Gannett Peak in One Day
August 8, 2004
(from the Green River Lakes trail head, and via Wells Creek)

      Gannett Peak (13,804 feet) is the highest peak in Wyoming and one of the most challenging of the state high-points due to the long approaches and difficult climbing required. The standard route (from Elkhart Basin via Dinwoody Pass) is about 50 miles round trip, and the shortest route is probably 35 miles.  Buzz Burrell and I decided to give it a go. Studying maps and route descriptions was confusing, so eventually we just picked what seemed to be the shortest route. Starting at 3:00 a.m. from the Green River Lakes trail head at 8,000 feet we would jog 12+ miles up the Green on a basically flat trail, then leave the trail and negotiate the Wells Creek drainage into a large basin below the peak.

We started running up the flat trail at 3a.m.

Leaving the trail we crossed the Green on some slippery logs.

Lower Wells Creek was all rock hopping.

"The Cleft" looms above, this is supposed to be the crux.

      At first the Cleft was a lot of fun, rock hoping and scrambling right next to a beautiful cascade. But, about halfway up we were pinched off between the un-crossable creek and a cliff. The only route forward was 100+ feet 5th class climbing on exposed slabs. All we had for protection was about 80 feet of 5mm kevlar cord. Buzz free-soloed the route and then belayed me up in a couple of pitches.

Reaching the top of The Cleft we were finally in the sun!

And, we finally got a view of the objective.

We picked our way around Many Bug Lake and Scott Lake, and strolled through some beautiful alpine meadows at 10,000 feet

We crossed Minor Glacier and ascended a couloir on some steep snow. The top of The Cleft is visable at the far end of the lakes at the top right of this photo.

No need for water treatment here...

We don't have glaciers like this in Colorado!

There was even a glacier right on top of the peak.

We made the summit a bit before 1 p.m., 9:40 after starting. The weather was fantastic!

Heading back down wasn't exactly fast.

We rapped the crux on a single strand of 5mm!

Back into the valley of the Green the Sun was already slipping away

It took us over 18 hours to complete the route! What a day!

Peter Bakwin HOME