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High on the Outdoors
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2049 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
This report continues from my previous report: Wyoming 13ers Slam 2020 Part 3 of 5 - Indian and Titcomb Basin 13ers July 21-26, 2020
July 27 - Gannett Peak
After we successfully packed well over 50 pounds of stuff up and over Bonney Pass, we woke the following morning and wanted an easier day. Just doing Gannett Peak sounded like a good plan to keep things light. So at 5:30am we were up and starting on the standard Gooseneck Glacier route. We saw a few other parties already starting up the route who were camped at the standard Dinwoody Moraine camp just north of ours. We quickly caught up with them and passed about 8 people within an hour of leaving camp. As we started to get closer to the infamous crux bergschrund crossing, we caught up to a group of 12 from the Central Wyoming College all hanging out in the bergschrund wait their tunrs to climb up on a fixed line. We were able to cut around them to the left and easily walk up snow that filled the whole left half of the bergschrund in. It appeared to likely stay completely filled for at least another couple weeks. Just above the schrund, we passed right by Gooseneck Pinnacle, and even saw slings around it from past parties who decided it was a worthwhile side trip (it involved about 15-20 feet of easy climbing up to I guessed 5.4).
We then scrambled on the rocky ridge for a bit to take a break from the snow, occationally making a class 3 move. As we neared the upper summit snowfield, we passed one final party and made quick time traversing the summit ridge, which went at an easy and low angle snow walk at the snow/rock ridge interface just a few feet below the crest following many other footprints. We saw a solo hiker below us to the south quickly ascending the upper part of the northern arm of Dinwoody Glacier, aiming directly for Pinnacle Ridge. We both immediately knew who it was as the guy we had been following on all the Wyoming 13ers. Considering it was a Sunday, which he only had weekends available and the fact that literally no one climbs Pinnacle Ridge we knew it was him. We wondered if he would be coming up Gannett next, and it didn't take long for us to get our answer.
We reached the summit shortly before 8am and were the first ones up for the day, despite being one of the last ones to leave the Dinwoody Moraine. We both relaxed on the summit for 45 minutes since we didn't have any other objectives planned for the day and admired the view of all the peaks we had already climbed well off to the south, and scouted out the remaining ones we still had left. Eric had actually already climbed Gannett but he repeated it in order to get the FKT for them all. To my astonishment, Koven was still not visible from the summit of Gannett, leaving us still wondering about this elusive peak. Gannett does a spectacular job of hiding it! Directly below us to the west, over 2000 feet down lay the upper Wells Creek basin, and we were able to see our future route on Desolation Peak and the descent to Long Skinny Lake.
We started down just as another party of two was about to summit and we traded spots. 10 minutes later we ran into Eli, who was headed up Gannett which his dad had joined him for as well which was super awesome. We briefly chatted about our current progress and continued on. It sounded like I would probably be able to finish the list as the 3rd completer, since I had already completed all the remaining outlier 13ers. The race was on lol. Unfortunately on the way down from Gannett, my right knee decided it was time to start hurting, something I really had never experienced before. Basically a dull pain when pulling the leg forward, or when lowering myself on the right leg when going down steep terrain. Luckily simply weighting it never was an issue, nor was weighting it to go uphill. We knew the following day was going to be a bad weather rest day so I hoped that would take care of it.
It was a relaxing afternoon enjoying looking up at the towering walls all around us and eating copious amounts of food. It did rain briefly in the evening, and our weather forecast arrived right on time and was slated to be even worse than we had been informed before. Rain all day during the night and all the next day! We braced ourselves for 36 hours of being tent bound. Overall, it was ironic that the Wyomings highest peak ended up being the easiest day on our trip other than the rest day. We were up and down at a leisurly pace with a 45 minute summit stay in less than 5 hours, and we still passed everyone on the route.
July 28 - Rest day (Bad weather)
It quite literally rained all that night and apart from two short breaks, it rained all day as well. We were worried about any snowfall that would coat the top of Turret which would make the ascent of Turret the following day even harder than we were already anticipating it to be. We got a break in the rain to emerge for both lunch and dinner, and just hoped for the best the next morning for no snow since all the summits were socked in all day and not visible.
July 29 - Turret, Sunbeam and Febbas
At 5:30am we were off once again under a low cloud cover. Our forecast from the previous evening still called for afternoon thunderstorms and morning clouds, which didn't really help our bid for one of the longer days we would have on the whole trip. We decided to try it anyway, and started up towards Backpackers Pass. Getting to this pass is trivial enough, except that the 900 foot narrow talus gully was probably the worst talus we encountered on the trip. Large microwave sized rounded rocks were all very unstable and seemed ready to slide on top of you at any moment. We never strayed below one another and each ascended one side of the gully. Thinking light...even levitating thoughts were cricial not to have one of these boulders roll on top of me as soon as I would touch it. By 7am we made it to the pass though, and were less than 100 feet below the bottom of the cloud deck. We were unsure what lie in the clouds, however we were thrilled that it was fairly warm and humid given the situation, so we had a good feeling the summits did not receive snow.
We decided to give it a try up the north ridge of Turret, and pretty quickly entered the whiteout. This route is the easiest route on Turret and also allows you to combine it with Sunbeam and Febbas, so obviously it was our route of choice. The lower end of the north ridge however was guarded by an impressive cliff that we somehow had to ascend around. We spotted a pretty wide ledge leading towards the base of this cliff, and figured we would scout to find a potential way around its west side. Keep in mind we had virtually no beta for this route, and we were going to try and climb it in a whiteout, which may have been possible if not for the slabby, lichen covered rock that was still wet making the climbing nearly death defying given how much exposure we started to find ourselves above. In addition to that we could only see about 30 feet away in the thick low clouds...Eric and I both commented "oh great, we are back in the Cascades!"
After making an attempt to find a route around the west side of the lower cliff (which is about 120 feet tall I'll add), I ended up on downward sloping, lichen covered wet slabs that were as bad as being covered in black ice with huge cliffs below me. I did not want to go any further and we bailed back to Backpackers Pass for the time being, dropping just barely out of the clouds as we descended 200 feet back to the pass. We discussed what to do, and considering the past experiences I've had in the mountains, I suggested we simply wait at the pass as long as it takes until Turret becomes climbable, or it starts getting dark since neither of us wanted to have to repeat coming up Backpackers Pass (it was kind of THAT bad). After all it wasn't even 8am yet, and the days are long. Eric agreed, and we found comfy spots to lie down out of the wind and wait.
Slowly, the clouds thinned out, and rose in altitude, and by 10am they were above the summit of Turret. The sun popped out for brief moments and was able to shine some warm light on the rocks...as some water vapor was visibally coming off the cliff faces we cheered! At 10:30am we decided to try again. This time, we would try going up the steep looking gully that was just to the left (east) side of the cliff and appeared to meet the north ridge just at its top. I started up, scrambling into the gully, which quickly turned into 4th class climbing. A narrow snow and ice finger remained in the gully and required me to remain climbing on the right side of the gully on slabby terrain. The crux of the gully was a single low 5th class large step across on a wet narrow downsloping ledge to bypass and get above a big chockstone in the gully. Below this committing step was the steep ice 30 feet down. I managed to make the step but Eric didn't like it so he returned to our original path trying to go around the west side. I yelled down from the top of the gully which did indeed reach the north ridge and successfully got above the low cliff and that the route eased up considerably from there. I descended some lower angle class 2 talus on the backside of the cliff to its west edge to help Eric routefind. Right before the terrain dropped very steeply down the big NW face, I cut around a small rib and saw Eric pop around along the base of the cliff.
I spotted the best way for him to traverse to where I was standing which involved stringing together a series of narrow ledges providing just barely enough passage on the downward sloping slabs, which had dried somewhat but not completely from our earlier attempt. The crux was again, a one move wonder of low 5th class up a five foot step requiring a handjam to surmount with deathly exposure. Once he got up it was smooth sailing as we walked up easy boulders on the upper west face, keeping 10-25 feet below the crest of the north ridge. We reached the ridgecrest where it narrowed in a 50 foot long horizontal narrow section which ended in a small notch. From this small notch just 140 feet below the summit, we finished the ascent on the left (east) side of the ridge scrambling class 3 terrain to the top. We were pretty elated to have made it up, but there was still a lot of clouds above us, and the thunderstorm chances were high for the day. We admired the view looking at the sub-summits just south of us which looked tricky to navigate around, and would definitely make me pretty frustrated to have to finish the ascent having to traverse around these towers when I wasn't expected to like Sarah had to do after climbing the SW buttress.
We opened the register (there were 3 actually, but only one is in decent condition and active) and saw a very low list of climbers reach this peak. We didn't stay long and opted to get down as fast as possible in case it started raining. Luckily though, it cleared out a little and we actually got some sun on the descent back to Backpackers Pass. We both opted to take the original option to get back below the low cliff, downclimbing the 5 foot step. The slabby rocks had mostly dried by this point making it way easier. DOwnclimbing that large step I ascended in the other gully would have been much harder.
Sunrise as we begin the ascent
Turret and Warren
Sunrise on Gooseneck Pinnacle above
Ascending gentle slopes
Summit snowfield above
Woodrow Wilson and Pinnacle Ridge
Turret and Warren to the SE
Eric happy nearing the summit
Wells drainage below with Scott Lake at center
View north towards Bastion and Desolation
Whitecap and Ladd to the SW
The summit register was a joke...all trash
Turret and Warren
Beginning the hike down on the "trail"
Upper snowfield on Gannett
Looking at the lower route with Gooseneck Pinnacle
Tarns on the Dinwoody moraine by our camp
Northern arm of the Dinwoody coming down
West Sentinel, and the continuation of our pack route
While we had the weather on our side, we wasted no time starting up the other side of Backpackers Pass and scrambling the south ridge towards Sunbeam. This route had too many back and forths to describe in full detail here, but the idea is that when in doubt, stay as close to the ridgecrest as you can. There were lots of inviting looking traverses that led well off of the crest, but it was best to make the class 3 and 4 scrambles to stay as close as possible, only deviating slightly to avoid 5th class towers or steps. The crux of the ridge is the final 150 feet, where a headwall guards the summit. We spotted what looked like a viable 3rd class bypass well off to the left by descending 50 feet into a loose looking gully, but I didn't want to do that, and was able to climb directly up the headwall, terminating directly on top. There may have been a move or two of low 5th climbing up but it was mainly 4th class. AMazingly we stayed dry the whole scramble up Sunbeam, however we could see a big thunderstorm coming our way as we took our snack break on the summit. It was already dumping on the northern peaks on Downs Mountain. We didn't stay long as we knew we were going to have to find a place to wait it out, ideally as close to Blaurock Pass as possible. The summit register on Sunbeam ended up being one of the more complete ones we saw, and over the course of just a page and a half showed 20 years of sign-ins.
We wasted no time starting down the gentle easy east ridge to the saddle with Febbas. Just before we reached the saddle, the rain was almost on top of us, and we found a place to take shelter just a few feet down the steep east side of the ridge where it drops into the trailless North Fork Bull Lake Creek drainage. Here we were out of the wind and somewhat protected from lightning. It began to rain and thunder...
Small break in the storms on our rest day
Looking up towards Backpackers Pass
Early morning clouds
Gannett socked in the morning after the storm
Eric admiring the view from Backpackers Pass
Gannet still socked from Backpackers Pass
Finally we can see the upper part of Turret
View across to Sunbeam
North face of Warren
Clouds finally above Gannett
Eric rounding the west side of the cliff
Made it past the crux
Easier terrain on the upper mountain
Last 140 feet from the narrow section of ridge...we went right of the small tower
Eric scrambling near the summit
Happy to have done Turret
Fremont, Sacajawea and Helen all getting some sun!
Helen and Henderson from Turret
Looking like it'll clear up...
Rough looking terrain to Sunbeam
Scrambling the narrow section of ridge
Eric traversing back around the low cliff on slabs with the crux step just behind him
As the storm passed through, the rain came down hard, but we were hiding next to a wall on the leeward side so must of the rain was blowing sideways and not hitting us given our protected location. However a bolt of lightning struck the summit of Febbas just 0.4 miles away from us...good thing we were not up there at the time! About 25 minutes of waiting and the storm passed, and we had what appeared to be a 45 minute window to summit, and get off the wide summit plateau before the next storm in the distance would approach. So we raced up the final 700 feet to Febbas, which had an occational class 3 move. We actually followed a herd of mountain goats up the ridge, which left a lovely odor for us to inhale as we huffed our way up. We arrived on Febbas as the middle of the sun break between storms hit and we actually felt some warmpth. We enjoyed tis summit a little more since we were quick to tag and leave the other two. Another well cared for register greeted us, along with views of a large looking tower on Horse Ridge called Chimney Rock just a short ways off to the east. There's some interesting info about this rugged unranked 13er in my Febbas page on SP.
We started down, and took a technically easier route down to the north aiming for the west facing scree that drops down into the valley just west of Febbas and north of Sunbeam. It was a loose scree ski descent, which is where my knee really started to hurt the most, and slowed me down considerably. We eventually made the descent back down though, passed by a small tarn just before reaching the edge of the Dinwoody moraine, then re-ascended a few hundred feet up the moraine back to camp, completing the loop. We ended up getting hit by that next storm as we scrambled the moraine back to the tents. Dinner on this day was well earned, and we felt lucky to have snuck those ascents in between storms after having to wait for 2.5 hours early in the morning.
One last look at Turret
Typical scrambling up Sunbeam
Bypassing a tower on the ridge
Rain nearing Turret...we were glad to be off of that!
View of the easier Febbas as rain nears
Gannett from Sunbeam
Turret from Sunbeam
Sunbeam summit register
Sunbeam climbing history over 20 years!
The big storm closing in behind Eric
Descending to Blaurock Pass
Continued below in comment...
The next storm on its way
Fremont and Sacajawea from Febbas
Chimney Rock really caught our eye
Woodrow Wilson and Pinnacle Ridge from Febbas
Sun on the summit of Febbas
View down Horse Ridge
Our Febbas entry
Steep drop to the west
North face of Sunbeam
SMall tarn on way back to camp
View down the Dinwoody Valley
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High on the Outdoors
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2049 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
July 30 - Woodrow Wilson and Pinnacle Ridge; Move camp to edge of Gannett Glacier
The following day, we got another 5:30am start and started hiking up the northern arm of the Dinwoody Glacier towards Pinnacle Ridge, the same way we saw Eli heading a few days prior. We had to navigate some bare ice and a couple cracks on the far right edge of the glacier where the snowpack had already completely melted, but it was just a short section, and soon enough we were cruising up moderate snow towards Pinnacle Ridge. This peak is barely a peak really, and is another one of the "barely has 300 feet of prominence" Wyoming 13ers, and sits about halfway between Woodrow Wilson and Gannett on the divide. Many smaller gendarmes and wicked looking towers line this part of the ridge, of which Pinnacle Ridge is the highest one.
We ascended the snow finger that bisected the two high towers of Pinnacle Ridge, the left one being the true summit. The snow steepened to about 40 degrees on the final 100 feet or so, and once we reached this high 13290 foot notch, the remainder of the route presented itself as a 4th class scramble on the north facing short wall leading directly to the summit. A steep buttress blocks the view of this final 100 foot scramble from Dinwoody Glacier, and it only becomes visible just as you reach the notch. The final boulder on the summit is an 8 foot exosed slab that terminates at a singular point just big enough for one person to climb up and touch at a time. There was no register, so we didn't waste any time and descended back to the notch and began traversing down to the south over the top of the large rock buttress bisecting the north and the middle fingers of the Dinwoody. We descended down to the 12650 foot level on 35-40 degree snow and traversed across to the large bergschrund, which we rounded on the far left (east) side. The rest of the snow walk was now on very mellow 20 degree slopes all the way up to 13300 feet.
From the end of snow, a short boulder hop brought us to a small notch on the divide that allowed us to make a 50 foot descent down a sloping ledge to the north couloir. Once in the couloir proper we began scrambling left and up, entering class 4 terrain, then when we hit bare ice that was clinging in the upper couloir we decided to rope up since the ice made the climbing 5th class. I led one full 30 meter pitch from where we first hit the ice which took me all the way to the notch at the top of the north couloir, which is also where the south couloir ends as well. This was so far only the second peak we brought the rope out for and actually used. I thought the pitch was about 5.3 due to the ice. If it were dry it would have been 4th class. Eric followed and once at the notch, he led up the short one move wonder 5.0 section right above the notch, belayed me up the short step and we then scrambled the final 30 feet to the top.
The summit of Woodrow Wilson sits in one of the best spots in the Winds, and I thought it was the best vantage to see the most epic scenery. Titcomb Basin was fully visible due south of us, and so many peaks north along the divide were clearly seen, as well as the Turret group we had just climbed the previous day. For me personally, Woodrow WIlson was my favorite WY 13er.
The time came to descend, and we downclimbed on belay the little 5.0 step back to the notch, then utilized an existing rap anchor at the notch to rappel 30 meters down the ice covered pitch I led (we brought out the second rope to make the full 30 meter rappel). After the rappel we scrambled the rest of the way back down, then back up to the notch in the divide where easy snow descending awaited us. Again though, the descending began to hurt my knee, and I had to walk like a penguin keeping my right leg straight as I pulled it forward with each step, and leading each step with it so it was bearing weight on the bones, rather than lowering me with a bent knee. My left leg ended up doing all the soft tissue weight bearing on descents for the majority of the rest of the trip. By the end of it, I learned how I could completely change my walk on descents to minimize the pain.
Once back at camp, the weather was still perfect, we we decided to move camp, since we had completed the six peaks surrounding the Dinwoody Glacier. We ate a meal, packed up and began walking towards West Sentinel and crossed over to the Gannett Glacier. I was hoping we would find a snow free place to camp at this pass between West Sentinel and Gannett but had no such luck, so we continued traversing across the Gannett Glacier on a gentle descending traverse towards the next saddle on the glaciers north edge. As we crossed this glacier at about the 11850 foot level, we finally got a profile view of Koven, our next objective and the crux peak of the whole trip. Here we managed to find some dry, easily maneuvered sandy ground, and even had a small running water stream coming off the snow to the west, so we made camp and cooked another dinner, since by this point we were at least 3 days ahead of my original estimated schedule.
To Be Continued...
Sunrise on Pinnacle Ridge
Morning light on the lower cliffs of Gannett
Pinnacle Ridge; we went up the left snow finger
Turret and Sunbeam at left
Looking straight to Pinnacle Ridge
View north towards Gannett
The large schrund guarding Woodrow Wilson
Eric on top of Pinnacle Ridge
Gannett from Pinnacle Ridge
Mammoth Glacier below
Woodrow Wilson from Pinnacle Ridge
Desolation Peak on left
Descending Pinnacle Ridge; the north facing class 4 wall just above Eric
Looking up the final steeper snow to the notch
Walking to Woodrow Wilson next
North couloir of Wilson from the divide notch
Scrambling to the north couloir down the sloping ledge
Looking down the north couloir
Eric leading the step just above the upper notch
View south from upper notch
Gannett from Wilson
Titcomb Basin from Wilson
Titcomb Basin 13ers
American Legion and Henderson
Bonney Pass below from Wilson
Split and Whitecap
Eric on the summit of Wilson
Descending back to upper notch
Rappelling the north couloir
Eric crossing the bergschrund
Wild twisted spires between Wilson and Pinnacle Ridge
Small pond next to our Dinwoody camp
At the pass below West Sentinel
Koven finally comes into view; south ridge on left
Traversing the Gannett Glacier
Warren poking out beyond the West Sentinel Pass
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Joined: 02 Aug 2016
Posts: 521 | TRs | Pics
I can't believe what Eric has done this year. It's completely insane! The man must have indestructible knees and a crazy high pain tolerance (or does he even feel pain?) Congrats to you both, and thanks for the nice photos of a place I really want to explore some day.
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High on the Outdoors
Joined: 15 Jul 2010
Posts: 2049 | TRs | Pics
Location: Grand Junction
Colorado Centennials (Hightst 100 in CO), WY 13ers and now finished the Montana 12ers all between June 16thish and now. Took me years to finish those 3 lists!!
For me the even more impressive feat beyond just the physical demands to complete that is the mental fortitude and dedication to keep going...I would lose interest after climbing peaks every day after a few weeks at most, and want to do something else for a while. Even on this trip in WY I was ready to stop going up peaks and go back to work lol.
|Jake Robinson wrote:|
|I can't believe what Eric has done this year. It's completely insane! The man must have indestructible knees and a crazy high pain tolerance (or does he even feel pain?) Congrats to you both, and thanks for the nice photos of a place I really want to explore some day.|
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