This striking mountain sits on the western side of the unnamed pass marked 10895 on the Glacier Trail in the Wind River Range of Wyoming; it looks out over some absolutely spectacular country that typifies the beauty and majesty of what is arguably the state's greatest mountain range. Talus Mountain is made up of a massive pile of boulders that stretches up into a cone 800 feet above the pass; the west side plunges down 2200 feet to East Torrey Creek in only a half of a mile. The view southwest from the summit looks into Bomber Basin and Bomber Lake with Spider Peak and Downs Mountain rising up in the distance, and the stunning and nearly vertical 2000+ foot east face of Torrey Peak looms less than a mile away to the west.
Like many summits in this and other ranges in Wyoming, this peak has no official name. The name Talus Mountain appears in the book Guide to the Wyoming Mountains and Wilderness Areas by Orrin and Lorraine Bonney, who were two of the early Wyoming climbing pioneers. Climbing Talus Mountain is a great outing to do in a day; this is unusual in the Wind River Range, considering that most peaks here require multi-day approaches. It can also be combined with Arrow Mountain and/or Peak 11696 to the east as part of a long day hike.
East Face of Torrey Peak - photo by Bob Sihler
Getting There and Climbing Information
A little less than 4 miles east of Dubois, WY on highway 26, turn south onto Fish Hatchery Road. Take the left fork and continue for a little over 8 miles to the Trail Lake Trailhead on the edge of the Fitzpatrick Wilderness. It is about 30 minutes from downtown Dubois to the parking area at the trailhead.
Near the bridge on the Glacier Trail
Ford of Torrey Creek on the Old Glacier Trail - photo by Bob Sihler
There are two ways to reach Talus Mountain. Follow the Whiskey Mountain Trail out of the west end of the parking lot for a short distance up the switchbacks to the split, where you will take the Glacier Trail via the left fork. This trail descends to a bridge across some falls on Torrey Creek before following the creek for a while. Eventually the trail forks; turn left again and head up the switchbacks to the plateau under Arrow Mountain where the trail intersects with the Old Glacier Trail.
A slightly shorter and more scenic route is to follow the Old Glacier Trail, which leaves from the east side of the trailhead. The first thing to do is to ford Torrey Creek, which was a dicey, fast-moving, and waist-deep wade when Bob Sihler and I did it in late June of 2009. This wouldn't be a bad option in the late summer, but early in a high runoff year like 2009, I would recommend avoiding it (read Bob's comments on the picture). This trail begins with switchbacks and gets you up high quickly, affording great views of the Absarokas to the north and the nearby peaks in the Winds.
Talus Mountain is visible from miles away off to the right of the trail, and looks like a pyramid with jagged bumps down the right ridgeline. From a distance, it looks like the climb will be a scree slog, but it becomes obvious as you approach the mountain that it is made up of sizable boulders; the size of these rocks increases the higher up you go on the peak. It is possible to pick your way up from pretty much any direction except the west side. From the north or south the climb is more gradual, but the east side is the steeper and more direct approach. Bob and I climbed from the south after taking in view towards Bomber Lake from the saddle between Talus Mountain and the rise up to Goat Flat. I would recommend traveling the extra distance to this point to anyone who is in this area, as it is one of the most amazing panoramas I have ever seen.
On the climb
Bob on the summit ridge
While climbing the boulders, enjoy looking at some of the hundreds of spiderwebs that are placed between the rocks. This feature is shared with the mountain next to Bomber Lake, whose proliferation of arachnids led to it being named Spider Peak. The summit is a boulder that is about eight feet tall and is easy to climb.
The total distance from the trailhead to the summit via the Old Glacier Trail is 6.6 miles with 4100 feet of elevation gain. Add a few more tenths of a mile if you take the Glacier Trail. Most of this is a Class 1 trail, but the mountain itself is about 800-1000 feet of Class 2+/3 scrambling, depending which face you take to the top.
Summit view toward Downs Mountain
There are no fees to hike in this area. This is grizzly country, so be prepared, know food storage regulations, and carry bear spray. Encounters with other wildlife like mountain lions are possible as well.
Absaroka Range from the Old Glacier Trail
There is no camping within 100 feet of lakes or streams and, as stated above, observe proper food storage rules. Practice Leave No Trace ethics to preserve this area for future generations.