American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Wyoming, Winter Ascent of Gannett Peak, Wind River Range

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Winter Ascent of Gannett Peak, Wind River Range. What appears to be the first winter ascent of Gannett Peak (13,785 feet) was made last winter. Late on December 20, Patrick Caywood, Eliot Goss, Walter Gove, Albert Nickerson and Leif-Norman Patterson left Burris to cross Horse Ridge and to ascend to the Dinwoodie Glacier in hopes of making winter ascents. From their second camp at the Ink Wells, Caywood and Patterson climbed rapidly on December 22 to the Dinwoodie Glacier to receive an airdrop, while the others relayed loads. Patterson (Harvard Mountaineering Club) describes it as follows: “At 10 A.M. Pat and I arrived at the upper end of this valley and placed ourselves in different strategic positions. The weather was cold (10°F.), clear and without wind—seemingly perfect for airdrops. When the plane arrived around noon, we were disappointed to see it pass too far north and too high. It made three or four passes, dropping boxes, flew right over me in the return and dropped a last box from perhaps 1500 feet up, which hit the opposite mountainside like a bomb. Thus only one of our seven boxes was recovered.” They camped near timber line at the junction of the Dinwoodie and Gannett Glacier Canyons. On December 23 by 10 a.m. “we had passed over the moraines and crossed the lower part of the Dinwoodie Glacier. The snowshoes were handy since deep snow had accumulated between the boulders of the moraines. The glacier was also snow covered, although plenty of rock debris was visible. The few crevasses one observes on its lower part during the summer were all snow covered. The conditions on the mountain were very favorable—hardly any more snow than in summer. Only the wind, which became more chilly as we moved upward, reminded us of the season. The weather improved. Retreating clouds let the sun warm us as we quickly worked our way up the lower part of the southeast ridge.” The big gendarme, the Gooseneck, was the only real obstacle. This they bypassed on the left. They reached the summit at 3 p.m. but did not return to camp until well after dark. Christmas Eve was spent searching in vain for the unskillful airdrop. Dwindling food supplies obviously counselled a return to civilization, much to their disgust because they are enthusiastic about the region for winter climbing. They retreated to the Inkwells on Christmas in a snowstorm that piled up one to three feet of snow. They reached their car the next day to find that groundless fears had arisen for their safety.

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