Tom’s experience climbing Gannett Peak:
Gannett peak is the highest point in Wyoming and is often considered the most difficult state highpoint in the lower 48 states. Located in the Wind Rivers, Gannett is among some of the prettiest mountains I’ve ever seen.
Getting anywhere in the Wind Rivers is difficult as there are often many steep passes between you and your destination. We approached Gannett from the West along the Pole Creek Trail.
From the Pole Creek Trailhead you will need to hike 16-18 miles to the Titcomb Basin. The trail doesn’t gain a ton of elevation overall during this stretch but it does go up and down quite a bit making the trek a little difficult.
Our goal was to get to Titcomb on day one, summit day two and head back to the trail head on day three. Along the way to Titcomb you will pass multiple beautiful lakes but the best part is definitely Titcomb Basin.
My dad always says that the Wind Rivers has some of the best scenery in the world it just takes 15 to 20 miles until you get to it from any trailhead. I have found that to be pretty much the case on my trips here. We set up camp at Titcomb Basin.
If you want to camp close to Lower Titcomb Lake thats fine but will make summit day longer and more challenging. If you are concerned about time and energy on summit day you may want to camp closer to the base of Bonnie Pass.
We decided to camp near Lower Titcomb so that we wouldn’t have to carry our backpacks as far in day one and three but it did make summit day more difficult. Either way there are plenty of excellent campsites all around both lakes.
On summit day be sure you wake up early. We left our campsite at 3:15 but we were at the far end of Titcomb. I would suggest being on the pass as early as possible so that you are hiking up ice instead of slush. You will climb up Bonnie Pass which was covered in snow and very steep. It almost appeared as a mountain itself.
We reached the top of Bonnie right at dawn and was able to watch the sun rise from there and got our first view of Gannett. From here we regrouped and planned out our route to the summit. The trail is mostly snow with a few rocky scrambles up Gannett. You will head around the backside of the rocks you can see from Bonnie and head towards the Bergschrund. The Bergschrund is usually the most dangerous part of the mountain. When we were climbing, there was plenty of snow and we didn’t feel like we were in too much danger. However the glaciers are very steep and ice axes and crampons are necessary.
Most groups were also roped up however we weren’t after we talked to a few groups who also thought it wasn’t necessary. The views from the summit are gorgeous and we really enjoyed our time on top. We also got cell service so it was fun sending summit photos to loved ones. We headed back down the mountain over Bonnie and back towards our tent. From the Titcomb base of Bonnie Pass to the summit of Gannett and back to the base of the Pass took us about 11 hours round trip with a few pretty decent brakes. However we passed multiple groups that took over 17 hours for the same stretch. We camped that night and headed out after a great nights rest the next day.
Total round trip mileage was about 40 miles with total elevation gain of about 9050′. Dogs are allowed in the Wind Rivers. We were very lucky that the weather was so good for us the whole time and the snow was in such great condition.
Trail Info: The trailhead starts right next to a campground and there is a ton of parking available. From Pinedale, Wyoming, head towards head towards Fremont Lake. Eventually the road will change to Skyline Drive. The road was in poor condition when we went but any vehicle should be able to make it to the trailhead. The road will turn to dirt and the trailhead is on the left right near the change to dirt. There are outhouses at the trailhead and plenty of sings to get you to the Pole Creek Trailhead.
Pole Creek Trailhead: 43.003313,-109.751809
Titcomb Basin: 43.121159,-109.635143
Bonnie Pass: 43.163871,-109.63789
Gannett Peak Summit: 40.45961,-112.626288
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