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Wind River High Route

The milky, glacier-fed waters of the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek. Blaurock Pass is the snow-free low spot on the ridge with the cloud immediately above it. The aptly named Turret Peak is the most prominent on the skyline.

The milky, glacier-fed waters of the North Fork of Bull Lake Creek. Blaurock Pass is the snow-free low spot on the ridge with the cloud immediately above it. The aptly named Turret Peak is the most prominent on the skyline.

“After thinking that there was nothing that could be more impressive than Roper’s Sierra High Route, I can’t say enough how much my mind was blown by the grandeur of Skurka’s Wind River High Route.”
— Austin Lillywhite, Ithica, NY

“Skurka has created what is easily one of the best, and most challenging backpacking routes in the lower US. Yep, going to be hard to top this one.”
— Derek Bartz

“What a trip! The Winds defy description, the most spectacular scenery per square mile anywhere in the lower 48 in my humble estimation.  Loop 2 was a great introduction.  I am very grateful for the effort you have put into developing these lines and definitely want to go back.”
— Erik van Os, Colorado Springs, CO


For 97 miles, the world-class Wind River High Route follows the alpine crest of Wyoming’s Wind River Range, which ranks among the lower 48’s wildest and most magnificent. It is best completed as an end-to-end thru-hike, but its eight recommended section-hikes are more approachable and convenient.

From start to finish, the Wind River High Route remains immersed in jaw-dropping mountain scenery and topography. From high passes between towering peaks, it drops into deep, glacier-carved valleys and strolls past hundreds of lakes. In July and August, its alpine meadows are cloaked in lush grasses and colorful wildflowers. Elk sightings are common; seeing bighorn sheep or grizzly bears is more rare and special. The summertime weather pattern is predictable and mostly friendly: sunny mornings give way to increasing cloudiness in the afternoon, with possible thunderstorms, sometimes violent.

No, this is not Alaska, it’s still Wyoming. Klondike Peak, the Sourdough Glacier, and Iceberg Lake.

No, this is not Alaska, it’s still Wyoming. Klondike Peak, the Sourdough Glacier, and Iceberg Lake.

Without question, the Wind River High Route is the finest line in one of the finest mountain ranges in the world. But like other high routes — e.g. Sierra High Route, Kings Canyon High Basin Route — it is recommended and appropriate only for ambitious intermediate and advanced backpackers.

Sixty-five miles, or two-thirds of the route, is off-trail. The longest continuous off-trail stretch is 30 miles; another is 22 miles. There is extensive travel on talus, granite slabs, snow, and likely some glacial ice, but no technical climbing. It can be done entirely in trail running shoes, though micro crampons and/or an ice axe can be useful.

The heart of the route is bookended by the range’s southernmost and northernmost named 13,000-foot summits, Wind River Peak and Downs Mountain. In between, the route hovers between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. It drops just once to 9,700 feet, which is more than offset by a 12,259-foot mid-route summit, Europe Peak.

The vertical change between the route’s nine passes and three summits, and the accompanying low points, adds up. There is more than 30,000 vertical feet of climbing, or an average of 620 vertical feet of change per mile.

Not surprisingly, the Wind River High Route never crosses a road and it is never immediately accessible from another trailhead.

The tranquil lower East Fork, looking towards the backside of Cirque of Towers

The tranquil lower East Fork, looking towards the backside of Cirque of Towers

The lands through which the Wind River High Route passes are managed by Bridger-Teton National Forest, Shoshone National Forest, and the Wind River Indian Reservation (for which a permit should be obtained). The route is not officially recognized, nor should it be.

There have been several efforts to establish the Wind River High Route. See Wandering DaisyDan McCoyBackpacker Magazine, and most substantially Alan Dixon and Don Wilson. These routes are in the spirit of a high route, but they fail to fulfill the range’s full potential. Most importantly, they bypass entirely the northeast corner of the range, its most spectacular section, home to Gannett Peak (Wyoming’s high point) and the largest concentration of glaciers in the Rocky Mountains. Surely, “the” Wind River High Route must go there.

From Downs Mountain, the northernmost 13er in the Winds, looking south. Gannett Peak is in the center with the large snowfield on its left shoulder and the glacier below it. The Grasshopper Glacier is in the center of the photo.

From Downs Mountain, the northernmost 13er in the Winds, looking south. Gannett Peak is in the center with the large snowfield on its left shoulder and the glacier below it. The Grasshopper Glacier is in the center of the photo.

39 Responses to Wind River High Route

  1. Conor Raney May 16, 2016 at 10:38 am #

    Hello Andrew, very cool page! Didn’t think others out there were doing the things I was doing up here, thank goodness for the internet! I completed a Wind River high route recently and came across your page and saw you did one similar. The route runs a bit higher and longer than the ones you’ve mentioned – but cool nonetheless! Just curious, is there a reason you skipped the ultimate north and south sections of the Winds? Lot of cool country to be had still! Hope you enjoy the Winds and maybe we’ll see you up there sometime. I think it’s awesome to be in agreement that this route is the best in the world, cheers!

    • Andrew Skurka May 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

      I thought the northernmost and southernmost named 13’ers were good bookeneds. Yes, the range extends beyond that, but I don’t think it’s can’t-miss country and the logistics get much tougher.

  2. Will July 1, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    Hello everyone. I am planning a trip to Wind river range. Initially, I was going to arrive on September 3rd and do combine Skurka’s loop 5 and 6 (appreciate any thoughts on this as a “worthy loop”). I settled on this because its been a long time since I’ve been in the rockies, thus a “bail out” is likely. I figured this would give me some good distance but also options. I live in the south east and comfortably average 15 miles a day, on trail. I can do more, but after that its a mind over matter. I figure Ill average between 7.5 to 10 miles in the winds (maybe less) so Im giving myself 10 days. If i go faster, that is just more time to play, if slower, I can cut it short.

    Of course, the Court of Appeals has slated me for oral argument on September 7, and if I cant get it moved, that would make my arrival time September 11/12 and departure date Set 21/22/. What is the weather and do I need snow shoes and Ice Ax? already planning on the micro spikes, just curious as to what other gear I may need.

    If its not doable this time of year, does anybody have any suggestions for some alternatives? In Wyoming or Colorado?

    • Andrew Skurka July 1, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

      Expect sub-freezing nights and brisk days, especially if you’re not in the sun. I would wear pants full-time and a mid-weight long-sleeve, and have a 200-weight fleece available.

      As you go into September, the odds of a winter storm increase, and at the highest elevations the snow could most definitely stick, especially on shady aspects. If you have time, you can wait out a storm, but it’ll probably close the route down for a few days. Hiking off-trail with even a dusting of snow becomes very hazardous. Unfortunately, once you are past Camp Lake (or Douglas Peak Pass if you follow the main route), there are no trails that parallel the route.

      I would carry microspikes in the event you need to exit prematurely via Indian Pass or Bonney Pass. You might be able to avoid crossing glacial ice on Indian, but definitely not on Bonney. If you make it beyond Gannet Creek, they are a good insurance policy for the Gannet Glacier and Grasshopper Glacier, too, both of which could be frozen over after a cold night. Slope angles are low, so I’d put a lower priority on an ice axe.

      Overall, so long as you get a decent weather window, the route will still go in mid-September. But if you get crappy weather, I would definitely have a backup plan ready to go. Since your travel dates are fixed, you have to work with what you’re given and can’t wait for a better stretch.

      • PinedaleTransplant October 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

        There is no glacial ice on Bonney Pass.

        • Andrew Skurka October 11, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

          If you care to get very technical, no, there is no glacial ice on Bonney Pass itself. But glacial ice will be encountered on its north side assuming you don’t just go up there for the view and then descend back into Titcomb. The point is the same: traction is recommended.

          • PinedaleTransplant October 11, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

            There is no glacial ice on the north side of Bonney either, until you get to the valley floor. It’s not getting technical, it’s just the geological aspect of the range. Once mid-summer hits (late July/early August) the snow is all melted out and you’re travelling on scree.

          • Andrew Skurka October 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

            Do you disagree with the recommendation of carrying crampons or microspikes? If not, I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make. The question posed was in regards to conditions and gear. I didn’t feel that it was necessary to specify that the edge of the glacier below Bonney is at about 12,200, about 600 feet below the pass, and that the current bottom edge of the ice is at about 11,400 feet. Short of technical rock climbing, there is no way to avoid glacial ice on the north side of Bonney.

    • Ben March 8, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      I went that first week in September. We had thundersnowstorms and really high winds. We camped on the second Alpine Lake. There is not much natural windbreak there. The snow stuck and made the talus hopping a bit more difficult until we got all the way out of the Alpine Lakes Basin. We had one really tough night there on Labor Day weekend. Most nights were between 20-30 degrees. We had a great time.

  3. Mark August 1, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Hello, sounds great! I’m on the CDT right now and will be doing the Wind Range, would love to do this route. Are there PDF maps available at all? We’re using Ley maps mostly and sometimes Guthook. Do you have any resources for a hiker on a budget? Thanks, Mark

    • Andrew Skurka August 1, 2016 at 12:36 pm #

      Yes, PDF maps are included with the Wind River High Route Guide. I don’t have a “thru-hiker discount,” but if you supply me helpful feedback about the guide after your trip I would be happy to refund your purchase.

  4. Austin Lillywhite August 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Hi Andrew,

    I’ve been a huge fan of your work and your writing for a few years now. I’m a big believer in high routes (did SHR last year in 12.5 days and became totally addicted) and I love your writing about them, and the excellent maps you put out. Definitely a super high quality product, and you obviously invest a huge amount of effort into producing top-notch stuff.

    I’ve been stoked about doing your WRHR for over a year now, and just returned back from it a few days ago. I have to say, your WRHR is an absolute MASTERPIECE of high route walking.

    I took my father-in-law with me, who was totally new to high routes, but has some mountaineering and ultra-running experience. Unfortunately, he was coming off a nasty broken toe and a double meniscus surgery, so hadn’t been able to prep at all. That combined with a couple scary falls and altitude sickness, and he couldn’t deal with 5.5-6.5 day itinerary I had set up. He had a very hard deadline to be back to work, and I have a flight tomorrow morning to start a PhD program in NY, so when we reached Hay Pass we had pull the plug.

    I’m so bummed I could’ve given you a documentation of the full thru-hike! As it is though, I’ve put together a video documenting the southern half of the journey at least, and a trip report with photos as well. Here’s link to the two of them in case you’re curious to have a look at them:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEvbC3gz4i8&feature=youtu.be
    https://austinlillywhite.wordpress.com/trip-reports/wind-river-high-route-skurka-version-southern-half-75-miles-810-142016/

    Also, I mentioned this in my trip report, but there’s a shuttle business named “Classic Cruise Control”, run by a man named Christian out of Lander, that took us from trailhead to trailhead for only $150. He’s a super awesome, standup dude, and I can’t say enough positive about his business and the fairness of his pricing.

    Another question I’ve been meaning to ask you:
    Do you have any other high route projects in mind? Anything you could put together from your experiences in Alaska? Colorado Rockies? Any notions about international projects, i.e., Cordilleras Blancas or Dolomites?

    I’ll be sure to be back next summer to do a full hike of the 97 miles and will get a full documentation then. I absolutely can’t wait! Already scheming and fantasizing about it.

    Seriously, huge props on this man. It’s by far the best high route experience that I’ve ever had. Most beautiful route-line.

    (P.S., would love to meet you sometime and try to hike with you if you ever want a youngster for a hiking partner who loves to fast-pack!)

    • Andrew Skurka August 21, 2016 at 6:49 am #

      Glad that you had a great experience and that you’ll be returning in the future to finish up the rest of the route. Honestly, you were just starting to get into the good stuff when you bailed out.

      A general comment (not specifically to you) that I’d recommend a 5.5-day itinerary for really fit backpackers who are traveling light and ready to put it down. When I did the entire route last summer it took me 4.25 days; I was hoofing it, and a few weeks later I placed 3rd in the Run Rabbit Run 100, which is a very competitive ultra marathon. Seven days is probably about right for the average fit backpacker; more if you want to take your time and your new to high routes, less if you have more of an endurance athletics background.

    • Andrew Skurka August 21, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Oh, re other high routes, I’ve started to work on the Glacier Divide Route, and on one in Colorado. You’ll probably see pre-edition guidebooks this winter.

  5. Austin Lillywhite August 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

    Hey Andrew, thanks for the reply.

    I could tell all to well from your route description that we were just getting to all the really lovely alpine goodness–absolutely breaks my heart to have left it behind! To your point about timing, I was feeling very able, but you’re absolutely right, it was way too much for my less experienced partner. Sadly he had only that brief bit of time off from work and he wanted to take the gamble…

    Re: other routes — I saw your Glacier Divide Route post! Was super stoked about it!! I just went to Glacier and did the North Circle Loop with my wife and sister-in-law the week before the WRHR. I spent along time last winter trying to scope out off-trail routes in Glacier and found no leads. When I got there I totally saw why–just like you said, it’s a range that in no way lends itself to the classic archetypes of normal high routes. I had the same exact phrase run through my head while I was there “more like Grand Canyon at elevation than a mountain range”. Anyways, looks like I’ll have an excuse to go back to Glacier too 🙂

    Also, yes please to the one on Colorado!!

    Do you have any helpful leads on books for sleuthing info on putting together something high-routeish in Alaska? Is Alaska just too far out for you to get there often enough to practically be able put together a worthy high route attempt? I imagine there’s also more serious considerations and dangers when attempting anything those elevations than Sierras and Winds. That being said, I’m absolutely dying to get to Alaska. And I totally share your philosophy: I have limited time and funds, and if I’m making a special trip to a special range, I want to be sure I make the absolute most of it.

    Best wishes,

    Austin

  6. Jonathan Ratner August 28, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Been walking the divide for 40 years now, avoiding trails and running into maybe 3 parties in 3 weeks (usually all when crossing a trail)

    In those 40 years I have passed 2 groups in the Alpine Lakes/Brown Cliffs canyon (1996 and 2 years ago) until this year when I ran into 34 people in 6 groups in one day. All were from this post.

    • Andrew Skurka August 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      I wish this page could be credited entirely for that, but I think a few other online resources are responsible as well.

      Unlike elitists who think they have exclusive rights to the Wind River Range, I am thrilled that at least 34 new people experienced Alpine Lakes this summer.

      • OldTimerClimber51 August 30, 2016 at 9:30 am #

        The problem I have with you Andrew is you’re cutting out the acknowledgment of those who have done the route before you. You claim it as your own, or at least act like it is. When someone says, “I love your route,” you don’t say thanks. You say, “It’s not my route, I’m just telling the world about it.” You’re probably the 400th-500th person to do this route ever. That’s the problem people are having around here, you are offending the Skinners, Finis Mitchell, Yvon Chouinard, Forrest McCarthy and Paul Petzl (all whom have contributed to the Winds and significantly to this route). We’ve invested our lives into this range for many generations and to see you take credit for something like this is very unprofessional. I can see why you are a mountain runner…it’d be dangerous for you to hang out in the mountains too long that gave you a boost in your career and your wallet. There are many other locals who have completed better, higher and more adventurous routes. But they don’t swing their website around and take credit for things they haven’t done.

        In short, you are a fabricator (a sly one at that). You have NOTHING to do with this route other than walking it and selling the information. I would be disgraced to wear that ‘honor’ as you see it.

        • Andrew Skurka August 30, 2016 at 9:49 am #

          Can you point to a single instance in which I have claimed to be the first to explore these areas? If I had, you’re right, that’d be disgraceful and ignorant. But to the contrary, I’ve been forthright in giving credit to earlier luminaries, such as here: http://andrewskurka.com/adventures/wind-river-high-route/history/.

          I did the same when I released information for my Kings Canyon High Basin Route, like here and here. Unless I were interested in writing a complete history of these ranges, which is an entirely different project and which others are better capable of doing, I think my efforts to acknowledge that I stand on the shoulders of giants are satisfactory.

          Regarding your claims of profit-seeing, I’m very comfortable with selling goods or services into which I have put significant time and/or that are of perceived value to others. I’m sure that you don’t work for free, and I’m sorry if you’re work and your passion do not coincide. I’m very fortunate that mine do. More reading, if you care to: “Is it wrong to profit from your passion?

  7. Austin Lillywhite August 30, 2016 at 10:53 am #

    Ditto to what Andrew said…

    I don’t have any problem paying a bit for an electronic publication that does me a huge service by saving me significant time and energy… I don’t know why this is such a hangup for people.

    I probably would never have experienced the Winds in the way that I did if it wasn’t for Skurka and Dixon/Wilson, just like I wouldn’t have experienced the Sierras in the way that I did if it wasn’t for Roper. They are all awesome teachers. I’m massively grateful for the things they’ve taught which have enabled me to have experiences I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

    Also, if there’s a higher, more adventurous route that doesn’t involve technical climbing, I’d love to hear it.

    Best,

    Austin

    • PinedaleTransplant October 11, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      “I don’t have any problem paying a bit for an electronic publication that does me a huge service by saving me significant time and energy… I don’t know why this is such a hangup for people.”

      And this, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely the problem.

      Laziness and disrespect is what it boils down to.

      Respect the process, reap the rewards.

      Skurka, as well-intentioned as your guide may have been in the beginning, it has contributed to a major burden on a historically untrammeled range. In the last year, I have seen widening trails, new trails right next to existing trails, erosion and more trash than I care to carry out.

      But I have to tell myself, to each their own. Not everyone enjoys the backcountry the same. Just realize that your proposed “High Route” isn’t even close to a true high route. I believe it was Conor who pointed out that your route misses some of the most beautiful country in the Winds, not limited to the very northern part of the range, which is some of the most wild and remote in the range.

      The great thing about the Winds is the very fact that you can spend a lifetime in the range and still find new nooks and crannies. Different strokes for different folks!

  8. Vangorn September 10, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Haha..Wow, just goes to show you Andrew, haters are gonna’ hate.

  9. Susan September 23, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Hi Andrew. My son and I just hiked the Uinta Highline trail in Utah one end to the other last month. My question is how terrifing are the mountain passes in the Wind River Range? We were planning on doing this hike next. I’m asking because the passes on the Highline trail were so crazy scary!!! Anderson pass and Deadhorse pass plus others!!!! I just wanted to know how ahead of time how the passes were in the Wind River Range. The passes on the Highline trail were the kind that you could easily fall to your death with one wrong step.

    • Andrew Skurka September 23, 2016 at 7:34 pm #

      I have not hiked in the Winds so I cannot offer first-hand experience. There are some dicey passes in the Winds that would be at least as difficult as anything in the Uintas, if not airier, but I’m sure you could link together a route with easier passes, too.

      One month is a lot of time in the backcountry, and hopefully you were able to work on your map-reading skills. If so, you might be able to compare the topography of passes in the Winds with those in the Uintas.

    • kevin October 30, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

      Susan, I have hiked the Uintas Highline trail and been to many places on the “WRHR”. The “WRHR” will be MUCH harder mentally and physically. Some of the passes have less exposure but the fact that there is no trail for miles makes it way tougher mentally at least in my head. i think you could get used to scary passes by doing some good hard day hikes in a steep mountain range like the wasatch or tetons. The “WRHR” is way harder than the highline because of all the off trail sections and the isolation. The Winds are more rocky too. You can contact me if you have any more question

      • Susan Browning October 30, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

        Thank you for your response. I’m seriously not worried about it being difficult mentally or physically. I just don’t want to fall to my death. I can take the physical extremes, the isolation and the hiking with no trail. I just wanted to find out if the passes have sheer drop offs. Its really hard to find that answer anywhere. Oh and I have practiced the scary passes in the Unitas!!! Lol. But I appreciate your information about the trail!!

        • kevin November 4, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

          Hello Susan, Dont think any of the passes in the winds should be any worse than anderson pass ( uintas ) . The west side of anderson or porcupine would be pretty sketchy IF there was no trail. I think some could be more mellow. But route finding errors or left over winter snow could make it tough. I would go for it but always have alternate routes/escapes available. The book-Beyond Trails in the Wind River Mountains by Nancy Pallister- has awesome off trail info I would get that too.

          • Susan Browning November 5, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

            Thank you so much for that info. Anderson pass was so much fun!! Haha. I think we are going to go for it next summer! I can’t wait. Thanks for the book idea also. I was hoping someone could compare it to Anderson Pass or Porcupine!!

  10. Susan September 24, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    Andrew thanks for your reply. I’m not worried about how strenuous the passes are in the Winds. I don’t mind how hard it is. I only mine the fear of falling off the edge. The Uinta Highline trail was so awesome but the trails on the passes were so harzardous. More than harardous!!! Deadly!! You could barely fit your feet on the trail it was so skinny and usually not many switchbacks. The trail was missing in some areas so we had to step across areas with no trail. I felt like I cheated death on each pass. Lol. We didn’t take a month to do it we did it in 6 nights 7 days. Just curious about the trails in the passes in the wind range because I can look at all types of maps all day long but they don’t show what the trails r like. YIKES But no matter what we are going to hike the Wind River Range trail next.

  11. Bob September 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    Susan, I don’t recall any spot on the WRHR with as much exposure to deadly falls as what you describe in the Uintas. In ’88 I did a high traverse like Skurka’s except for the Wind River Peak and Alpine Lakes areas and I used different trail heads. The falling danger on the WRHR isn’t the falling off a cliff variety, but there are a lot of places were a misstep can cause a nasty tumble or slide.

    Check out Austin Lillywhite’s posts above and the WordPress link to his excellent trip report and photos. Austin describes an accident his father in law had descending the west gully of Wind River Peak, perhaps the most difficult spot on the route.

    A way in which the WRHR might be harder than the Uinta Highline is a lot of it is off trail, some of which is easy walking but there are hours long stretches where a misplaced step could snap an ankle etc. Before attempting the WRHR I think a person should be comfortable with tricky off trail foot work and navigation. I’ve seen guys that had a great on trail backpacking pace in the Winds but on off trail talus their pace went down a crawl.

    The Winds are well worth multiple trips, if you don’t have a lot of high elevation off trail hiking experience I’d suggest doing a loop in the Winds first. If you are comfortable with the talus then go for it. Skurka’s guide includes an alternate to the west gully, longer but also beautiful.

  12. Michael McLoughlin January 4, 2017 at 3:28 am #

    I’m planning a trip to the WRHR this year with a friend. We have pretty open calendars and would like to pick a time for the best experience and chance of success. When would you recommend?

    My impression is that it would make sense to wait until late July for more favorable snow conditions. With storm risks increasing in September, looks like August is best? Would early or late August make any difference?

    We are thinking 9 or 10 days. For reference, I completed the SHR in a total of 16 days (split over two trips).

    Thank you for putting this together!

    • Andrew Skurka January 4, 2017 at 8:35 am #

      Have you read this page yet? http://andrewskurka.com/adventures/wind-river-high-route/scheduling-considerations/

      Bottom line: The most optimal window is August through mid-September, or mid-July through mid-September after a dry winter. By pushing it earlier or later, you are more likely to encounter heavy bug pressure, high-water hazards, and/or excessive snow; or you are at an increasing risk of being shut down by an early winter storm.

      Winter storms only become more probably as you go into September, and melt off more slowly. But I think anything in September is fair game; October is much less reliable. Early- or late-August would make no difference.

      If you did the SHR in 16 days, 10 sounds about right for the WRHR. It’s a bit slower: less on-trail travel, less friendly footing on average, and higher risk of a weather delay.

      If you need to commit to dates long before the trip, my recommendation is always to have a backup plan in the event of bad weather. That can happen in any month of the year, and it will shut down the route for a day, maybe two, usually not three. If you can cherry-pick your window by blocking out a 3-week span and starting as soon as the weather window looks good, then you have a higher chance of completing your primary objective.

  13. Mateo February 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    A.S. An interesting bit of localism from the “Locals”…I understand their frustration coming from a surfing background. However, good or bad our world is smaller now and solitude has become a more ardent pursuit than even 10-20 years ago. A disappointing way to vent via an electronic public venue. Why not man up and meet to discuss or even a side bar convo.

    Possibly a well intentioned duo but I can’t subscribe to their method.

    El Mateo

  14. Dane April 1, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

    Hi Andrew,
    I just purchased the guide and am planning a thru-hike of the High Route in mid-July. Do you think the snow coverage at that time of year (particularly after a stormy winter like we’ve had) will merit bringing gaiters? I’d like to save the weight but also would hate to end up postholing through snow fields and soaking the inside of my boots.

    • Andrew Skurka April 2, 2017 at 7:20 am #

      The Winds have been clobbered this winter and the snow will linger late, and in some patches it will stick around all year.

      By mid-July the snow is consolidated so that you can walk atop it, and will not sink in or posthole. So gaiters are not necessary. I like to wear lightweight trail gaiters anyway, however, because they help keep crap out of my shoes, and thus improve foot health.

      You would be well served to read this series on early-season conditions. I have been focusing on the High Sierra, but everything is applicable to the Winds, too.

      • Dane April 2, 2017 at 11:34 am #

        Thanks for the fast response! I just read your post on early-season fords, which is another concern of mine. Are there any particularly difficult fords to be aware of along the primary high route? I’d like to try to camp as close to the worst ones as possible to be able to cross them as early as possible.

        • Jonathan Ratner April 2, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

          The bridge across the Little Sandy washed out last spring. That’s not the greatest early season

        • Andrew Skurka April 2, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

          The Guide addresses them specifically, so I won’t go crazy here. In general, fords are not a huge problem on the High Route because you are almost always high in the watersheds, before water has had a chance to really collect.

          That said, be careful in the Bull Lake Creek drainages (South, Middle and North Forks). The South Fork is below Photo Pass. Just cross it early and it won’t be a problem. The Middle Fork drains into Golden Trout Lakes, and its velocity might surprise you. The unnamed tributary of North Fork that drains Knife Edge Glacier is decently sized, but you should be able to find a safe spot. Finally, there is the North Fork itself. It’s the biggest of them all, but there are some safe ways through.

          The last one is Dinwoody Creek. It can be safely crossed via the rock moraine, if it’s too big where it emerges.

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