Trip Report
6 Days of Mountaineering in Titcomb Basin, Wyoming
Sunday December 29, 2013 6:04pm
Credit: mushroom
After waiting nearly two weeks on a truck repair, our pair finally got their resources together and made the drive from Cody to Pinedale, WY. What was on the list??? Sending the big peaks of Wyoming deep in the Wind River Range. On the list was Mt. Helen and Fremont Peak, both in Titcomb Basin, the 5th and 3rd tallest peaks respectively in Wyoming!

Credit: mushroom
As is typical with this pair, the start was late, especially considering the 11 miles of trail on the list of things to do for the day! Luckily, waking up late and still crushing trail miles was easy work for this strong pair, as it had been for this entire road trip.

Credit: mushroom
The Wind River Range is phenomenal in its beauty! The trail winded through dense forest, past countless alpine lakes and incredible vistas. We marched with packs weighing about 30lbs, loaded up with food for 6 days, a tent, an 8mm climbing rope, and a small rack of cams and nuts as well as a pair of mountaineering axes and crampons.

Credit: mushroom
We arrived just in time! Pending thunderstorms had been building in the West behind us. Ugly clouds began mounting as we faced the final mile of trail. Ana requested kindly of the weather gods to give us just a few more minutes, and it paid off! Just as the rain came pouring down, we find a small grove of Doug fir trees to nestle under. We pulled out a light tarp, huddled under it, and took a much deserved nap/rest as the squall passed through. Finally, we pulled out the tent and established camp at one of the most beauuuuuuuuutiful places of my life!!!

Credit: mushroom
The next morning we rose bright and early! The rain of the night put snow caps on our mountains, but we knew this was the day to make it up Frement. We began our approach early in the morning, weaving between clouds, up and down hills and past a lake on our approach to the Class III ridge of Fremont.

Credit: mushroom
At the base of the class III climbing, we realized we had a perfect window in the weather. Clouds had built up deep in Titcomb Basin, but Fremont was sitting in between. Climb and climb we did, slowly but surely making progress up rocky Fremont Peak toward its summit.

Credit: mushroom
Success! We hacked our way all the way to the top of the class III slope, working around icy cracks and exposed ledges to the ridge, where we made a final traverse to the summit. Great smiles, eh??! Ana was suffering from lactose intolerance at the time of this picture.

Credit: mushroom
The top of Fremont afforded incredible views into the wild backcountry beyond. A rocky landscape covered in glaciers lay out for miles and miles in all directions.

Credit: mushroom
One of the more incredible parts of this ascent were how we managed to weave inbetween the storm clouds. By the time we descended from Fremont, it was getting slammed by weather. We wandered through the basin below in the sunshine, watching the chaos take place on Fremont and at our campsite, but of course the cloud cleared just in time for us to arrive home and dry.

That evening the clouds cleared and the milky way was out. We lay awake watching shooting stars and staring at a perfectly reflection of the cosmos in Island Lake. I was so full of energy I could barely sleep. Indeed this was a special place!

Credit: mushroom
The following day we awoke and decided to take the morning off. We occupied ourselves by drinking coffee, talking about our dreams and love for mother nature, skinny dipping in Island Lake, and making sweet tea from glacier melt water. The next morning we packed up camp for a 5 mile hike into Titcomb Basin proper!

Credit: mushroom
Another picturesque trail led deep into Titcomb Basin. Winding between boulder piles, up slabs, and past a cascade and more alpine lakes, we were getting closer to the promised land...

Credit: mushroom
Arriving in Titcomb Basin was pure ecstasy!!!! All around us were jagged, granite peaks. Glaciers dripped down their sides feeding azure blue lakes. All around us were incredible granite peaks, with unclimbed buttresses, walls, spires, and ridges everywhere you look.

Credit: mushroom
Everybody mentions it, and nobody is lying about it: the bugs are bad in the Winds! They come in sorties of the meanest squadrons of black flies and gnats. Clouds will surround you without warning and are relentless in their attacks. You have been warned!

Credit: mushroom
The next morning we awoke to more high-grade mountaineering! Today's objective was Mt. Helen, via the East Ridge, a Class IV Grade IV ascent. We began the day with a winding slog up a mountainside, sometimes climbing rock, sometimes grass, sometimes mungy gullies filled with rocks encased with mud and slime. This lead to thousands of feet of talus.

Credit: mushroom
Gaining the ridge, and descending to the backside we were confront with a glacier! No big deal, we wandered across this and into a steep half-snow-filled gully. I led this part with an axe and crampons, and Ana managed to safely follow with an axe and micro-spikes! It was a proud ascent of the most questionable part of the climb!

Credit: mushroom
The final class 4 ridge climb was incredibly fun! Easy scrambling up an exposed ridge provided the highlight of alpine climbing for the day.

Credit: mushroom
Skooooooooweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!! What a summit! This climb was incredible, the register was loaded with great stories from all sorts of groups, and we enjoyed a must deserved vista and tower all to ourselves. We were completely ecstatic! But a long descent was still in front of us, so we got on our way.

Credit: mushroom
This photo, taken from the top of the snow/rock gully was an exciting part of the downclimb. What you missed is Ana declaring, "I love loose gullies!" just before she made her descent.

Credit: mushroom
Finishing the down climb required a few rappels down waterfalls and frequent referencing of the beta-photo I took before we began, but we made it! This summit was a huge tick for both of us, and the source of top-notch adventure.

The next morning, we woke up late (as usual) and crushed 15 miles of trail in no time (also as usual) with plenty of daylight left to grab grub in town. Dude, climb the Winds!!!!!!!

  Trip Report Views: 4,401
About the Author
mushroom is a trad climber from USA.

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Q- Ball

Mountain climber
but to scared to climb them anymore
  Dec 29, 2013 - 06:09pm PT
Awesome report, Mt Helen is one of my favorites!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 29, 2013 - 07:14pm PT
BOO YAH! What an excellent adventure. Blue skies, splitter ridges and storybook meadows. Thanks so much for sharing your stoke with great photos. May you have many more days just like these in the years to come!


Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Dec 29, 2013 - 07:24pm PT
Excellent adventure!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Dec 29, 2013 - 07:36pm PT

Trad climber
Montuckyian Via Canada Eh!
  Dec 29, 2013 - 07:38pm PT
Nice trip report and thank you for sharing it...........


Trad climber
  Dec 29, 2013 - 08:20pm PT
good thing the winds are remote or they;d be crowded,,,,maybe the best alpine environment any where on earth,,,hope to see ya there,,

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
  Dec 29, 2013 - 09:43pm PT
Thank you for a report that is understated and terse; mercifully free of petty detail; a good reportage to photo ratio. Your trip succeeded because of its "go light" approach to gear. Your report succeeds on the same ground. Last summer's Wind's weather was more stormy than recent years during mid-August- mid-September; good you got up what you did! When do you go?

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Dec 29, 2013 - 11:17pm PT

Ahhhh, Titcomb Basin. Lovely after Labor Day. No bugs.
No people. No bad weather. . .

A sunset from there, in 1976. . .


Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Dec 30, 2013 - 01:08am PT

Trad climber
  Dec 30, 2013 - 01:24pm PT
Man, I've got to get in there !

Thanks for sharing the stoke!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Dec 30, 2013 - 01:32pm PT
We marched with packs weighing about 30lbs, loaded up with food for 6 days, a tent, an 8mm climbing rope, and a small rack of cams and nuts as well as a pair of mountaineering axes and crampons.


Grizzlyville, WY
  Dec 30, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
Nice! Wind love for sure!

Trad climber
  Dec 30, 2013 - 03:25pm PT

hearing about the bugs make me feel better about sitting here.

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Dec 30, 2013 - 06:26pm PT

The Wind Rivers--my favorite place in the world.

Social climber
  Dec 30, 2013 - 06:58pm PT
hey there say, mushroom... wow...

as to this:
The Wind River Range is phenomenal in its beauty! The trail winded through dense forest, past countless alpine lakes and incredible vistas.

i love these areas and only seen them mainly by pics, etc...

can't comment on the pics, yets, (dial up) when i get back later, with more time... will see them...

they sound just as wonderful as the trip report...

my twin buddies live in montana, and they are some great views of their own... but not such as this!

thanks for sharing... :)
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Dec 30, 2013 - 06:58pm PT
Way cool!
I worked a summer in Casper Wy. BITD but never made it into the Winds,
always wanted to though.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 30, 2013 - 09:24pm PT
Yeah the skeeters are bad, but worth the sacrifice,
way to get after it and thank you!!!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Dec 30, 2013 - 09:41pm PT
Steeple in the foreground with East Temple Spire up against East Templ...
Steeple in the foreground with East Temple Spire up against East Temple Peak in the background.
Credit: mike m

Social climber
  Dec 30, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
Like Steve W says, few bugs in the Titcomb come September. Even beter is mid-July or whenever winter leaves the Basin. The lakes are melting and turning over and fish as big as your forearm jump fairly into your skillet 'cuz they are HONGRY!

Plus no bugs.

TFPU. Prolly spent 30 days in the Titcomb over the years. Fremont's a hoot, eh.

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Dec 30, 2013 - 10:32pm PT
uhhhh!!!! ( my attempts at vocalizing music was a horrid failure, and edited away).

  Dec 31, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
What a beautiful place. Thanks for the TR.
Keith Leaman

Trad climber
  Jan 15, 2014 - 04:58pm PT
Nice TR mushroom. The 4th photo looks exactly like where we camped in Sept. '73 when I lead a group of 6 students in to climb Fremont and Ellingwood.

For some reason I packed an extra emergency tent in the 'Ultima Thule'. As we approached our campsite, the weather took a nasty turn and we were pummeled with several inches of snow, freezing rain and high winds.

With daylight fading, we quickly hunkered down and began dinner when one of the student tents suddenly exploded into flames and completely burned in about 5 seconds. (His dog had knocked over the cooking stove). No one was too seriously burned. With the wet freezing night ahead of us I broke out the propitious extra tent.

Like Mike M's photo of East Temple.
Glad this got bumped. One of my favorite areas!

goatboy smellz

Gulf Breeze
  Jan 15, 2014 - 06:29pm PT

Boulder climber
Almost solving the metaphysical mystery
  Jan 15, 2014 - 07:54pm PT
Great trip, great report.
I recognized a couple of the boulders, too. :) They have not changed much in 30 years.

Thank you for all the super photos!

Tell everyone: the Winds have no good climbing, the bugs are bad, the views are lousy, and the terrain is worse. ;)

I love that there are so people up in the high country. I have played my flute way back below and once atop Fremont, and then we met a geologist coming out several days later when out trails merged. He was totally charmed that the winds had brought him Rimsky-Korsakov while stars danced and meteors flew across the sky. The nights up there are spectacular. One of my favorite places in the world.

I enjoyed your narrative, and the photos were delightful. So glad you came to play in my home playground. I truly appreciate the great photos. Thank you.

Where are your going on your next foray into the Winds?



El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  Jan 15, 2014 - 08:18pm PT
Thanks for sharing.
Evident in your photos was that the stoke level was {{{HIGH}}}.
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