For those of you that have climbed Gannett Peak (13,804′), the highest mountain in Wyoming, you know that for most people it tends to be a 3-5 day trip, mainly because of its long approach. But there are some folks out there (there seems to be more and more of them these days) that are able to tackle the summit Gannett Peak in one day and pull off a car-to-car effort.
Anyway, on August 4th, the new speed record, or FKT (Fastest Known Time), was set for Gannett Peak by 47 year old Boulderite, Peter Bakwin. Using the closest free access point from the Green River Lakes trailhead ($100 each way will get the white-man a shuttle to the Cold Springs trailhead in the Wind River Indian Reservation on the east side of the range), Peter made a solo effort via the Highline Trail/Tourist Creek/Minor Glacier route…36 miles round trip. His CTC (car-to-car) time was 12:39:29.
Minor Glacier and the West Face of Gannett Peak.
Here are some of Peter’s split times, including approximate distance between splits/total distance and elevation gain/loss, as well as his account of the day as stated on La Sportiva’s Adventure Running Blog. The splits really do tell the story of how much an accomplishment this really is. Note the last split from the bridge over the Green River to the trailhead, 10 miles in 1:42, that is 10 minute mile pace. Very impressive after the long effort.
*36 miles round trip
GRL TH– 0:00hrs
Bridge over Green River-2:02, 10 miles, +760/-740′
Wells/Tourist Divide-4:35, 5/15 miles, +3160/-60′
Minor Glacier-5:45, 2/17 miles, +1400/-600′
Summit-7:00, 1/18 miles, +1800/-0′
Off Minor Glacier– 7:51, 1 mile, +0/-1800′
Wells/Tourist Divide-8:54, 2/3 miles, +600/-1400′
Bridge over Green River-10:57, 5/8 miles, +60/-3160′
GRL TH-12:39:29, 10/18 miles, +740’/-760′
I started at the GRL TH at 4:22 a.m. and ascended via Tourist Creek. To gain the summit it is about 10-11 miles (depending on how you do it) of basically flat trail (gains 300? net), followed by another 8 (?) miles of off trail, which gains a total of another 6500? or so. Including the drop of 500-700? down to Scott Lake, which you have to reclimb on the way back, the total vert for the route is over 7300?.
I made the summit in exactly 7 hours. Spent 10 minutes up there admiring the view, then down in about 5h30m, a total time of 12h39m29s. Conditions were very good. My knowledge of the route was limited to having ascended Wells Creek with Buzz Burrell in August 2004 (the Tourist Creek route intersects upper Wells Creek near Scott Lake, at about 10,500?), so there were some inefficiencies, but mostly I made good choices. The guidebook has one paragraph on the route (which turned out to be more misleading than helpful), and Tourist Creek is not described on summitpost.com, but it is now.
Looking down towards Wells and Tourist Creek from the summit of Gannet Peak (6/08).
Tourist Creek is a tough route! There is a mind- and quad-blowing amount of rock hopping. Once you leave the flat Highline Trail there is virtually no easy going. This route is seldom done because few people are fit enough (or dumb enough) to attempt it in one day, but if you go for the backpack you either camp at the 10 mile point, and still have a brutal day ahead of you, or you schlep your pack up 2000 vertical feet in 1.5 miles of viscious rock hopping and scrambling to a high camp at 10,200?. Above that you will encounter more rock hopping and talus, glacier travel and moderately steep snow climbing, and class 4 scrambling at above 13,500?. Tough stuff.
Wells Creek is more direct and has about 1000? less climbing that Tourist Creek, and so should be faster provided one were comfortable soloing exposed 5.6 (up & down) in a remote backcountry setting. I am not.
Normally I’m a runner, but this year I have really been enjoying the high peaks more, and so my “training” was pretty good for this effort. This summer I climbed a bunch of 14ers and high 13ers in Colo, and Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton on 7/30. In all, I had a fun day on a beautiful, remote and challenging mountain. –Peter Bakwin