Greg Reynolds, Gannet Peak, January 2016
A few months ago I was feeling the need to do something stupid. In my 29 years of existence I have done many stupid things, but it had been a while since I’d done something really stupid.
When I say stupid, I’m not talking about saying something to my wife that lands me on the couch for the night or locking my keys in the car. I’ve done plenty of those things recently. Doing something really stupid for me is like that time when my friend and I decided to climb a mountain in the middle of a nasty winter storm and got stranded, turning a half-day trip into a two day ordeal that had search and rescue involved and had my friend and I shoving our feet in each others’ armpits to try to stave off frostbite. Or the other time when myself and some friends decided to climb another peak in the middle of a winter storm. One friend got separated in the storm, was caught in an avalanche (but luckily not fully buried), and ended up flying off the mountain dangling from a lifeflight helicopter.
I told my pregnant wife that I felt like I needed to do something stupid. She knew what that meant and simply said, “Just don’t kill yourself. Our children need a father.” “Deal,” I said, and started making preparations.
I called my friend Phil and proposed that we head into the Wind Rivers for a week of climbing and skiing. Phil is the friend who, without fail, is always game to do something stupid with me. In fact, his are the armpits that have warmed my toes and he was the one that spotted three moose while dangling from a lifeflight helicopter as he was flown off the mountain.
After some deliberation, Phil and I decided to try to climb and ski Gannett Peak in the Wind Rivers. Gannett Peak is the highest peak in Wyoming, 33 feet higher than the Grand Teton. And though there are more extreme peaks to climb, it is very remote and gets pummeled with nasty weather all winter long. The climbing is a mixture of glacier ice, steep snow slopes, and 50-degree rock. It is a climb, not a hike, but it’s not so steep and crazy that we won’t be able to ski off the top.
Based on the weather over the last three weeks, we are planning our gear lists based on the following conditions:
Daytime temperatures: 0-15 degrees Fahrenheit
Nighttime temperatures: -10-10 degrees Fahrenheit
Windy and snowy.
- Bottom Layers
- 200g Merino Wool Baselayer (Icebreaker)
- Arc’teryx Psiphon AR Softshell Pant
- Arc’teryx Kappa Pant
- Top Layers
- La Sportiva Troposphere Long Sleeve Baselayer
- Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip T
- Arc’teryx Cerium SL Vest
- CAMP Flash Anorak (windshirt for quick on/off in windy weather)
- Berghaus Vapourlight Hyper Jacket (Ultralight waterproof jacket, mostly to block wind up high)
- Rab Neutrino Endurance Down Jacket or Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
- Hands and Feet
- 2x Thick Merino Wool Ski Socks (Darn Tough and Icebreaker)
- Dynafit TLT5 Performance Ski Boot
- Western Mountaineering Flash Down Booties (Frostbite Insurance)
- Lightweight Merino Wool liner Glove (Rab)
- Mountain Equipment Super Alpine Glove
- Arc’teryx Beta Shell Glove and Atom Glove Liner
- Black Diamond Superlight Mitt (Frostbite Insurance up high)
- Head and Face
- Merino Wool Buff (Icebreaker)
- Thick Merino Wool Beanie (Icebreaker)
- Dynafit Headband (Lightweight for skinning when not too cold)
- Hardgoods and Equipment
- Cilogear 60L Worksac Backpack (No top lid)
- Osprey Kode Race 18 skimo pack (for summit day)
- Dynafit Cho Oyu 183 Skis w/ Dynafit Radical Speed Binding
- Dynafit (Pomoca skins) speedskins for Cho Oyu ski
- CAMP Race Skins for flat skinning (skinny, short, lightweight, glides well)
- Black Diamond Quickdraw Tour 320 Probe
- Black Diamond Deploy 3 Shovel
- BCA Tracker 2 Beacon
- MSR Reactor Stove and Pot and 2x 8oz bottles of fuel
- Black Diamond Highlite Tent or dig snow cave, haven’t decided yet
- Western Mountaineering Alpinlite Sleeping Bag
- Thermarest Neoair X-Therm Sleeping Pad
- SOL Escape Emergency reflective bivy
- Tech and Accessories
- Delorme inReach Explorer Emergency Transponder
- iPhone w/maps and Delorme GPS app (Camera, navigation, communication in conjunction with the Delorme inReach Explorer
- GoPro Hero 4
- Morakniv Companion knife
- Firestarter and First Aid Kit
- Smith Goggles and Julbo Sunglasses
- LED Lenser Headlamp and Batteries
- Power Monkey and Goal Zero Dump Chargers for all electronics
- Mostly Mountain House, Oatmeal, Hot Chocolate, and GU energy products
The total weight for the stuff I’m taking is about 35lbs without water. I’m sure there are a few items that I have forgotten, but it’s getting late and I still have a lot to do tonight to get ready for the trip tomorrow.
Tomorrow night we should arrive at the end of the plowed road a few miles (5-6) away from Elkhart Park. The plan is to grab our gear and start hiking through the night, hopefully arriving in the Titcomb Basin around noon the following day. That would be about a 20-22 mile day. I hope we have the legs for it. It may take us more than one day to get that far.
The forecast is looking clear but windy for the first half of the week so we are hoping to get up Gannett by Wednesday at the latest.
Phil and I will be communicating via the Delorme inReach Explorer starting from the trailhead on Sunday night (January 10, 2016) and we will try to send an update text about 3-4 times per day as long as there is something worthwhile to update about.
You can follow the progress (or lack thereof) at the following link:
We will follow this trip up with photos and a trip report as well as a discussion of our gear choices and how well the gear did or didn’t work so if that interests you, stay tuned.