Southern Wind River Range - Texas Pass on Aug 11th


Aug 14, 2012
In 2013 I attempted to hike in the Cirque of the Towers area, but had to pull out on the 2nd day because one member had a bad sinus infection, and another got AMS. The rest of us salvaged the trip by spending 4 days in the Tetons.

I'm headed back in 2015, but have to go about 2 weeks earlier due to work vacation scheduling.

Should I expect a problem crossing over Texas Pass on August 11th? I realize conditions may depend on the amount of snow this year, etc. But is it generally a dangerous pass if there's some snow up there?

Would anyone recommend taking microspikes as a precaution? Ice axes?

I read Andrew Skurka's 2014 blog about attempting a Wind River Range high route. he had to turn back from Bonney Pass up near Titcomb Basin because the pass was icy and they didn't bring microspikes or crampons. I'd hate to find myself in a similar situation. He was in the Winds on the 1st week of August.

However, he did write about Texas Pass:

the consensus southern entrance/exit over Texas Pass near Big Sandy is underwhelming, lacking technical challenge, novelty, or a climatic view that offers inspiration to northbounders or a sense of accomplishment for southbounders.
Bonney Pass is way different than Texas Pass, I'd say no problem for Texas ..... but depends on the weather, micro spikes weigh next to nothing if you are worried about conditions. We did from South to North (115miles), mostly off trail and went thru Texas Pass later in Aug, was snow on the top. (Check out the resource section for my route). Don't go with what one person (Skurka) says, get info from local hikers (like on this board). You can get to the cirque (overrated) other ways.

What kind of route (trip) are you looking at?
You are unlikely to have problems with snow at Texas in August in my experience. But it depends on the snow year it gets and somewhat on your experience. Bob is right, Microspikes are light and good insurance. If you are doing the Circus circumambulation you can just reverse your loop if it looks too scary. It is about half way around.
That line by Skurka makes him sound like a smug SOB. I get he's a mad experienced hiker, but come on... If you're disappointed by anything about the scenery in either area, there is something wrong. I haven't done Texas Pass yet, but from what I've read, I'd agree that August would be fine and the weight of microspikes is worth avoiding the defeat of an unplanned out and back.
Here's my proposed itinerary:

Day 1 - Big Sandy over Jackass Pass to Cirque - up to Bear Lake. Picked partly for isolation from climbers and equestrians staying in the Cirque
Day 2 - Bear Lake to Loch Leven
Day 3 - Loch Leven past Grave Lake to Baptiste Lake
Day 4 - Baptiste Lake over Hailey Pass, south to Washakie Creek, east to Shadow Lake
Day 5 - Shadow Lake over Texas pass into Cirque, over Jackass Pass, and south to Deep Lake
Day 6 - Day Hike up East Temple Peak
Day 7 - Hike out to Big Sandy

Caltopo map with route:

We'll be spending a night in Pinedale, a night at Half-Moon lake NE of Pinedale, and a night at Big Sandy before hitting the trial.
S****a is in it to make money......... he found a niche to do that in.

jjcmwill...... have you looked at Sweetwater TH just to the east. Different country than the trodden Big Sandy route. That's where we started from, less crowded until you get to the Ice Lake area. Can go up Fremont Peak along the way from Tayo lake. On the return from a straight shot SE from Temple Lake, back up across near Coon Lake and out to Sweetwater TH.
Have you ran the daily mileage? Seems like some long miles days.. I plan 7 map miles usually runs in to about 10 actual miles. That's a hard day in the WInds. Route looks decent tho. I look closer ......
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Skurka can go suck my balls.

Listen to Bob, Art, Nick, and anyone else on backcountrypost that gives you advice. And several other sites that will give you much better advice than that guy as well.
Joey - Have we ever met before? If not, your crudity seems difficult to explain. Hopefully we do meet sometime -- I'm optimistic that you'll determine that I'm actually a pretty decent human being.

LOL. I think we hike for completely different reasons.

I'm sure in real life your a cool dude. Perhaps we will cross paths one day.

Just leave the ego and entitlement behind.

And yes, I'm biting my tongue. Enjoy your time man. You have marketed yourself well, and people are buying it.
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That line by Skurka makes him sound like a smug SOB. I get he's a mad experienced hiker, but come on... If you're disappointed by anything about the scenery in either area, there is something wrong. I haven't done Texas Pass yet, but from what I've read, I'd agree that August would be fine and the weight of microspikes is worth avoiding the defeat of an unplanned out and back.

In Andrew's defense, he has done some crazy and cool trips with a wide variety of terrain and views from which he can compare to. But it sounds like he was comparing against some of the other views you get from many of the other passes further north in the Winds and that in his opinion, there are better views from some of those other passes those and for those who can make the more technical climbs up other ridges.

I don't yet understand the animosity some here have with Andrew. I'm pretty impressed with many of the trips he's done, and in watching some of the the videos on YouTube with him speaking about some of his trips and gear he used, I found them to be pretty informative and enjoyable. His grizz encounter up in Alaska is always good for a laugh on YouTube. Scary experience to be sure at the time, and I can only wonder if he'd now reconsider carrying some bear spray on such a trip.

From what I've seen of him, he seems like he'd be a pretty nice guy to meet. I don't think I'd enjoy hiking with him though. His 10 mph pace would leave me in the dust. :( I have found nothing from him to be offended by. If he's making a bit of money selling some books and with speaking engagements, good for him. If I could make some extra money with my trips and adventures or be sponsored with gear by some good brands, that would be a blessing. To be sure, he's not a go to source for all things backpacking, but who is? Given the trips he's survived and thrived through though, I trust he has some good experience under his belt now and knows a thing or two about calculated risks and decision-making when it comes to advice and recommendations for those into ultralight power-hiking, which is his niche.

With that said, it doesn't appear that he's spent a whole lot of time in the Winds. @jjmcwill, as has been said, there are members of this forum here, such as @Bob, who are much more intimately familiar with the Winds. I would value any of their advice on routes up there and possible variations to your proposed itinerary. I don't have much experience with the Winds myself yet, but for what it's worth, you can also do a search on YouTube for "Texas Pass" + "Cirque of the Towers" and look for videos people have posted of their excursions up there at that time of year and get a feel for what conditions look like up there. If the Winds are looking anything like the Uintas this winter, and this summer is normal to warmer than normal, I'm sure you'd have no trouble with snow up there on that pass in August.
I think you will find most on this forum get out for the love of it, pausing to enjoy the scenery, the wildlife and the moment. Most freely give any info on things away for free. I suppose if you fly through areas and 'enjoy it' that's fine. Personally I found the one book (of yours) I actually read 'hikers guide' or some such to be not of much value, at least to me. Maybe because I grew into backpacking before it was 'fashionable' and learned by hard knocks what worked. But I do hand it to you (Andrew) for your marketing skills and finding your niche, especially of a way to make money. Albeit, when people think of someone as the last word in things, that's when trouble comes to the unwary or unlearned. I am not saying you are a crappy person, it's just the flair that is projected.

I would welcome your (Andrew) contribution to this forum with insights, reports or comments from you. I am sure Nick will keep us in line if we get out of hand. He runs a great forum, quite unlike other forums around.
Could be ghost writer ...........................
@WasatchWill , this has nothing to do with animosity.

This guy has done some cool stuff. Hardcore. Props to him. I look at everything he says with an open mind. He also markets himself very well. Lots of people are out there doing amazing stuff, and you don't know about it because they aren't publicizing it.

I hike for the experience, for the adventure, for the love of being out there. I could care less if anyone even notices me.

I don't hike for achievement, or accomplishment, or to be known, or to make money. It's not about me, its about the places I go.

This guy has built up an image, and people buy into what he says because of that. He runs through places (to each there own), and people take what he says about those places as solid information. He's making a living, and I don't fault him for that at all. I just don't always agree with what he says.

MY comments are based on how he has acted out of the spotlight. That has obviously caused me to not think of him the same way that you do.
I'm flattered that you think someone would pretend to be me. But since the cashiers at my local REI still fail to recognize me or pronounce my last name correctly, I'd be more doubtful.
Sorry, I wouldn't know you if you knocked on my door. And people hardly ever pronounce my name correctly either. Wonders can be done on the internet.....just sayin'
Strange to sit here and discuss someone now that we actually know they're reading it! Ha! Okay, but seriously, I admire anyone who can make a living doing what they love. If it's outdoors-related, it's even more impressive.

As for me, there is no animosity. Anyone who shrugs off scenery like that as mediocre just seems smug to me. Plain and simple. Maybe that quote was a little out of context, or maybe I've been tainted from spending a little too much time around some other 'rock stars' of the outdoor community that just rubbed me the wrong way. Folks who really looked down on places that weren't up to their standards because of all the other places they've been. I can empathize I suppose - my love for the scenery in the Uintas for example might not be as strong after exploring the Winds, but I still absolutely love it.

I'm really curious Andrew, how did you stumble upon this thread?
No NIck, the Uinta's are great in their own right just as the desert or the wetlands.....etc.
@jjmcwill -

My apologies for hijacking your post. I wonder if you knew by mentioning my name that you'd drag out the haters.

Re Texas Pass, by mid-August after a normal winter (which this has been thus far, but it could change), snow should not be an issue. Of course, there a personal consideration here, i.e. your snow travel comfort and experience, but I struggle to think that it would be a challenge for anyone who is even considering Texas Pass. I have been over Texas Pass twice, in late-July 2007 and September 2009 (with a relatively inexperienced group). I don't recall an issue either time. Last summer Buzz, Peter, and I went over New York Pass in early-August after a very wet winter. Texas is a little bit further west in the Cirque and it is a more direct line over the Divide. There is a steep snowfield immediately below the pass, but there a nice route that cuts up and left into the pass across some tundra ledges. Texas and New York are entirely different than Bonney, which appeared to be borderline mountaineering, not Class 2 backpacking.

Re my comments on Texas Pass, please put them into some larger context, as my intention certainly wasn't to come off as smug. There have been some attempts to establish a Wind River High Route, and they all route it over Texas Pass and out to Big Sandy. In consideration of the available terrain further south -- namely in the form of Wind River Peak -- I think Texas Pass is an anticlimatic finish. Don't get me wrong, it's a great pass, incredibly scenic, and perhaps the very first "off-trail" pass that I ever did, while on the CDT in 2007. But it's not a worthy terminus to "the" Wind River High Route. I'd say the same about the proposed northernmost pass, Knapsack. Again, a great pass, but the northernmost pass on the Wind River High Route? It would seem like the route has to jump over the Divide again and explore the range's northeast glaciers and valleys.