The Tourist Creek route was chosen since it is more suitable for a solo climb (no crevasses, no technical terrain).
I had done the approach via Tourist Creek and descent via Wells Creek in 2008, so I was familiar with the route. The Wells Creek was out since it's just too difficult based on prior experience.
1. Left the trailhead at Green River lakes at 7:00.
2. Hit the point on the Highline Trail directly across from the mouth of Tourist Creek at 11:00.
3. Arrived at the north end of the lake under Mount Solitude at 14:00. This is the lake at Tourist/Wells divide.
4. Arrived at the high camp on the shore of Skinny Lake (the lake above Scott Lake) at 15:30.
1. Started hiking up at 6:30.
2. Hit the summit at 9:30.
3. Returned to base camp at 12:00.
4. Started hiking out at 13:30.
5. Hit the Highline Trail at 18:30.
6. Arrived at the trailhead at 23:55.
Here's the KMZ file of the track
. The file can be opened in Google Earth and other tools.
There is a great trip report that shows a bypass of Scott Lake, described here:
This saves some distance and elevation loss/gain. This also trades bushwacking willows for hopping talus.
When going up to Minor Glacier from Skinny Lake ascend the right feeder creek. The left creek feeding the lake is a longer approach and leads to a large lake not shown on maps. The route is not as steep as it looks and you can get around the cliff band on the right hand side.
Minor Glacier has no crevasses to speak of. It's very low angle. Crampons were nice but not mandatory (I used them on ascent but not on descent).
The couloir that takes you to the col on the north ridge was completely melted out. A rubble fest.
The "climb on the north ridge" is in fact a short (about one roped pitch) scramble up a headwall. No rope needed when rock is dry and there's no snow. Different conditions may change this. Downclimb was not a big deal either.
The last portion of the ridge (50 yards or so) I chose not to do and instead donned crampons and ascended a short snow slope.
All in all, crampons and axe were helpful but not mandatory.
The Tourist Creek ascent: there is a faint game trail with some cairns going up from the river. There is a spot where Green River is only 4 inches deep. Without looking too long it's thigh deep.
The hike out in the dark on Highline Trail was a death march.
I chose two days with a perfect weather forecast to increase chances of success and make it safer for a solo hiker. The National Weather Service forecast
is a great resource, see "forecast discussion" link for more details.
It was noticeably warmer and less windy than the altitude would suggest (5F per 1000 feet) (comparing to Green River Lakes campground).
Have not seen a single mosquito.
The Green River valley is absolutely amazing, not to be missed.
This is not the best route to Gannett. Once you leave the Highline Trail there's no walking. All the rest 6-7 miles is rock hopping. You will be on talus and rubble 100% of the time. There's no easy ground. Perhaps when there's more snow in the west face couloirs the ascent would be more enjoyable. As it was, the route is for those looking for punishment (I am still glad I did it, but buyer beware). I suspect the east side routes although longer are easier.
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