Gannett Peak 2021

Pat Dayton
8 min readApr 19


Gannett Peak from Bonney Pass ~12,900 ft

Wyoming has a beefy highpoint. Only ~30 feet taller than the more well known Grand Teton a few miles away, Gannett Peak stands 13,804' above the Wind River range. Most routes require a long heavy hike in.

Excuse all the favs

I’m writing this post in April of 2023 and the climb was in August of 2021, so some of the details might be fuzzy compared to my Denali or Annapurna posts. I’ll do my best.

Nat and Pat Moving Across the Country

This climb was a highlight of Natasha and my move from Dallas to Seattle. As we are both pursuing state high points, it made sense to attempt Gannett on the way. On the trip we …

  • Hung out with my family in Archer City
  • Visited the tri-state point (TX, NM, KS)….wooo
  • Saw Joe, Jon and Rachel, Suchi and Josh in Denver
  • Visited Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Visited Grand Teton National Park
  • Climbed Gannett
  • Visited Yellowstone National Park
  • Saw the Barkley Pit in Butte, MT
  • Got Engaged in Boring, OR
Yellowstone, zoomed in elk picture. The more representative picture is not zoomed in and shows the six miles of cars we queued behind to see the damn elk.
The Civic was ridin’ lowwwww
Almost as cool as the Barkley Pit…

I should probably write an article about this trip at some point.

Getting to the Climb

We spent a couple days around Grand Teton/Jackson Hole prior to the climb so we had some driving to do to get to the Wind River Range. To be more honest, we were being cheap and staying across the pass in Idaho because Jackson Hole is obscenely expensive. So our drive to Jackson and then to the trailhead was a bit….tight.

Loading went like this: Everyone but me got in the car. I shoved stuff on top of them until they couldn’t breath. Then I removed one thing from each so they could barely breathe. That’s Natasha’s hand in the back left. She’s under there somewhere.

Speaking of “everyone,” this was a well attended trip with our usual retinue of Natasha, Brandon, Doug, and me being joined by mountain newie Matthew J Connelly. I think we got him hooked since he’s now going back to Wyoming with us to climb Grand Teton in 2023.

The night before the climb we stayed in the ghost of Teddy Roosevelt’s AirBnB. We spent the evening packing our food for the next 5 days.

Smithsonian Wyoming Annex 1

The Climb Begins

Day 1 — Elkhart Trailhead to Island Lake

We woke up early to head to the trailhead. It’s semi-mandatory to use pack horses on this trip, so we loaded most of our gear into saddle bags and sent it on its way. We would reunite with it ~12 miles later.

Day 1 Stats
Day 1 in Blue from Bottom left

The beginning of the trip was a slog through the pine trees, but at the top of Photographer’s Point we got our first views of the Wind River Range. What a pretty area! The pine trees seem to grow directly out of the granite. Wild.

It’s kind of behind that pointy one in the back left. We walked a long way.
They’ve taken the hobbits to Isengard.
Island Lake.

At around mile 12 we picked up our gear where the horses dropped it and got packed up. The ~45 lb packs felt big after our light daypacks.

The horses left our bags near this dead body on the trail (blue with yellow rain fly). We packed up to move on to camp.

We made our first camp at Island Lake where we enjoyed a bangers and mash dinner prepared by our fearless guides Chris Brown and Matthew Koenig.

Matthew (left), Chris (right)
View from Camp

Day 2 — Island Lake to Bonney Pass

With the big packs, Day 2 was significantly harder. Especially with the climb to Bonney Pass to end it.

Day two got steep
Day 2 in Red
Leaving camp with the big bags. My hip straps match my shirt making me look extra chonky.

On this day we were able to hike by the lower Titcomb Lakes which are beautiful glassy lakes surrounded by jagged peaks.

Lower Titcomb Lakes

After taking a lunch break at the bottom of the climb to Bonney Pass, we started the steep ascent. It sucked. It was 100% scree and we had heavy bags. It was a nearly 2,000 ft climb at altitude.

Up the scree we went. Looking back at the lower Titcomb lakes.
Natasha and our guide, Matthew. You can see how steep and rocky this section was. Plus all of the rocks were wiggly.

Upon reaching the top [finally] I felt like I was going to puke. I think the rest of the crew was pretty worn too. There were nice views of Gannett at the top at least. This was definitely one of the most difficult pushes I’ve had in the mountains. Steep, heavy bag, high altitude.

Bonney Pass Camp. Gannet is the round one with the skinny Gooseneck Glacier (our route) running up and to the left.

We had a nice meal of mac & cheese with tuna while fending off the picas. One took a bite out of Natasha’s new hiking poles. Little monsters.


Day 3 — Summit Day

Back to the light packs! Huzzah!

Out and back summit day across the Dinwoody and up the Gooseneck.

Most of the group was feeling bad after the strenuous day before and the night at almost 13,000 ft so it was just Brandon and me attempting the summit. I gobbled my instant oatmeal and we started…down. Yeah check out the elevation map, you start with a nice 1,500 foot descent that you just know is going to SUCK on the way back up.

“Wish there had been a bridge from Bonney Pass” — me | Picture: Matthew Koenig

With the Alpine start, we crossed the Dinwoody at night. Glacier crossing at night is such a surreal, semi-scary, beautiful, adjectful experience. You hear the glacier cracking below you. You can kinda see, and know that these giant peaks are looming all around you. It’s magical. I wish I could capture it on video/photo effectively.

The sun rose once we had crossed the Dinwoody. It was a beautiful day. And our guide Matthew was on point with his fancy cam.

Climbing the Gooseneck Glacier | Picture: Matthew Koenig

From the Gooseneck and afterward we could look back and see Bonney Pass where the rest of our party was hanging out. It looked so small compared to the “up” en route to the summit.

Looking back at Bonney Pass from the summit route.
Cool glacial fracturing on the upper Dinwoody.
Brandon auditioning for something | Picture: Matthew Koenig
Approaching the summit

The summit ridge was a lot of crampon on rock with interstitial post-holing in thigh-deep snow. It seemed to impact me (the chonky boy) compared to Brandon. During the final stretch we walked near the steep cliff faces to the north and could see far into northern Wyoming. A few minutes later we were on the summit.

Summit Pano. Bonney Pass in the center.

Leaving the summit, it was a nice climb down the Gooseneck, a boring walk across the Dinwoody, and a terrible climb back up to Bonney Pass where we found the rest of our group luxuriating in their tents. We joined them, resting a bit before dinner. That was a long summit day.

Our walk back up the Dinwoody with the climb to Bonney Pass in the back.

Day 4 — Bonney Pass to Seneca Lake

Since we topped out on the first of our two possible summit days, we decided we were ready to get back to town for a hamburger/beer. We bypassed our Island Lake camp and put in a few more miles to get to Seneca Lake. This set us up to end the expedition in five days rather than six.

Day 4 in Red

After a slippery slidery climb down from Bonney Pass we were out of the alpine and back amongst the glacial lakes. The remainder of the day was just a beautiful hike through the pines without the mental weight of an upcoming summit attempt on us anymore. We spent the day chatting with the guides and each other as we made our way to Seneca Lake.

Another dead body along the path.
Back amongst the glacial lakes.
Seneca Lake Camp, can’t remember what Matt was reading.

Day 5— Seneca Lake to Elkhart Trailhead

Shower day! We woke and had a leisurely breakfast before packing up camp starting our day. It was a leisurely walk out of the Wind River range.

Morning at Seneca Lake

…although the pace picked up in the last mile as the parking lot (and toilet therein) became proximal.

We drank a beer from the car cooler while we organized and changed clothes. It’s amazing how good fresh clothes feel after a few days in a tent.

That evening we grabbed dinner with our guides in Pinedale before parting ways.

What a great climb to add some extra adventure to an already eventful drive across the country. I think there’s a decent chance we will go back to Gannett to try the other route. I never want to do Bonney Pass again though 😝.

bye bye mountains

Final Stats