Wind River Range, early September---how to prepare for weather


Mar 1, 2015
I am planning a trip in the Wind River range at the beginning of September (from 9/2 - 9/6). I keep hearing people say that this time of year can be the best for the Winds as long as you are prepared for the weather. My question is, what exactly do I need to do to be "prepared for the weather"? I have backpacked a fair amount, but never in the snow (although I have day-hiked in the snow many times). I will try to have a flexible enough route that we can be delayed a day for weather and still make it back out on time, but other than that, I don't really know what special precautions I should be taking. As such, I have the following questions:

1. Does anyone have any recommended tips for checking the weather in the Winds? Any best websites or locations to enter? Any tips for how far in advance the forecast there is reliable? I will probably be in the Titcomb basin area, but maybe I'll hit the Cirque area instead. In general, should I plan for minimum temps of 25 degrees or so?

2. I will be hiking with my brother and we will have the two shelters shown in the attached photo. The tarp is a Bearpaw Lair (similar to the zpacks hexamid). Will these shelters be adequate? I have no idea what would happen if it snows a bunch on these.

3. I'm assuming I don't need to bring microspikes, gaiters, or anything else specifically to deal with snow?

4. This is not actually a weather-related question, but if you've read this far, you must know the Winds, so... Do I need bear spray?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

(photo of my shelters attached—if it would be foolish to bring either of these to the Winds in September, please let me know!)tents.jpg
Coincidently, I'll be up there Sept 6-10.

Just my two cents - I've spend a fair amount of time in the Winds including 20-25 nights this year. When people talk about frequently changing weather in other ranges I chuckle to myself because I haven't seen weather change like in the Winds. The first thing to know is that most storms blow through pretty quickly. It is rare to have one last for more than a few hours. The second thing to know is that in my experience, the storms almost always seem to hit in the afternoon. I prefer to not backpack in the rain so we usually either try to be into camp by 2 or 3 pm (plus we like to fish) or at least be aware that we may need to quickly pitch a tent should a storm hit.

Like most ranges, it can snow any time of year and I have seen snow in every summer month. WIth the storms generally not lasting long though, it usually melts fairly quickly. I spent this last weekend up there (4-day trip with my 6-year-old) and we had a lightening storm the first night, nothing the second, hail on the third day and rain the third night. My best advice is just be ready for it. The only time I really get concerned is on a high pass or mountain top. I did spend a night on top of Osborne in a thunder/lightening storm and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life.

I think your shelters would work fine. Again, just be ready for rain, possibly hail and maybe snow. Unless you are climbing peaks, I woudln't worry about spikes, axes, etc. As for weather, I haven't found many websites to be useful. I joke that I could be Winds weatherman because all you have to say is "30% chance of rain" and you're usually right. Hopefully someone else has a good website they can post. As for bears, I haven't carried bear spray. I've never seen a bear in the Winds and seen very little signs of them. I do carry a bear vault for my food though and hang whatever doesn't fit in the vault. I carry it as much for little critters as bears. That being said, I believe there have been confirmed grizzly sightings at the North end and unconfirmed sightings in the middle of the range. I'm sure someone else has more accurate information than that.
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Thanks Lincsco! I guess I'll stop worrying so much about the forecast and start worrying more about getting to camp early.
I don't know the Winds, but I've packed and camped a lot in Colorado's San Juans, which are really unpredictable and also high altitude. The main thing is to have waterproof clothing you can put on to stay dry, and a warm layer for underneath so you don't get hypothermic. I have a lightweight Goretex jacket with a warm down hoodie I can wear under it. A nice wool hat can help stay warm at night or if it snows, as well as a pair of wool socks. Make sure your tent doesn't leak and carry a few nylon patches. Stay warm and dry and all will be well.
That's interesting that you mentioned the San Juans---the Weminuche is my plan B if the weather in the Winds looks bad!
There's a good chance the monsoon pattern will have settled down or even stopped by then, in which case the unpredictability isn't much of a problem anymore and the forecasts should be pretty helpful. With that said, it's September and you should still be prepared for anything.
I've been up visiting the Winds for 1-3wks in Sept for 17 years. 25 degrees - yes, entirely possible. I use a 10-degree down bag and NeoAir Xlite with a Skyscape Trekker and haven't had an issue, even with hail and 2" of snow. More snow might be an issue. One thing is to be prepared for heavy wind. Pick sheltered spots and guy out. I use low gaiters mostly for mud. Wouldn't worry too much about microspikes, etc as the snow melts off fairly fast.

It's low density, mostly black bear on the way to Cirque. High traffic areas usually means bears stay away, unless someone before you left some food out. It only takes 1 mauling to ruin your day. Your choice. Check with F&G and FS in town before leaving.

If the NWS says 20% chance down in Pinedale, you could still get nailed up there.

Enjoy! Looking forward to my trip out there Sep 7-Oct 1.