a bit higher but true summit of this peak might be 50 yds west. Trout Peak is 1.5 miles west.
Register checked by Jay Pattyn, American Alpine Club 22 Jul 08
Riverton email@example.com on traverse from Trout Peak
1. Jim Pahl, 6-27-09 from Spout Springs
2. Tim Schoessler + Jan Kliewer 8-11-09 From Spout Springs on way to Trout Peak - traverse to Jim Creek TH
The total one way distance from Spout Springs to the summit of Robbers Roost is about 10.5 miles with 3600 feet of elevation gain.
Red TapeThere are no access fees for the Shoshone National Forest or the North Absaroka Wilderness. The roads to the Jim Creek TH and Spout Springs both have easements across private property, so be sure to stay on the road until you pass the forest boundary on either road. Read this page for more information regarding rules and regulations in the North Absaroka Wilderness.
This area has one of the most dense populations of grizzly bears found anywhere, and if you make this climb without seeing dozens of tracks and overturned rocks, you probably weren't looking hard enough! These bears go everywhere, including very high up; some of the tracks I saw were above 12,000 feet. Be sure to carry bear spray, and carrying an extra can might be a wise idea. Proper food storage rules apply to overnight stays in the Wilderness.
CampingCamping is not allowed within 50 feet of established trails in the North Absaroka Wilderness. There are generally a few snowbanks that linger throughout the year on Trout Peak that can be used as water sources, but be aware that if these are gone in the late summer, you may be thousands of feet above the nearest water source. Bring bear containers or rope to suspend your food off of rock ledges during the night; always practice Leave No Trace ethics when hiking and camping in this area.
External LinksInformation on the North Absaroka Wilderness: