Younts Peak (Teton/Washakie Wilderness) - July 2022


"The mountains don't care."
Feb 15, 2020
Ever since last year's trip through the Southern Absaroka, I've been itching to give Younts Peak another shot. Being the not very patient man I am, I made plans to head back out there on my first trip of the summer. I made a post in the Meet Up forum and was fortunate to have @travel2walk and @mike_offerman join me. I had hiked with @travel2walk previously in the Gros Ventre, but was meeting @mike_offerman for the first time - both are great people that I hope to hike with again.

I've had a serious slump in regards to grizzly sightings the last few years, but I'm happy to report that slump has ended spectacularly. I saw a total of 11 grizzlies on this trip - @travel2walk and @mike_offerman saw 14, but who's counting? I also got the the top of Crescent Mountain, Wall Mountain, and Younts Peak - all goals from last year's trip that I'd hoped to revisit. To top it off our weather was spectacular and we didn't see any humans further out than a couple miles from the trailhead.

Day 1: Crescent Mountain (12.9mi / +4,127' / -2,946')
After driving up from Colorado together, we were on trail by mid-morning - our primary goal of the day was to traverse the summit ridge of Crescent Mountain as we made progress towards Younts. After climbing to the Continental Divide from Bonneville Pass we made our way towards Crescent. We had a little weather scare as thunderclouds built up in the direction of the Tetons, but our luck held as it circled well around without driving us from the summit.

Just before dropping off of the Crescent Mountain plateau we found a nicely melting snowfield and set up camp. In bad weather it might have been a tenuous spot, but with an excellent overnight forecast it made for a great night's sleep.

First arriving at Bonneville Pass.
Bonneville Pass from above.

On our way up Crescent Mountain.
Views from the summit of Crescent Mountain.
First night's camp.

Day 2: Wall Mountain (15.9mi / +3,957' / -3,862')
Today our group would split up and take separate routes - planning to join back up near Marston Pass. I was set on getting to the top of Wall Mountain, while @mike_offerman had his eyes on another high point directly on the Continental Divide, and @travel2walk took a route similar to mine from last year. It was along this route that he spotted the first grizzlies of our trip - a sow with two cubs - which he scared over a ridge where they were spotted by @mike_offerman who reported they ran for at least a mile after their terrifying encounter with the fearsome @travel2walk.

I was unaware of any of that excitement as I trudged up the south side of Wall Mountain. I first went to the high point south of Wall at 11,258' before dropping to the snowfield between for a quick lunch and then made my way to the summit. Coming from the south is quite an experience when you top out, because after a relatively mild grade the world just falls away almost 3,000' to Marston Creek. With the relatively rotten rock up there, I gave that ledge healthy respect.

I then went down the very wet western slope of Wall Mountain back towards the Divide, the Buffalo Plateau, and eventually Marston Pass where I met back up with the others. From there we hiked together a bit before arriving at our base camp for Younts the following day.



Younts Peak (left) and Thorofare Mountain (right) from Wall Mountain.
Teton Range in the distance.
Throughout the trip there were sizeable herds of elk above treeline - they were skittish and would quickly race to the next ridgeline to monitor our approach.

Lost Creek drainage.
Looking back at Wall Mountain (center) from Marston Pass.

Day 3: Younts Peak (13.2mi / +4,232' / -4,518')
In the morning we departed for our primary goal of the trip - Younts Peak. Supposedly "the most remote peak in the Lower 48", Younts has a topographic prominence of ~2,200 and had been visible to us for most of the prior two days. After missing out on this one last year, I was very excited to get to the top - especially in the fantastic conditions we'd been gifted.

And even better was seeing the seven grizzlies congregated directly below the peak - there appeared to be two boars (one significantly larger) and two sows with a total of three cubs. We spotted the large boar first - though he clearly knew of our presence, he just ambled away lazily. As he approached the area where the others were gathered, we observed some excitement. Next we spotted the smaller boar - upon the larger bear's arrival he took off climbing a very steep wall of snow/ice with ease. It was one of the more impressive things I've ever seen - by the time he was done he was nearly to the summit ridge. Then - as he was climbing - the two sows took notice of the larger boar and shuffled their cubs off the the edges of the bowl - one turning to give a roar of warning to the large boar. Throughout it all the large boar never became visibly agitated or interested in the others, but it could not have been more clear that this was his territory - the others visited at his pleasure. All in all one of the coolest wildlife interactions I've been lucky enough to witness in the backcountry. (My pictures are mediocre - I was just using a phone and mostly too distracted to focus on pictures anyway.)

We would reach the summit ridge via a ramp in the middle of the southwest ridge - there was a very short Class 3 section, but that could be avoided completely by continuing on to the end of the ridge. From there it was simply a matter of walking up the southwest ridge. @mike_offerman was eyeballing the southeast ridge as a fun option, but without any beta we didn't want to risk getting turned around. Instead we investigated the route on our way down and found that it is in fact a very fun option - definitely some Class 3 sections and a decent amount of exposure, so I'd probably still suggest the southwest ridge to most.

South side of Younts Peak.
The large boar ambling away from us.
At this point the large boar is among the boulders at center - the smaller boar is a small dot near the middle of the picture. He would quickly race all of the way up the pictured ice/snow towards the summit ridge. A keen observer might be able to spot the sows/cubs towards the left of the bowl.
Sow with a single cub heading up the side of the bowl. The other sow is hard to pick out, but was heading the same direction on the rocks. It appeared that the two sows might have been co-mingling their cubs before the large boar's arrival, which isn't something I'd witnessed before.
Looking down into the bowl from above.
We made it!
Panorama including the north (right) and south (left/center) headwaters of the Yellowstone River.
Bear scat barely 20' down from the summit - those bears sure can climb. Found a few more piles along the way down.
Thorofare Mountain looking worthy of a future trip...
Looking back up the southeast ridge of Younts.
After Younts we packed up and began to make our way back to the trailhead. We sent a few more herds of elk headed towards Buffalo Plateau - including our only bull elk sighting of the trip, a bachelor group of four.

Day 4: Home (14.65mi / +2,687' / -3,734')
Our final day was primarily retracing our steps back to the trailhead, though we did circle Crescent Mountain instead of crossing the summit. It was as spectacular on the return trip as it was on the way in - I could walk these plateaus forever without getting tired of them.

Our final camp site before heading home.
One final treat awaited us on our way out - a grizzly sow with three small cubs. Being upwind she seemed unaware of our presence - at her cubs prompting she laid on her back and nursed all three cubs for a while. We circled wide around her as we continued on our way.

What a great way to kick off my summer backcountry season - maybe the bar has been set too high? Now to reset and get ready for the next one!
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Glad your grizzly drought has ended. :) I hope to be headed up that way the first week of August.
Thanks for the report on some great looking country to wander in. That's a lot of bears in one spot!
Ugh this has me so sad I missed this one. What an awesome trip!! Amazing scenery and wildlife, as expected!
Great Trip Report and Thanks For Posting! Happy for you on all the Grizzly Bear sightings. Love that country! Thanks for all the good photos. The bears are always near Younts Peak for it is a Cutworm Moth site.

As for myself am back in Jackson after a year of traveling all over. Thinking of being back into these wild parts of NW Wyoming until the snow flies come the fall. This is Great Country!

Again Thanks for this trip report and best to you!
Wow, sounds like just about the perfect trip, glad it went so well for y'all. Very envious!
Great trip and scenery. Glad the griz encounters were all of the distant kind.
beautiful country, thanks for sharing
This one is on my list too, maybe for next year. I want to get down into the North Fork though. As I understand it, there is a reasonable route down into the North Fork from the pass between Younts Peak and Thorofare Mountain.
The trail down from the pass as Scatman said is not difficult at all. It is Great! Have done it a multiple of times. The head basin of the North Fork of the Yellowstone is really gorgeous! In times past there used to be a trail up the North Fork. Parts of this trail might still be visible in places. There is a nice campsite in the Upper North Fork right near the infant stream which have stayed at. Also there is a subdrainage here that has a route, that some outfitters used to use, that goes over to the head of the Thorofare Creek or River. Lots of Wild and Great Country in here all over in this area. Good and Wild Country that someone on purpose could easily vanish into all spring, summer, and fall and live well!
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