and the peaks of Porcupine Creek
The forecast for weather was up to 40% by the time we left Jackson at 4 am on Monday morning, some snow was also predicted. Not the best conditions for a speed attempt on Gannett Peak, but my stubbornness kept the trip on track and Julia and I were on the Highline Trail by 6:30 with just enough light to go without the headlamps.
It was a beautiful morning as the sun lit up the peaks on the other side of the canyon and the fall colors slowly came to life. It took us about 2.5 hours to cover the 12 miles to Three Forks Park, we saw a few moose (and not a single person) on the way. I was constantly looking over my shoulder to the west, expecting to see a blob of clouds approaching, but it was still bluebird when we proceed off-trail and forded the Green River. We took our first real break, ate some food, and soaked in the warm sun as it finally reached the floor of the steep canyon.
The line up into Tourist Creek is not an easy one and it is protected by steep boulder fields on the right and thick trees on the left. We opted for the boulders, which ranged from the size of cars and buses where route finding was challenging, to baseballs and soccer balls that would move beneath our feet with nearly every step. Unlike the speed of the first half of the trip, it took us 2.5 hours to travel the 3 miles and 3000′ up to Lake 11,085. About halfway up was when I saw the first clouds appear in the sky and I knew the success of the trip was in jeopardy.
with the Green River and Three Forks Park below
We were still about 4 or 5 miles from the summit of Gannett Peak and still needed to drop down 600′ before climbing another 3300′ to the nearly 14,000′ summit. Staying focused on the goal was challenging with the bad weather approaching, potentially making a descent back to the canyon bottom through the boulders extremely treacherous. The thought of continuing for another couple hours, before getting denied by wind, rain and snow, brought our confidence down and we decided continuing further wasn’t the best idea.
The Mammoth and Baby Glacier are visible in the distance.
The summit of Gannett pokes just above the skyline on the left.
My head hung low as we made our way back to the canyon floor. I though the boulder field was easier on the way down, Julia thought it was harder. We decided to muscle it back out to the car after a rest next to the river and it was about 4:30 when we started the hike/run out. Staying on pace, we made it out just after 7pm. I had some beers waiting in a cooler, but they weren’t as enjoyable without the summit of Gannett in the mix. I was bummed, and kinda mad at myself for not paying more attention to the weather, which I feel play such a huge part in executing fast and light trips like this.
Pretty good workout non-the-less, and a nice 30 mile day under the belt. I was still feeling pretty good when we got to the car, but after some dinner (and another beer) at ‘The Place’ in Cora, the drive through Hoback Canyon was a blur. I felt a little hazy and dehydrated yesterday. Round trip…door to door…18 hours.
No worries Steve. You are still a hero in my book. Way to put in a big day in the mountains. You will get ‘er done next time.
Sorry the weather foiled your attempt, but a day in the Winds is always a good thing regardless. And to not see anyone, even better!
I was worried that you might stil be recovering from “sling-shot fatigue”, but it sounds like it wasn’t an issue!
Congrats on the GT btw. Hopefully we will have our skis next time we are on top of either peak.
WHOA, Mister Romeo. Keep the priorities in check, my friend! A beautiful run in the mountains with your bad-ass ladyfriend, and you’re STILL hanging your head?
Sounds like an awesome day to me!
I guess I should try to keep things in perspective. Leave it to you to keep me grounded…thanks KT!
Curious to what you use for shoes on a mission like this? Trail running shoes seem sketchy for steep snow…what did you pick?
I used some Vasque Velocity trail runners. They stuck to the rocks pretty good, but I almost broke my leg a couple times when the plastic seciton of the outsole below the arch came in contact with the rocks. Yikes!
Unfortunatly Rita, global warming has melted all the snow and is shrinking the glaciers SO much that snow travel considerations weren’t even a concern when choosing what footwear to wear on this adventure.
Yo, Steve. I thought Gannett from Elkhart Park was shorter than from Green River Lakes, at least w/o a canoe. I could be (i.e., probably am) wrong, though. Any reason you chose that route over the former?
I’m pretty sure the route from GRL is shorter. I measured it on my TOPO program at under 20 miles…maybe even under 18 miles There is a lot of off trail hiking though, so I think that is why most people avoid it.
From Elkhart, Gannett is no doubt more than 20 miles away. I’m sure Anguish can enlighten you (or us).
Nice work Steve! Sorry you didn’t make the summit, but it still sounds like an awesome trip. Not a good idea to push your luck with the weather sometimes 😉
It’s actually 19.95 miles from Elkhart to Gannett, and much of that is on trail, so I’m sure a couple burley-folk like you two could probably cover that distance pretty fast. Also, this is the route taken by two people I’ve talked to who’ve bagged the peak in one push in under 24 hours. Might be something to keep in mind if you’re going for another speed attempt.
In the above comment I should’ve said “bagged the peak car-to-car in one push in under 24 hours.” -B
Yeah…I’ve heard of a few people doing it that way in a day…my co-worker Rob Macal for one. The thought has come to mind for a CTC push. I think you would need to bring crampons for the Elkhart route…when you don’t for GRL…at least this time of year.
I guess I didn’t think of crampons. Of course, I’m also not a “speed” guy and tend to hump too much gear into places like this. Does the north side of Gannett hold ice all year? Also, was wondering how accessible the standard route is from the Green River Lakes trail head, as I’d like to bag the peak from this way sometime. Again, I’m not a speed person, but it seems like a speed attempt would be more economical from Elkhart, as the route, at least as far as Indian Basin, is on trail and pretty flat. But I’ve never made the full push to Gannett from Green River Lakes so I wouldn’t know the difference.
I would think the true north side (Gannett Glacier)would be a snow/ice climb for a bit, but from the GRL you go up the west couloir to the North Ridge, which is ice free…just blocky. The route is straight forward once you leave the trail, but not easy going for the first mile or two. I’ve heard it’s pretty rough going up to Bonney Pass via Titcomb and Elkhart, but I haven’t summited that way.
Honestly, I think a speed mission would be faster from GRL, mainly cuz the first 12 miles is completely flat.
Alas, the eternal quest for the shortest/fastest/easiest route to the top of Wyoming.
Elkhart is a tempting answer, because of its elevation. But you have the pass to go up and down from Titcomb to the Dinwoody side, and still have the crampon issue, as noted above.
Dinwoody (Trail Lake, Glacier Trail) would seem to be the longest, although not, perhaps, if done from Cold Springs on the Res, a trailhead also at altitude. In April, Trail Lake was likely the easiest (Forrest McCarthy, Step it Up campaign, 2007).
I talked with Rob Macal too, somewhat recently, and believe he thinks GRL is the answer, if not Cold Springs, but he should speak for himself.
The canoe is a boon on the GRL route, but Iikely not for a speed ascent. Its advantages play out for those spending more time who might have more gear and who might not want to pound knees at the end of the trip.
A friend recently soloed it wity my solo canoe and went up Wells Creek – the old Vince Lee approach. He had to do a death-defying waterfall jump. Forrest said the route is no longer guided because of the increased outflow from the Minor Glacier, so Tourist is the way to go.
Back in the day, some folk climbed it by bike, although I heard a ranger took away a pair of bolts to incapacitate a rider’s front wheel. (Then there was the guy who carried his bike to the top with JHMG as he pursued being the first cycle on the highest points of 50 states….???? [Don’t I want to be the second person to climb the second highest point on the seven summits.])
I think Cold Springs is the sleeper, although you still have the crampon issue (or talus or 5.7 move, I believe) and the Res. transport fee and the Res. transport timing and the shuttle out of Cold Springs… Complex.
Is there a record?
Don’t know for sure…I bet Rob is close.
Love the insight Anguish…Thanks!!!