OverviewWind River Peak is a Wyoming thirteener. It is the highest and most massive peak in the south half of the Wind River Range. A dominant landmark of the region, it is the highest peak viewed by hikers approaching the very popular Cirque of Towers and the most identifiable peak to regional residents (mainly due to Surveyor's Notch, visible from both sides of the range). Its first recorded ascent was by Hayden Survey topographer A.D. Wilson, in 1877, shortly after Wyoming became a territory. Due to its size, elevation and position, the surveyors made it the namesake peak of the range. Walkup routes are possible from most directions (all involving a day's approach trek to the base) but several technical routes have also been accomplished on the mountain's numerous granite headwalls. Though it is a 'hikable' Wyoming 13er, the routes are long and usually requiring a full day from camp. Climbers are rewarded with a view that includes mountains, glaciers, plains, deserts and, when clear, as far as the Uintas. The peak is relatively popular and is visited by hikers and mountaineers as well as goat and llama packers.
Getting There - Roads1) For eastern approaches, the Louis Lake Loop road (#131) from Lander through Sinks Canyon is followed for 17 miles to the Worthen Meadows road which ends at the trailhead.
Summer 2007. This road is receiving a long belated (and abbreviated) paving project - expect delays and closures during daylight hours on the switchbacks.
2) The Big Sandy Opening is used for the northwestern approach.
3) For the southern approaches, leave Highway 28 at the crest of South Pass (on the continental divide) just west of the Sweetwater River crossing. Follow the divide-straddling road and signs 25 miles to the Sweetwater trailhead. This is also the route taken to Big Sandy from Lander/Casper.
RegulationsThe west side is managed by the Bridger Wilderness and National Forest. The east side is managed by the Popo Agie Wilderness of Shoshone National Forest. Wilderness regulations apply for camp locations, group size, campfire restrictions and ethics. There are no permit requirements in this section of these two wildernesses. Roads can remain closed until early June. Fee-based campgrounds exist at all trailheads.
SeasonsSummer 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. Wind River Peak has been successfully skinned and skied from winter to early June.
Mountain ConditionsThe Lander webcam can illustrate the approach weather. The Pinedale webcam (though pointing at the northern Wind River Range) can give an idea of the weather on the divide.
- The latest goverment survey lists the elevation as 13,197' (4022m)
- It is the 21st highest in Wyoming and the 20th highest in the Winds
- The peak, visible for many miles to travelers on the Emigrant/Oregon Trail, was a dominant landmark for a week's travel and shows up in many of their historical journals as the "Snowy Mountain" or "Great Snow Peak"
- 'Popo Agie' is a French-phonetic spelling of a Crow (native tribe) word and is pronounced "po-po-zsha"
- Wind River's tandem peak, Little El Capitan (12825'), is the fourth highest in the southern Winds. The SE face, directly across the v-notch, is the sheerest face, rising 700' from the glacier. It contains a route at V, 5.10 A2. (1asc Robert McGown and Jeff Alzner, 8/91)
- Surveyors Notch, between this peak and Lil El Cap, makes the peak identifiable from as far as 60 miles distant from the east or west. Some locals simply call it "The V".
- Wind River Peak has over 2000' of prominence and is over 40 miles from a higher peak
- The Wind River, whose name was given to this range and peak, officially changes it's name to 'Bighorn River' at the mouth of Wind River Canyon. It is a tributary of the Yellowstone
- The Wind River itself was named by the Crow tribe who had noticed the frequent wind in the basin. Groups would occasionally endure the frigid winters in the basin by lodging near the Washakie Hot Springs.
Sources/BibliographyTuriano, Thomas (2003). Select Peaks; Indomitus Books, Jackson, WY.
Bonney, O.H. (1977). Guide to the Wyoming Mountains, 3rd Ed.; Swallow Press. Chicago,IL.