A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America
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Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America on 11/21/2013 15:06:22 MST Print View

A Link: Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route
http://www.adventurealan.com/WRHR/index.htm

Wind River High Route - A Guide
by Alan Dixon and Don Wilson

The Wind River High Route is in our opinion, mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America. It stays close to the crest of the Continental Divide in one of the most rugged and glaciated mountain ranges in the lower 48. The route is thrilling and the scenery spectacular.

Knifepoint.jpg

Overview of the Wind River High Route

The Wind River High Route (WRHR) is similar in concept to the Sierra High Route (SHR) but Don and I feel that the WRHR is more spectacular and thrilling. Just as the SHR loosely follows the famous John Muir Trail (JMT) but spends much of its time off-trail, more closely following the Sierra crest, the WRHR in a comparable manner loosely follows the Highline Trail, many times going off-trail to stay higher and closer to the Continental Divide—a more elegant line in high glaciated terrain. When the WRHR uses trails they are higher trails, closer to the crest. It is a more challenging and more rewarding route than the Highline Trail.

The WRHR starts in the north at the Green River Lakes Trailhead and the headwaters of the Green River. It heads generally southeast to follow the Continental Divide, crossing it four times. After passing through the legendary Cirque of the Towers, it ends at the Big Sandy Trailhead. The WRHR is approximately 80 miles of off-trail and on-trail travel with about 20,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. There are nine passes between 12,200 ft and 11,500 ft—six off-trail and three on-trail. Some of the off-trail passes have a fair amount of talus. There are few short sections of Class 3/4 travel and one glacier crossing. The recomended hiking season is late summer. This gives time for the high snowfields to melt out and reduces mosquito pressure. By mid September their is a decent chance of snow.

Our Criteria for Planning the Wind River High Route


  • An elegant line closely following the crest of the Continental Divide along the finest section of the Wind River Range.

  • A fit hiker should be able to do the route in seven hiking
    days (we did it in 5½ days). This allows busy people to fit it into
    a standard “one-week” vacation including travel days (two weekends
    and the five weekdays in between = 9 days total).

  • A non-technical hiking route. No class 5 terrain. Short sections of class 3/4 terrain ok. Don and Alan did the trip in trail running shoes and trekking poles. [Late season only. Early season snow would significantly change the technical nature of the trip.]

  • Route stays high but without being inefficient, or taking unnecessary risks to force a higher line.

  • Uses convenient trail heads with an easy shuttle.



Resources for the Wind River High Route


  • Text Only Version of Route Description (6) 8.5x11 pages [PDF]

  • Full Mapset - (9) 11x17 pages [PDF

  • Waypoints and Hiking Timetable [PDF]

  • Shuttle Info

  • Gear Lists [PDF]

  • Other Published References (books, maps, etc.

  • Potential Additions to the Route

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 11/21/2013 18:45:05 MST Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 01/16/2014 21:35:18 MST.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/21/2013 21:01:08 MST Print View

Nice write up and guide now please delete all of this.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/21/2013 21:28:32 MST Print View

Indeed. I cringe when I see reports replete with maps and waypoints. Great way to ruin a place.

Bill

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Route Finding on 11/21/2013 22:11:10 MST Print View

I tend to agree. The high places should be reserved for those that have honed their skills and can find their own way. Part of the draw is the adventure and this often lures less prepared hikers into a false sense of security.

I don't fault the authors for wanting to share a truly spectacular range and Pinedale would certainly like to increase tourism. I am very conflicted about promoting wild places. I left Cali because it was being loved to death and the inevitable regulation ruined it for me. We need more awareness and supporters but at what cost? The unintended consequences scare me the most.

At any rate the Winds are spectacular, remote (for the lower 48), unforgiving, and one of the few places you can go for days without seeing anyone else.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/21/2013 22:22:44 MST Print View

Quick, everyone go harass anyone who's ever published any information on the SHR.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America on 11/21/2013 22:27:34 MST Print View

Thanks Alan for sharing this. It looks like a great trip, maybe I can convince my wife to do it with me this summer. I have to admit I am a bit skeptical about your claim that it is better than the SHR :)

I disagree completely with the requests wanting this removed. We have all learned about cool places from others and none of us are more deserving than anyone else. Besides, an off-trail route with class 3/4 terrain is never going to be overrun with the great unwashed masses.

Edited by andrew.f on 11/21/2013 22:41:20 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/22/2013 08:04:46 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing Alan. I support posting routes for an awesome trip.

Edited by jshann on 11/22/2013 08:22:05 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/22/2013 08:15:57 MST Print View

Thank you Alan. A very well done report of a wonderful area.

I have hiked much of this route (more than once) and it is spectacular. The variety of terrain over such a short distance is stunning. And I'll be going back. Thanks for the reminder.

Edited by greg23 on 11/22/2013 08:16:35 MST.

KEN LARSON
(KENLARSON) - MLife

Locale: Western Michigan
****PURE ADVENTURE**** on 11/22/2013 08:51:31 MST Print View

Alan thanks for the EXCELLENT write up with documentation! Your trip report brings back many awesome memories of the family "winds" adventure in the early 80's that touch in the eleven days we were there many areas you covered and the trip we have place on the families top three adventure.......

"Life is known only by those who have found a way to be comfortable with change and the unknown. Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure."

Andy Duncan
(bluewater) - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: The WInd River High Route on 11/22/2013 09:42:37 MST Print View

Thanks for your detailed trip report, maps and photos. There is some great footage of the route and even the impressive storm-worthiness of your tarp on the video.

Your guide to the cross country route through the area is great, which I think is fine because 99% of hikers (who mainly stay on trail) will never bother to read this. If they do the words 'Class 3/4' will surely keep most away. The people I have come across in the backcountry who enjoy this kind of trip seem well versed in LNT and backpacking etiquette.

That being said I respect the desire to keep the wilderness wild. Over the years my brother has taken a few of us to one of the 'secret spots' he has discovered in the Sierras. We have all agreed not to tell anyone about the locations. After over 20 years and even on busy summer holiday weekends these places are still usually vacant.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America on 11/22/2013 10:37:26 MST Print View

Yeah, because the WRHR is some sort of secret that no information or maps exist for. Ha! Thanks for sharing, Alan and Don. Just be sure to stay away from my favorite powder stash ; )

* edited abbreviation

Edited by sharalds on 11/22/2013 12:39:13 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Wind River high route on 11/22/2013 11:14:29 MST Print View

A bold claim. The modest vert to mileage ratio has me skeptical, but we'll let it ride.

While I doubt this route will ever get crowded, guides with this level of specificity and luxuriant detail are exactly the sort which significantly increase traffic. I prefer more vague beta which leaves more space for ambiguity and adventure. But you can always just print the overview maps and refuse to read guidebooks.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America on 11/22/2013 16:08:55 MST Print View

"I disagree completely with the requests wanting this removed. We have all learned about cool places from others and none of us are more deserving than anyone else. Besides, an off-trail route with class 3/4 terrain is never going to be overrun with the great unwashed masses."

+1

If you who criticize really want solitude, get creative and design your very own secret route. There are dozens out there waiting to test your creativity, both in the Sierra and The Winds.

Will Govus
(willgovus) - F
re on 11/23/2013 09:35:30 MST Print View

Traversing the northern end of the high country via shale mountain/the continental glacier/dinwoody glacier then throwing in a climb up gannett then down into titcomb basin would only make this route better it seems. Several CDT hikers did it this year without any technical equipment and said it was great. Not sure where the best start would be for that though.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: A Complete Guide to the Wind River High Route - mile for mile, the finest non-technical Alpine route in North America on 11/23/2013 11:27:58 MST Print View

Your photos really did capture the expansive views nicely, I gotta figure out how to do that.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Delete this thread on 11/25/2013 18:49:49 MST Print View

Wow. Take this down, immediately...

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Get away in the Sierra too! on 11/25/2013 19:47:08 MST Print View

I've been in the middle of a very popular area in the Sierra and not seen a sole for four days.
Another source for off route in the Winds is a book by Nancy Pallister (sp). She's an old hand at the Winds, even spent weeks up there in the winter.
Duane

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Delete this thread ??? on 11/25/2013 19:47:27 MST Print View

uuuuhhh Dean....

Seriously?

Sarcastically?

Humorously?

Edited by greg23 on 11/25/2013 19:48:36 MST.

Ed Biermann
(longstride) - F
Delete this thread on 11/25/2013 19:48:21 MST Print View

Too late. It's on Facebook.