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| | |-+  April 22-24, Wind River Range
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Author Topic: April 22-24, Wind River Range  (Read 1513 times)

Posts: 25

April 22-24, Wind River Range
« on: 04/27/17, 12:49 PM »

Being an cascade kid, I've had to be a distant admirer of TAY this season from Jackson Hole.  With my last few days here seeping away, a buddy and I chose to voyage out to the Wind River Range. While the Tetons accumulate the majority of tracks and attention, the Wind River Range is seldom visited due to its challenging access even though it boasts many of the state's highest peaks.  An original 5 day trip of many ascents and couloirs was cut short due to winter clawing itself back into the mountains.

Day One: The Approach
We arrived at White Pine Resort at 830a to make our 15ish mile march into Titcomb Basin. The road into Elkhart Trailhead doesn't get plowed until May or June which added 2 miles plus 1000' vert. Sunshine and scattered clouds were friendly enough to stick around for the entire day.  After three hours of wooded skinning, we reached the 10,000' plateau and could see the wall of 13,000' peaks in front of us.  Another 5 hours of weaving through unending lake beds brought us to Island Lake where we set up our base camp for the next few days. 

Day Two: Damnit Gannett
We knew Sunday would be our only weather window for a peak nab, and, with Gannett Peak standing at 13,804' (tallest in Wyo), we had our target set. Low to mid twenties allowed for a relaxed 8am start and we made way through Titcomb Basin to Bonney Pass which would bring us to the base of Gannett.  We skinned 5 miles without thought but when we reached the first vert of Bonney Pass, our legs were reminded of the previous day's treachery. I had been out for two weeks with a knee injury and grossly overestimated my fitness recovery plus the overcast ceiling began to drop and winds picked up into 30's at 11000'. At the end of Titcomb Basin is Helen Peak, which features an alluring 1800' couloir. We re-evaluated, and began to boot up the couloir. Light pow met our knees and hips. Only half way up, I tapped out and bivy'ed up with my partner reaching the top 45 minutes later.  The turns were tasty and, unfortunately, the only real ones of the trip...

Day 3: Bail? Bail!
The storm had dropped 4-6 inches that night and we had overcast skies in the morning. We knew more snow was in the forecast but we're optimistic we would at least have another day of reasonable visibility.  We set off for the 2000' col on Harrier Pk only 3 miles from camp. As we progressed into the basin, a whiteout engulfed us. Knowing it would only worsen, we chose to make our way out of the mountains. We took off at 12:45p, and slogged our way for 10.5 hours of trailbreaking until we reached the car at 11:15p. It must have snowed 3-6 inches on our way out. Somehow, this had outmatched our approach.

The next day we checked the forecast and saw 10-14" were dropping everyday on out. Definitely got lucky to call it there.  The Winds have that drool inducing terrain though just be ready to wander for a bit to get there.
Also, this is my first TR. I wanted to save it for one good enough to lit a stoke fire (fine.. maybe a candle).

* 18176199_1389658334420706_1138317688_o.jpg (225.4 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 638 times.)

* 18120505_1389658117754061_395182256_o.jpg (130.65 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 644 times.)

* 18119961_1389657787754094_1193837781_o.jpg (114.77 KB, 600x800 - viewed 642 times.)
Pete A

Posts: 846

Re: April 22-24, Wind River Range
« Reply #1 on: 04/27/17, 02:57 PM »

awesome effort!  thats quite the haul in there with skis.   

might this be your couloir?   My wife and I were backpacking through the Winds this fall and despite there not being much snow around, as we climbed towards Knapsack Col, we both kept staring back at the big couloir on Mt.Helen.

* helen_from_knapsack1.jpg (149.29 KB, 775x447 - viewed 577 times.)

* helen_from_knapsack2.jpg (133.07 KB, 800x534 - viewed 585 times.)

Posts: 25

Re: April 22-24, Wind River Range
« Reply #2 on: 04/28/17, 10:31 AM »

Pete, You are correct! There was also a pair of cols between the two massive faces looker's right of the one I skied (almost visible in your photo).  They would have been an awesome descent though you would  need more consistent snow type.
Kyle Miller

Posts: 636

Re: April 22-24, Wind River Range
« Reply #3 on: 04/28/17, 12:19 PM »

Looks great and good call!!

Welcome to the site!

In a perfect world, everybody would act with the correct etiquette and follow the rules. Human nature as it is= NOT GOING TO matter how many discussion on ski blogs/websites. Face reality............

Posts: 54

Re: April 22-24, Wind River Range
« Reply #4 on: 04/28/17, 12:31 PM »

Ah, the Winds! Where I first learned to backcountry ski (and make a tele turn) on a winter NOLS course many years ago. Good memories. Thanks for posting.
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