Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 14, 2006
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer

Atop Wyoming's Tallest

Gooseneck Glacier - Dinwoody Glacier

On my first trip to the Wind River Range, a few things stood out to me. I was surprised by the vast amount of people using the trail system out of the Elkhart Park trail into the Titcomb Basin area, the sheer amount of named pinnacles and mountains in the Gannett area, and the fact that there was a paved road all the way to the trailhead at nearly 10,000 feet. Additionally, there were so many lakes and smoothed granite outcroppings on the approach hike, it was reminiscent of the area north of Yosemite, particularly the Carson - Iceberg Wilderness region. The work of glaciers was so prevalent in not only the smoothing and lakes, but also in the Erratics: lone boulders left behind in strange and interesting spots.  Some of these 2-ton boulders were perfectly on top of smaller rocks, clearly the beautiful work of nature.

Gannett Snow Climb

We headed out from the Boise, Idaho region and made our way over toward Pinedale, WY. To my surprise, the Wind River Range is not much further from our area than the Tetons.  I've been climbing the Tetons for years, but given the wilderness restrictions, backcountry crowds, and the tourist trap money pit known as Jackson Hole it's good to discover an alternative climbing area in Wyoming. The town of Pinedale, just outside of the Winds has a distinct cowboy feel to it. It was larger than I envisioned, but not completely over-run with National Park visitors. We followed the paved road to the Elkhart Park Trailhead above Fremont Lake and slept at the trailhead.  For those traveling from lower elevations this would be a good acclimatization strategy. During the middle of the night a loud thunderstorm with downpour rolled through the area.  At least one lightning strike was on the nearby ridgeline.  This would be the last of any chance of precipitation for our trip.

Goosenck Glacier

We met our friends and headed out onto the trail. My pack felt particularly heavy with several days of food and climbing gear in it. I've been used to lightweight climbing packs and long day assaults on 2 or 3 day peaks. Gannett would be different though, and for a change it was good to have a few backcountry "luxuries" and actually camp in the backcountry. The trail starts out forested with a few open meadows with the first area of note being the Photographer's Point area.  Near here, we got our first views of the Gannett area and surrounding 13,000 foot peaks. Past Barbara Lake, Hobbs Lake, Sapphire Lake we reached the impressively large Seneca Lake and rested on one of the many small rock "chairs". The mosquitoes weren't too bad yet at this point and as we snaked around Little Seneca Lake. We were entering the realm of  "beyond day hikers" as the nature of the terrain was a series of ups and downs over small passes and into beautiful lake basins.

Northwest of Gannett

From a random sampling of conversations, it was apparent that the area attracts not only Gannett climbers, but also general backpackers, fisherman, day hikers, trail runners, and those utilizing the pack animals. One way to get your equipment to the backcountry is to hire a mule team to carry it while you hike in with a lightweight pack. We passed Mt. Lester, a peak that dominates the view to the south from the Titcomb Basin. Another gorgeous lake in Island Lake is one of the last before the Titcomb Basin is reached.  The decision was made to camp in lower Titcomb instead of upper Titcomb so that there would be a slightly longer summit day with a lighter pack rather than going the full 17.5 miles with the big pack. Still, 15 miles with this weight was a good day.

Glacier Travel on Gannett

The next morning we woke around 2am and got a good start on
the summit bid. Once the base of Bonney Pass was reached, we put on the
cramp-ons and stepped our way to the pass.  The slope is mellow and in July
you can utilize the snow the whole way. At Bonney Pass we had our first
views of Gannett as the sun came up. The northwest side of Bonney Pass was
half snow, half scree as we descended onto the Dinwoody Glacier. The
glacier was in great shape and mostly closed up so we trudged ahead un-roped at
our own paces. The slopes leading to the Gooseneck Glacier presented no
difficulty and the steepest part was at the bergshrund about 300 feet beneath
the Gooseneck Pinnacle and ridgeline.  There was a short 6 foot section of
almost vertical snow followed by a steep snow slope above, but the steps were
perfect as we gained the ridgeline. The ridgeline snaked north, then east
to the summit ridge. A few exposed, but very safe areas led to the summit
at a cluster of rocks where an enormous summit canister contained a summit
log. The views were particularly impressive down the north side of the
peak and the Tetons were visible in the distance.  The descent presented
only one problem and that was above the bergshrund where rap anchors can be
utilized. The webbing is set up so that a double rope rappel will take you
past the steepest parts. This section is also down climbable for those
comfortable with this during optimal snow conditions.  We reached the camp
late that afternoon at a very relaxed pace and hiked out the next day.

Approaching Titcomb basin


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Viewing: 1-3 of 3

hkutuk - Jul 21, 2006 4:15 pm - Voted 10/10

Nice report

Looks beatiful especially in early season. Sounds like you didn't need to rope up on the glacier. I hear you about heavy packs with gear, nice job!

The Vor

The Vor - Jul 24, 2006 7:14 pm - Voted 9/10

nice write up

Looks like you chose the right time to climb. That sounds like a long day comig from the titcomb side. I was planning on climbing from east side the same time you were there, but trip fell apart. Congrats on summit and good TR.

david  stewart

david stewart - Aug 30, 2010 8:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Great shots

nice pictures. I really like your shots of all the glaciers.

Viewing: 1-3 of 3