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High on the Outdoors
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2030 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
Continuing on from my previous reports, this is the final installment of the Wyoming 13ers saga
July 31 - Mount Koven, Point 13180 and Flagstone Peak
The time had come for the crux peak of the whole trip. The granddaddy of them all; the one with the most technical climbing, and the one with just about the longest approach distance of any of the 13ers. In an effort to keep step-by-step beta for this peak from appearing on too many computer screens, I am going to take a Mox Peaks approach and just post some photos, leaving the mystery in the eye of the next person who finds themselves up there to solve (I am also getting tired of writing this monster of a report ) . I will say we climbed the south ridge/east face ledges route
If you really want some detailed beta, I posted a good route description on Summitpost for this, although I urge you to not spoil yourself before you go. If you're wondering why I even posted the SP page, it's because it provides the option for other climbers who can feel substantially less stressed by having the extra beta, and for those that don't want it they don't have to look.
We topped out by mid-morning having completed the last technical Wyoming 13er, and we still had plenty of daylight left. We enjoyed the views from this lowly perch with both Gannett to the south and Bastion to the north towering high above us. The summit register hadn't been signed in years, except for Eli just a few weeks before us. We made the descent and headed back to camp, packing up and continuing north towards the Grasshopper Glacier along what is part of the Wind River High Route, hiking around the east side of Bastion Peak. We found a flat place to camp just below the NE peak of Bastion, which has a very impressive wall. This camp would be the northernmost campsite for the trip.
We then loaded the day packs again and headed west into the wide basin north of Bastion Peak, and aimed for the small notch in the east ridge of Point 13,180 (AKA South Downs) ascending stable talus for about 600 feet from the basin. The final 50 feet or so along the ridgecrest to the summit had a few class 3 moves, but man we had really emerged into exceptionally more gentle terrain as soon as we left Koven. By mid afternoon we stood on top of my 28th 13er on the trip, and we weren't done for the day yet. We descended north into the next basin and traversed to the Flagstone/Pedestal saddle, and made the easy walk to the summit of Flagstone Peak via it's class 2 north ridge. The summit of this peak had the last summit register we would find on the trip. Eric continued up to tag Pedestal while I started down, since I had climbed Pedestal 9 years ago back in 2011 as part of this trip.
Instead of hiking back over Point 13180 on the way back, we just hiked down the second basin to the east, and down the ridge separating the two basins to one of two large lakes at the south terminus of the Grasshopper Glacier. The southern of these two lakes has deep blue water, and is where the ridge I descended dumped me, however there is also a northen lake that has aqua, milky green colored water, where a 50 foot high ice cliff towers above the north edge of the lake. Once I reached the lake, it was a short walk south back to the tents. Just before reaching the tent, I stopped to take some awesome photos of the NE peak of Bastion with the wildflowers that were framed so perfectly.
Twilight starting up the upper Gannett Glacier to Koven
East side of Koven
Sunrise from the Gannett Glacier
Gannett's northeast side
Sunrise on Koven
Sunrise on Gannett
Looking up the east face of Koven
Starting up the initial scramble on the end of the south ridge
View west from a notch in the ridge
Looking down the lower ridge
Eric making an exposed step
Gendarme on the crest with very exposed scrambling
Looking along the steep east face
Eric climbs a pitch
Final short pitch before summit
Bastion and Desolation looking north from summit
Gannett to the south
Desolation with Scott Lake below
Bastion Peak with Rampart Wall on right
Mammoth Glacier 13ers to the NW; the final peaks we'd do
Twin Peaks, Split, Whitecap and Ladd
Free hanging rappel
Back on the glacier
Nearing the NE peak of Bastion
Looking all the way back to West Sentinel Pass and Warren
Grashopper Glacier Lakes
Flagstone Peak from Point 13180
North side of Bastion Peak from Point 13180
Large lakes just west of Flagstone
Eric relaxing on Point 13180
Down in the next basin traversing to Flagstone
View down Tourist Creek
View south from Flagstone
View north towards Downs Mountain
View west from Flagstone
Gannett towering above everything else
Descending the broad basin
Ice cliff above milky lake below Grasshopper Glacier
Blue, southern lake I descended to
Bastion NE peak and flowers
August 1 - Klondike Peak, Pack over Bastion Peak and Desolation Peak
I slept in while Eric got a 4am start since he had to hike ALL the way north to Downs Mountain and Point 13062, peaks I thankfully tagged on my 2011 trip. It was a 19 mile round trip for him from our camp to summit these two easy class 2 talus heaps. I started at 7am and since I missed Klondike 9 years earlier, I still had to walk north a smaller distance and slog up this peak. This particular morning my knee was hurting the most, and I made slow progress on the mellow slopes to the summit, which was covered in a large snow cornice/wall thing. As I approached the upper slopes I saw Eric's crampon steps from a few hours earlier. I tagged every rock outcrop I could find on the summit plateau just in case, and really enjoyed reminiscing from my trip 9 years ago. From Klondike I was able to see almost all of the backcountry route we traversed back then, and had an excellent view down Tourist Creek, where we descended.
By noon I was back at the tents and sat on a cozy rock, ate some food and waited for Eric to get back. Around 2:30pm he arrived, and since clouds weren't building up that much we decided to keep going; packed up our big packs and started up towards Bastion. By this point the packs were less than 50 pounds, and getting more manageable, but it was still no picnic hiking up the steep talus on the north side of Bastion for just over 1000 feet. Luckily the little bit of cloud cover we had made the ascent up not super hot, and it even drizzled a little which was somewhat pleasant.
We dropped the packs just a few dozen feet below the highest point and tagged the summit. It was an interesting place up there, a large gentle summit plateau with a maybe 10 little rocky mounds almost making it maze-like. Adding to the allure of this high plateau is the fact that it's surrounded by huge cliffs on all sides, with only a couple small weaknesses allowing easy passage, one of which we had just ascended. The other main weak point allowing access to the Bastion summit plateau (which also includes unranked 13er Rampart) is the gully dropping to the west. This was our ticket back to the west side of the crest, and we were able to locate it after rounding all around the southern side of Rampart Peak (which isn't much more than a knob).
A narrow at first talus gully presented itself, which is not super visible from vantages to the north or south (we actually had some doubt it would exist since it wasn't visible from Gannett, or Flagstone), however a steep buttress hides this gully from view on both north and south sides. We began descending down, moving pretty slow due to my knee, but I knew if I got down this, there would be only one more hideous gully to descend with the packs before we hit trails again. We made it down 1000 feet to the 12260 foot Desolation Col, which involved plenty of loose crap. At the col, which few people ever venture to, the east ridge of Desolation was right above us. There was no beta for this route in the guidebook, but it looked very reasonable, and actually also looked super fun!
We dropped packs and started up, which immediately was an enjoyable solid scramble with airy exposure on both sides. The difficulty never exceeded class 4 on this ridge that rose 900 feet, and any time we ran into a more difficult section, it was a simple traverse slightly to the south side to bypass. About 2/3 of the way up the ridge, a thunderstorm was passing just south of us, dropping lots of rain on Gannett, Mamoth Glacier and Koven. We decided to sit under a small overhang on the east ridge for a few minutes just in case, but we never really got rained on, as the storm just barely missed us. It was soooo cool watching the lightning, and the storm from up close slowly glide over the crest and diminishing from view to the east. We commented how few people probably ever get to watch an alpine storm from high on an undocumented ridge on a very remote peak. It was a cool experience. After sitting for about 15 minutes we finished the scramble to the top.
The summit of Desolation Peak is also flat topped and square shaped, and has narrow ridges dropping on each of the 4 corners of the square. This gives the peak the appearance of a chopped off pyramid when viewed from Google Earth. We got some sunny weather return as we admired the view of the crest from Desolation, which is slightly removed from the divide to the west. There was again, no register. The scramble back down was efficient, and we saddled back up and descended south from the col down a narrow valley between Desolation and the west face of Rampart. We reached a tiny pond at 11400 feet, just below the milky glacial lake below the west face of Koven. We scouted a route down the south side of the waterfall draining the small pond, and about halfway down we crossed the stream to the north and was able to string together grassy ledges and slopes down to the long skinny lake at 10800 feet. We camped at the far east end of this amazing lake that was reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord! Just as we started to put the tents up, as it was getting dark and the sun had set it started raining, forcing us to scramble to get them up and race inside that we both had to cook dinner from the tents; the only night on the whole trip we did that.
Sunrise on Turret and Warren from my tent
Leaving camp for Klondike
Bastion NE Peak just above camp
Grasshopper Glacier ice cliff
Ascending the easy glacier ice just above the ice cliff
Broad saddle at head of Tourist Creek
View north from summit of Klondike
Looking down Tourist Creek from the summit of Klondike
Klondike summit snow
Klondike upper slopes
Back at our camp to relax while Eric finished from Downs
Point 13180 from the north slopes of Bastion
Little bit of drizzle to the north
Gannett and the very top of Koven poking through from Bastion
Eric happy to have done Bastion Peak
Bastion NE peak from its other side
Walking around Rampart Peak
Crossing the divide back to the west side
A look down the gully we descended
Goodbye east side
Desolation from the gully, east ridge dropping towards us
Lakes to the north of Desolation
Starting up the east ridge
Gannett from the NW
A storm passes by just south of us
West face of Gannett and Koven from Desolation
Koven sits right behind Eric
West face of Flagstone
Hiking down the valley south of Desolation Col
Glacial lake just below Koven
Camp down there
Scrambling down the waterfall
Sunset over Long Skinny Lake (yes that's actually its name!)
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High on the Outdoors
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2030 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
August 2 - West Twin, Split, and Whitecap; Pack all the way to Shannon Pass
The next morning, since we didn't get to sleep until after dark we agreed to start 30 minutes later at 6am to catch some extra sleep, plus we were beginning to slightly notice the shorter days beginning at 5:30 every day. We continued hiking cross country southward, over a small ridge and to the icy toe of the Massive Mammoth Glacier. We continued right, bypassing the bare ice where the edge of the glacier met the moraine and rocky slabs until we were more or less level with the main body of the glacier, and found a nice rocky perch to store the packs for awhile. We took a quick rest to snack and for me to fill water (since I certainly wasn't carrying any when we had the packs), and put our day packs together. We continued walking up the very low angle Mammoth Glacier, all the way back to the saddle between the Twin Peaks. Since we were informed that West Twin could possibly be higher than East Twin, we decided we might as well tag it as well, since it didn't add much time to go back to that saddle from the north and scramble the 150 foot class 3 ridge.
While we were there, I did some rudimentary tests to try and determine which of the two was taller, and couldn't make a difinitive solution. I described my tests on my Twin Peaks page on Summitpost that I wrote if you're curious.
We descended back from the saddle onto the Mammoth once again, and circled around and made an ascending traverse heading up lower angle snow to the west side of Split Mountain to the broad saddle at the base of Split's class 2 west ridge. This saddle can apparently also be accessed from the south via Peak Lake up that basin as well. On both of my big Wind River trips, we never found made it in that valley above Peak Lake nor did we ever head over Knapsack Col...we didn't really find it as a useful pass despite how popular, and simple it is to use it to connect back to Titcomb Basin.
From the broad saddle, it was easy talus hopping up the somewhat steep west ridge to the summit. This was was nice because there were no false summits...the west ridge went from steep, to summit with no BS. Knowing we still had a long way to go, we didn't stay long and ran/glissaded back to our pack stash, ate a lunch (I cooked some of my extra oatmeal) and continued packing west over three lateral moraines. The first was one from the Mammoth Glacier while the next two were dumped from the now mostly gone Baby Glacier. We rounded the south side of the unnamed lake at 11260 feet, then ascended steeply up the initial slopes towards Stone Pillar Pass. I actually had to climb a class 4 chimney to get up a small cliff band onto steep grassy slopes above, since we didn't want to ascend the 45 degree rotting snow just to the left. We then followed ledges, switchbacking up to the north of the slabby terrain that guards the lower slopes below Stone Pillar Pass. We found quite a few cairns as well, but it would be hard to routefind your way down this route without having done it before.
At 11900 feet, the terrain eased up considerably, and we finally reached the pass, dropped packs again, and started up the NW ridge of Mount Whitecap. This route was actually one of the more interesting ridges of the trip, but was not super high quality. The crux was climbing the 40 foot icy snow patch on the very first part of the route, which ascended up to a wide, open-top tunnel like feature with a short towering cliff on both sides. Once through this, we continued scrambling on the right (south) side of the crest bypassing some towers/cliffs on the ridge. The route was kind of a pick your own adventure for most of it, with difficulty ranging from class 2+ to class 4, with better rock on the class 4 options. A subsiduary ridge dropped off to the right (southeast), and just above that we regained the main crest of the NW ridge. Here a couple mandatory 4th class moves were required to reach the small summit area, which included a small crack filled slab with a notch descent, then a 9-10 foot near vertical step, but with good holds. After those two obstacles it was an easy stroll to the top.
From this vantage, we had an excellent view of Bow Mountain; my only remaining 13er! I was getting pretty stoked to be nearly done, and in just over 12 hours I would become the 3rd public finisher of the WY 13ers. I snapped some good photos since the mid afternoon light was getting pretty good, but we still had a long way to go, having to descend all the way to Stonehammer Lake, then back up to Shannon Pass before we could camp.
Descending back to the packs was a breeze, but descending down the west side of Stone Pillar Pass with the packs was again slow going with my knee, plus the rock and scree was real loose. A flat grassy basin was reached down at 11050 feet which would have been a gorgeous place to camp, but we continued on, descending steepening talus which increased in boulder size as we dropped to Stone Hammer Lake. We even ran into some Cascades-type bushwhacking down a steep, narrow wet vegetation filled gully using veggie belays and getting swarmed by mosquitos for about 150 feet. This would be the only bushwhacking we did on the trip...and arriving at Stonehammer Lake we saw the first trees we had seen since day 3!
An unexpected difficulty followed after we reached the lakeshore, which was the rediculous house sized boulders we had to navigate through as we traversed around the east side of Stonehammer Lake. This was very slow going, and often requiring more class 3 scrambling with exposure in the form of death holes with dark bottoms that could not be seen We were happy to be through that when we reached more grassy terrain on the final hike back up to Peak Lake, where we saw a handful of parties camped. One such party was no ne other than Doug Walsh, and another past Bulger finisher. They too were out in the Winds climbing some 13ers, although not quite doing them all. What were the odds at having 4 Bulger finishers run into each other inthe middle of the Winds! It was super cool running into them, and we chatted a bit about our respective trips.
Since the sun was close to setting, and we still had to hike over Shannon Pass we continued on, now reaching an actual trail! We felt like we just entered a major city haha. The trail up to Shannon Pass was quick, and just a half mile or so on the south side, where a wide expanse of open terrain was found just below Bow Mountain we set up camp in twilight. By the time I had dinner cooked it was dark, however we still wanted to start at 5:30 the last morning to ensure we could hike all the way out and make it to Burger Barn in Pinedale before they closed. This ended up being one of the longest days, and the most mileage we did with the packs other than the deproach the following day.
Sunrise from Long Skinny Lake
Split and the Twins above Mammoth Glacier
Icy glacier toe
Traversing around the bare icy toe
Desolation from the south
Twin Peaks straight ahead
My line of sight test on West Twin (See my SP page)
Sphinx and East Twin
Woodrow Wilson towering above behind East Twin
Titcomb and Summer Ice Lakes from West Twin
Looking back at Gannett
At the saddle west of Split
Bastion, Koven, Gannett from SW
Twin Peaks from Split Mountain
A rare profile view of Koven
Mount Whitecap from Split
Bow from Split
Traversing below Baby Glacier
What remains of the Baby Glacier
Unnamed lake below Stone Pillar Pass
Whitecap from Stone Pillar Pass
Whitecap; little snowpatch just right of center was crux
Tunnel like feature just above the snowpatch
View south from Whitecap
Gannett with Glacier pass just right
Bow Mountain (R) and Arrowhead (L); my last 13er
Eric on Whitecap
Eric DCing one of the class 4 bits
Eric DCing the snowpatch
View of the crap we descended from Stone Pillar
My favorite flowers
Beautiful alpine basin below Stone Pillar
Stonehammer Lake coming into view
Stonehammer Lake...and whatever those taller green things are
Stroud Peak reflection
Sunset on Peak Lake
Shannon Pass at sunset
Sunset on unnamed 12ers between Titcomb and Jean Lakes
August 3 - Bow Mountain, hike out
The last morning was upon us! At 5:30am again we started the short ascent up the SW slopes of Bow Mountain which was only a 2000 feet above. Another talus gully was ascended to the west ridge, intersecting it at a notch directly to the SE of Brinstone Mountain. Then a short class 3 zone on the ridge opened up to a third of a mile or so boulder hop to the summit which we reached around 7am. I stood on top of Bow Mountain at 7:04am on August 3rd to finish the Wyoming 13ers, and had Eric take a photo of me...the only photo showing my ugly face in this whole report
We enjoyed the early morning light, and admired the gnarly looking traverse to Arrowhead from Bow, which actually looked like an incredible alpine traverse perhaps mid 5th class...something to maybe come back to! Unfortunately my second camera battery died right before we reached the summit, so I didn't get any camera photos from the very top but Eric grabbed a few for me.
By 9:20am after descending back, we were packed up and started hiking out...ok I lied, there's one more photo of me jumping across a creek on the hike out on Jean Lakes Trail, because I was far too lazy to take my shoes off. Even more maddening was that 5 minutes later the trail crossed back to the other side of the creek with seemingly no reason whatsoever to even have bothered to cross at all. Some cloudcover made the first third of the hike out enjoyable, but once we reached Fremont Crossing the sun burned through and we had a hot hike back. We really entered the city now as we passed quite a few groups headed in. We made it back to Burger Barn by 6pm ad I ate a triple cheeseburger and two large Oreo ice cream shakes in virtually no time at all, and left the place still hungry! Eric got a motel in Pinedale and was nice enough to let me shower before I started back. He continued on to Montana and finished the Montana 12ers while I hung up the boots to let my knee recover.
Upon returning home, I weighed myself and was aghast to find out I had lost 20 pounds
It took me 8 years to be able to maintain my 205 pound weight, and in 3 weeks I was down to 184 (and I cannot aford to ever lose weight!).
Twilight as we leave camp
Stroud Peak from the other side
Sunrise as we reach the west ridge
A short class 3 section above the notch
Mount Arrowhead looks so cool
Looking down the west ridge with Brinstone at the end
Eric framed perfectly (this was the last photo my battery allowed my camera to take)
Myself standing on Bow Mountain, my final WY 13er
Myself on Bow looking the other way
Too lazy to take my shoes off...
Some final notes for the trip:
This was a new record for me for the longest amount of time I was in the backcountry without returneing to my car or any form of civilization. Previously, that record was held by my 12.5 day trip into the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, exploring the Arrigetch Peaks area.
We only used ropes for 3 of the peaks; Spearhead, Woodrow Wilson and Koven.
We collectively agreed that the hardest 5 Wyoming 13ers, in the conditions we encountered were in this order:
1. Mount Koven - Class 5.3
2. Spearhead Pinnacle - Class 5.3
3. Mount Woodrow Wilson - Class 5.1
4. Turret Peak - Class 5.0
5. Sacajawea Peak - Class 4
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