Wind River Mountain Conditions 2019

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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
96
Jackson---thanks for the conditions report! I'm doing some last-minute planning for my trip (which will take place this wed-sun), and am leaning towards a route similar to yours. I'm thinking of camping in desolation valley (East fork) one night and then going over Hailey pass the next day. If you have a chance, would you mind answering these questions since you were just there? (Any others please come in as well!)

1. Do you know if one can cut directly from the north side of pyramid lake to Hailey pass, basically traversing North of pyramid peak? That would avoid dropping all the way back down to the pyramid/Hailey trail junction.

2. Is the road to big Sandy trailhead currently doable in a minivan? In an outback? (I would prefer to take the minivan if possible)

3. My tentative route will go over Hailey pass, Macon lake pass, will ascend from South fork lakes to the lizard head trail, and finally return via jackass pass (an ambitious route for me that will depend on good weather). Would you recommend bringing an ice axe for this route? Microspikes?

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

Jackson

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Jackson---thanks for the conditions report! I'm doing some last-minute planning for my trip (which will take place this wed-sun), and am leaning towards a route similar to yours. I'm thinking of camping in desolation valley (East fork) one night and then going over Hailey pass the next day. If you have a chance, would you mind answering these questions since you were just there? (Any others please come in as well!)

1. Do you know if one can cut directly from the north side of pyramid lake to Hailey pass, basically traversing North of pyramid peak? That would avoid dropping all the way back down to the pyramid/Hailey trail junction.

2. Is the road to big Sandy trailhead currently doable in a minivan? In an outback? (I would prefer to take the minivan if possible)

3. My tentative route will go over Hailey pass, Macon lake pass, will ascend from South fork lakes to the lizard head trail, and finally return via jackass pass (an ambitious route for me that will depend on good weather). Would you recommend bringing an ice axe for this route? Microspikes?

Thanks!
1. Unfortunately, I'm not too sure. The ascent looks like it shouldn't be a problem. Descent looks steeper but probably doable? I'd expect some snow on the descent though. There was a good amount just on our descent of Hailey Pass. That's the pass on the left.
IMG_20190714_141533.jpg



2. You could definitely get there in either vehicle. It has some good pot holes and big rocks sticking out, but I always think about whether my Civic could make it up the roads I drive to trailheads, and I was pretty confident I could do it if I drove it carefully. So a minivan should be fine. Just drive aware because some of those potholes, hit at high speed, could be a bad deal.

3. You could bring microspikes just in case, since those north-facing ascents on your route will likely have some snow still. I didn't use mine when we were on snow though because the snow seemed to be at the point where it would just ball up on the spikes and make walking harder. We just used trekking poles for stability and potential self-arrest and no one ended up sliding anyway. There's definitely going to be a lot less snow now because of the warm temperatures we've had all over the past week, and it'll still be warm this coming week. So if it were me, I'd skip the axe and pack the spikes. But I'm also not terribly experienced or well-versed in that and someone else could probably give you more certain advice.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
96
1. Unfortunately, I'm not too sure. The ascent looks like it shouldn't be a problem. Descent looks steeper but probably doable? I'd expect some snow on the descent though. There was a good amount just on our descent of Hailey Pass. That's the pass on the left.
View attachment 79869


2. You could definitely get there in either vehicle. It has some good pot holes and big rocks sticking out, but I always think about whether my Civic could make it up the roads I drive to trailheads, and I was pretty confident I could do it if I drove it carefully. So a minivan should be fine. Just drive aware because some of those potholes, hit at high speed, could be a bad deal.

3. You could bring microspikes just in case, since those north-facing ascents on your route will likely have some snow still. I didn't use mine when we were on snow though because the snow seemed to be at the point where it would just ball up on the spikes and make walking harder. We just used trekking poles for stability and potential self-arrest and no one ended up sliding anyway. There's definitely going to be a lot less snow now because of the warm temperatures we've had all over the past week, and it'll still be warm this coming week. So if it were me, I'd skip the axe and pack the spikes. But I'm also not terribly experienced or well-versed in that and someone else could probably give you more certain advice.
Thanks for the prompt and thorough response! If anyone else has opinions/input on questions 1&3, please chime in!
 

Ugly

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Thanks for the prompt and thorough response! If anyone else has opinions/input on questions 1&3, please chime in!
For #1, would depend on skill, pain and snow...
I didn't get a picture of it directly, but I recall thinking similar when I was looking at the map during an afternoon storm. It seems possible given what @Jackson showed from the other side. Here are two shots from that afternoon.
Pyramid peak is just off to the right. So the possible route seems a steep, scree fest at times?
Potential line would be something like this maybe? This would follow the gulley that topos show. There is also terrible camping on the north shore of Pyramid... or the whole area in general with that ugly Mt Hooker and Pyramid and Midsummer as well... blocking the view. :lol:
Wind Rivers Pyramid.PNG


This is why you cannot just go down south of that gulley from Pyramid. This almost overlaps with the pic above.
Wind Rivers Trip 8-160784.jpg
 

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Bob

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I looked on GE. Looks like a route to me.......but what do I know, I do interesting routes. Snow on the NE side would be the big factor this year. It appears you could contour to the pass above Twin Lks. Dont take my word... I HAVE NOT been there, dont do much around the cirque.....
 

b.stark

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If the snow isn't an issue, the Pyramid Lake to Hailey Pass route should go. Looked at it myself, just never had the opportunity to try it yet. Actually discussed it with @Dreamer when I met him on the top of Hailey Pass a couple years ago. I seem to recall that he's done it, but hopefully he'll chime in since he's been tagged.
 

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Walkin' Fool

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I'm planning a 5 day loop early next week similar to Jackson's (but returning via Lizard Head Plateau and Jackass Pass instead of Washakie), and I'm a little concerned that all the recent warm temps might lead to some dangerous fords. This'll be my first time in the Winds.... Any locals have an opinion on whether there will likely be unsafe creek crossings on that route next week? Thanks in advance!!
 

Jackson

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I'm planning a 5 day loop early next week similar to Jackson's (but returning via Lizard Head Plateau and Jackass Pass instead of Washakie), and I'm a little concerned that all the recent warm temps might lead to some dangerous fords. This'll be my first time in the Winds.... Any locals have an opinion on whether there will likely be unsafe creek crossings on that route next week? Thanks in advance!!
Fording shouldn't be much of an issue. None of our fords were that bad and the weather was warm during our trip. The snowpack is even lower now, probably mostly melted, so flows are certain to be even less than when we were there. Peak flow was probably very early July.

Here's the flow of the Big Sandy River at Farson over the past month.

And here's the flow of the Little Wind River over the past month.

Those are the two major rivers you'll be around, and most creeks you cross drain into them, so you can reasonably infer that most to all of the tributaries have had similar trend throughout July.

Hope you have an awesome trip!
 

Pianomover

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I’m going out via Big Sandy trailhead first week of September. We shall see what we shall see.
 

Walkin' Fool

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Fording shouldn't be much of an issue. None of our fords were that bad and the weather was warm during our trip. The snowpack is even lower now, probably mostly melted, so flows are certain to be even less than when we were there. Peak flow was probably very early July.

Here's the flow of the Big Sandy River at Farson over the past month.

And here's the flow of the Little Wind River over the past month.

Those are the two major rivers you'll be around, and most creeks you cross drain into them, so you can reasonably infer that most to all of the tributaries have had similar trend throughout July.

Hope you have an awesome trip!
Thank you for the info and links!! If no one's posted a recent conditions update when I get back, I'll make sure and drop a quick note.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
96
I just got back from my trip and most of the snow is gone. I went to East Fork, Hailey Pass, Baptiste Lake, Macon Lakes Pass, South Fork Lakes, then the Lizard Head trail down to the Cirque and back out. Phenomenal trip. I felt silly for carrying my ice axe as it wasn't remotely needed. There was snow on the North side of Hailey Pass but it was easily avoidable with no equipment. The route over the North saddle of Pyramid to Hailey pass did indeed go, and it was actually fairly easy (as far as that kind of thing goes); I think I used my hiking poles the entire way (if terrain gets steep or rocky enough, I will stow them to free up my hands for scrambling, but that wasn't needed). Stream crossings were never sketchy. Mosquitos were annoying but not as horrendous as I feared/anticipated; I came prepared with headnet and permethrin-soaked long sleeves though. Lots of people on the first stretch of trail, then absolutely nobody in all the best basins after that (other than the Cirque). I love the Winds!
 

OldBill

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Aug 18, 2015
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Looks like the same area as the 1988 Fayette L fire. Meadow L and Scab Ck THs are great to access middle Winds. There's also a small fire at Skull L that has that area posted as a warning, but not closed at this time.

 

Dreamer

off grid
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If the snow isn't an issue, the Pyramid Lake to Hailey Pass route should go. Looked at it myself, just never had the opportunity to try it yet. Actually discussed it with @Dreamer when I met him on the top of Hailey Pass a couple years ago. I seem to recall that he's done it, but hopefully he'll chime in since he's been tagged.
I’m late to the party as usual, and I’ll likely fall asleep on the couch. Yeah, that’s a go. Nothing scary.
 

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