Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

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Gary Neben
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Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Gary Neben » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:27 pm


Jim Rickard, Wayne Herrick, Kurt Wibbenmeyer, and I got together for a trip to Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Jim was the guiding force behind the trip and did almost all the planning. Jim and Wayne planned to knock off peaks for up to two weeks while Kurt and I decided to mostly focus on Gannett and leave earlier.

My wife and I had climbed in the Tetons several times but we had not yet made it into the Wind Rivers. I had always wanted to do Gannett and now I had the opportunity to do that as well as some additional 13ers. Likewise Kurt had never been into the Wind Rivers and also wanted to focus on Gannett. On the other hand, Jim and Wayne had already done Gannett and would instead focus entirely on the nearby 13ers.

2016/07/16, Saturday (Day 1)

Kurt and I carpooled and Wayne and Jim drove another car. This was a driving day to Green River Lake CG, about an hour’s drive N of Pinedale, where Jim had made a group site reservation. We also had hired Thompson Outfitters to take our gear in via horses to where Tourist Creek drains into the Green, about 10-11 easy but long miles from the CG. Consequently we had extra gear for camping that night as we were dropping off our main backpacking gear with the outfitter when we got to Pinedale in the afternoon.

Unfortunately Wayne’s nine-month old Toyota 4Runner broke down between Rock Springs and Pinedale. :roll: Wayne spent some time arranging for a later tow back to Rock Springs where a dealership would hopefully fix it by the time they got out. With the arrangements made, we all dogpiled into my truck with all the gear and continued on to Pinedale, the outfitters, and then the CG.
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There would be complications for Wayne and Jim later, when they came out, to get their car and some of their gear back but they decided quite reasonably that there was nothing more to be done and they might as well enjoy the trip.

2016/07/17, Sunday (Day 2)

Horses, gear, and us all left the TH about the same time mid-morning. Travelling quickly with light packs we made it to the W side of Green River at Tourist Creek soon after the outfitters. We were unsure about the outfitters and location to meet so we had asked them to meet us near the main trail and not cross the Green. All this was unwarranted though. The outfitters proved to be very experienced and knowledgeable, very nice, and quite dependable. But due to our instructions, we would have to cross the Green with our packs on our own as they had already been unloaded by the time we got there.
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Crossing the Green turned out to be easy, just one three-foot stretch that came up to my thighs and the rest easily managed (see photos). :D Slightly further E beyond a rocky rib required a 2nd crossing, where Tourist Creek parallels the Green for a ways, but this was much shorter and also easy.
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So after two river crossings and about mid-afternoon we decided to get some elevation under our belts and headed up Tourist Creek. We would aim for some level ground near a lake at about 10000 feet that we could see on the topo.

Without mincing words going up Tourist Creek (and I also mean going beyond our 1st campsite) with heavy packs really sucks. There is virtually no trail and hardly any cairns - some cairns are actually meaningless. You start by bushwhacking through heavy brush and blow-down and then continue grinding it out through boulder fields. It’s a steep, relentless, and tedious process. :bash:
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On the other hand, what a wild and pristine place! Our 1st campsite was beautiful and practical and we were ready for a good rest.
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Yes, there were mosquitoes and flies along the Green and up Tourist Creek, but head nets, long sleeve shirts and pants, and 25% DEET spray mitigated those problems nicely.

2016/07/18, Monday (Day 3)
Desolation Peak 13155

We packed camp and continued the boulder hopping up Tourist Creek eventually turning SE up the drainage to the N side of the large lake south of Mount Solitude (see topo). From here Jim, Wayne, and I exchanged the heavy packs for light day packs to climb Desolation Peak via its NW ridge. Very nice scrambling along the ridge, no harder than class 3.
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We returned to Kurt and our packs and picked up where we left off. We descended some class 3/4 moves early towards Scott Lake. On the way back I found some far easier walking on ledges in the same spot that were probably more like class 2. We continued to the E side of the high lake 10795 where we once again found nice camping. This would be our staging area for the next several days.
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2016/07/19, Tuesday (Day 4)
Gannett Peak 13804

This is the first day that we would split up, Jim and Wayne doing Rampart, Bastion, and Koven while Kurt and I would do Gannett. However, we left together on the N side of the lake and Kurt and I stayed with them up the drainage to climber’s left of a central buttress, just to the NW of the Minor Glacier (see topo). Kurt and I figured we’d go up this way, walk easily around the buttress, and eventually return to the S of this central buttress.

The buttress hides a small lake where the glacier has melted, with steep snow and rock surrounding it. We did some class 4 to get onto the buttress and from there cruised to its other side where we could crampon-up and start ascending the Minor Glacier to the West Couloir. In general to get situated on the Minor Glacier, bypass the lake on its S shore and bypass the central buttress to climber’s right - much easier and faster.

The W Couloir is obvious - you can see it from many aspects and from camp. We traveled on snow for about 2/3 the way up the couloir where it faded into loose rock. I’d say it was about 40 degrees of corduroy snow. Staying on the larger blocks after the snow wasn’t too bad and we soon found ourselves in the obvious saddle to the N of Gannett.
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Surprisingly, the required scrambling to get situated on the upper N ridge of Gannett is not visible from below. From camp and everywhere else on the approach, it looks like you have to climb an imposing looking ridge on the skyline that drops down to the saddle. But as you climb to the saddle, there is another buttress behind that is far more palatable - this is the rock that you scramble to get onto the N ridge proper.

I had read various accounts on the web that the scrambling was anywhere from 4th class to 5.1 for several pitches. We had brought a 30m rope and a small rack since we didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we never used it. There is easy 3rd and 4th class scrambling on rock ledges as we made our way up. Near the top of the buttress is an obvious harder section. Rather than go up a short chimney (above which are rap slings), we dodged left up some more ledges to a one move wonder through a slot, maybe class 4+ and not exposed. And just like that we were done with the scrambling and, with some short snow slopes ahead of us, we were on the summit (see photos).
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We luxuriated on the summit in the nice temps and met two other summiteers, the only other people we had seen in days. We could see the Grand Teton far in the distance despite the haze created from a big fire.
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I convinced Kurt to return via the SW Couloir, to make a nice loop of it and see another route. We made our way down to the correct area but were unsure of being in the right spot as, typical with these types of things, you can’t see very far down the gully. We continued down and past a constriction at the end - indeed we were in the correct gully.
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It turned out this was a terrible descent as it was almost devoid of snow and filled with loose, crappy rock. We contoured down and over to climber’s right and then climbed about 250 feet to regain the southern end of the Minor Glacier. From this point it was a relatively quick descent and return to camp via the aforementioned S side of the buttress and S shore of the lake.
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2016/07/20, Wednesday (Day 5)
Pinnacle Ridge 13365

I saw the N ridge of Pinnacle as I returned from Gannett and I told Jim and Wayne that it looked fantastic, that I was all in for a climb of it. Little did I realize that we discovered that the actual summit was further S along the ridge than where I thought it was. This involved much more scrambling and route finding around pointy things.
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Jim and Wayne introduced me to some of the techniques they use to get through cruxes efficiently. Wayne found the opening gambit of ledges to the left and Jim led 1 pitch up and right where this petered out. We didn’t use the rope again save for two rappels on the return.
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If I had looked at the map carefully, I would have seen that the summit is indeed further S along the ridge. This was confirmed by my GPS track (see topo).

All in all we did mostly 4th class scrambling, probably some easy 5th, and some of it was clearly exposed. And, lest I forget, there is a bouldering move at the end to get on the summit. Pretty cool climb!
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2016/07/21, Thursday (Day 6)

Time for Kurt and I to leave, time for Jim and Wayne to go get Split and Whitecap. We said our farewells and didn’t look forward to descending Tourist Creek. We went down slightly different ways (see topo) that seemed to work out better. It was still a tediously long way down.

Back at the river, we decided to push on - we were gunning for a hotel and dinner in Pinedale. We pushed ourselves with our uncomfortable loads. From the main trail W of Tourist Creek we made it back to the truck in 4 hrs 17 mins. Not bad.
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We picked up a CDT thru-hiker at the TH who was contemplating quitting with 1 ½ months left and we all drove into Pinedale. We dropped the thru-hiker off at the Pinedale CG. For us, the brewery food never tasted so good after the hotel’s shower.

2016/07/22, Friday (Day 7)

Driving day - head for home.


Note: A running joke we had between us is the FKT (fastest known time) for a car-to-car ascent of Gannett. It’s held by Anton Krupicka in 8h46m32s from Green River Lakes TH via Tourist Creek. Whenever the going got tough and it often did, I would remind everyone of this record. All I can say is that he must have had some good advice of where to go through some of those sections. A pretty phenomenal record!
:worthy:
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PinnacleRidge.gpx
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Gary Neben
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Re: Wyoming’s Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Gary Neben » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:28 pm


Still editing and adding photos ... stay tuned ...


ok, all done.

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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Gary Neben » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:51 pm


Here are two more photos from Wayne's collection which I think are interesting.
waynePinnacleRidge1.jpg
waynePinnacleRidge2.jpg
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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Gary Neben » Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:25 am


Here's a good shot from Jim.
jimTouristCreek.jpg
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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by JBE » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:30 pm


this is an expedition and not just an out of state hike as you put it... :thumbup:

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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by andrewrose » Tue Aug 02, 2016 6:04 pm


Looks like alot of fun! Yeah, every time I think I did something quickly, I look up Anton's time on the same thing and feel bad about myself. I don't know how he does it!

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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Brer Rabbit » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:00 pm


Wow, great report with some amazing photos! I was just looking to get into the Winds and have been doing some preliminary beta, this just makes me wanna get out there sooner! Great stuff!

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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Daniel Battin » Thu May 04, 2017 6:26 pm


Thank you for posting this trip report with all the photos, which were very good and showed exactly what to expect in key points on the route. This is the most comprehensive trip report on Gannett Peak via Tourist Creek that I have seen so far. I hope to do this route in August 2017.

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Re: Wyoming's Gannett Peak and a few others via Tourist Creek

Post by Gary Neben » Fri May 05, 2017 1:32 pm


Hey Daniel, welcome to the site and I'm glad you found the report useful! Let me know if you ever have any questions about the site.

Good luck with your Gannett trip in August and let me know how it works out! :)

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