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#199454 - 11/09/17 02:17 PM Packing for Mountain Travel
berickson64 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/09/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Disclaimer: I am a super newb here.

I and two of my daughters are planning some hiking around Wyoming next Summer. I would like to include some back country backpacking into the route. Some of this terrain will include crossing mountain passes above 10,000 feet, specifically Antoinette Peak and Cache Peak in the Gros Ventre range in late June . I would like to also consider Sugarloaf and Elk Mountain in Medicine Bow Forest in Early June. I have looked at the historical snow depth for these mountains and others that we may cross and there is a good chance of there being snow still at the peaks.

Most of the time, we will be hiking along at about 6,000 feet in warmer weather. How would you recommend packing for this variation? I am trying to pack as light as possible. But I don't want to get into a situation where we are in a pickle because we didn't bring the right gear. I was thinking ice axe, one 90M rope and carabiners and switching from trailrunning shoes to hardier boots. Your thoughts please?

Have any of you summitted any of these peaks in June? What gear did you use?

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#199455 - 11/09/17 07:08 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1724
Loc: Napa, CA
Do you have experience with ice axes and snow climbing? If not, this would not be the place to learn. The fact that you are asking the question makes me think you might not have that kind of experience, and the only reason to take an ice axe is to self-arrest in case of a fall. And if you haven't trained and practiced that technique, don't take any trails where you will need it. It is not something that comes naturally, and failure means severe injury or death. Ropes, unless you are trained and experienced, only make it more dangerous, not less.

June is still pretty early in the mountains, and there will certainly be snow, maybe lots of it, at 10,000 feet. How much? we won't know until May, when the weather is finally wrapping up.

I'm not sure that is the advice you wanted...but it's the best that I can give!
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#199456 - 11/09/17 08:41 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
As pointed out, you've posted this in Backcountry Beginners forum and you neglected to give us any other clues about your experience level in mountaineering. I say mountaineering, not backpacking, because of you mention bringing ice axes, a rope, carabineers, and then speak of summiting peaks. Mountaineering requires very specific skills and often carries very high risks.

In the absence of any clear sense of your ability to safely carry out your plans, it's hard to do anything else but question how appropriate your plans are, rather than encourage you to undertake something well past your skill level.

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#199457 - 11/09/17 09:28 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
As pointed out above, the seasons in Wyoming are a bit different than in North Carolina. I grew up in Wyoming and have been back for visits since. The standard Wyoming joke (but there's a lot of truth in it!) is that there are three seasons in Wyoming: July, August, and Winter. I've seen up to a foot of snow fall (although it soon melts) in July and August, too, at altitudes of 9,500 to 10,000 feet and higher.

Unless it's a very unusual year, there will be considerable winter snowpack still remaining during June. Streams will also be very high from the snow melt, making fording difficult and often dangerous. Some years, those conditions last until late July. I understand that was true last summer (as it was in the Cascades and Sierra).

Navigation is also an issue where the trails are still covered with 3-6 feet of snow. There is also the postholing issue where the snow has become soft, and you break through sinking to your crotch at every step..

Interestingly, in most Wyoming locations, 6,000 feet elevation is out in the desert or out on the plains, depending on your location. There is a low "timberline" below which trees won't grow, in most places 7500-8500 feet. Those areas will be fine in June, but I'm not sure what you're planning to hike there. If your Elk Mountain (there are a lot of them--every range has one or more!) is the one northwest of Laramie, visible just south of I-80, I wouldn't anticipate serious problems in June, although you'll still find plenty of snow in the thicker timber.

As with the others here, I have to ask how much experience you've had with the serious snow and ice conditions and the high-water stream crossings that you are apt to find at higher altitudes in June.

If you can postpone your trip for a month, by all means do so! Even early July will be difficult most years. If not, I would recommend the southwest.





Edited by OregonMouse (11/09/17 09:39 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#199465 - 11/11/17 06:52 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
HPD Offline
member

Registered: 12/22/16
Posts: 34
Loc: Colorado High Plains
Just a few basic thoughts.
As others mentioned, it's too early in the season to know what the snow pack will look like in June but I would say that there's usually a lot of snow in the areas you mentioned. Early June in the Snowy Range will most definitely be a snowy proposition. Hwy 130 which crosses the Snowies is usually opened by Memorial Day weekend. If the road to the TH near Sugarloaf is still snowed in, which is not unheard of, you'll need to park along Hwy 130 and walk in. As far as I know, Elk Mountain is entirely on private property.

There's a high probability that you'll need snowshoes in the Snowies and the Gros Ventres to reach your peaks.

As far as trail runners, I seriously doubt that they'll be of any use except for your 6,000 foot hiking, at least in June, in Wyoming. Are you talking about Wyoming when you say Most of the time, we will be hiking along at about 6,000 feet in warmer weather.??


Edited by HPD (11/11/17 06:53 PM)

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#199467 - 11/11/17 09:00 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
So far it is looking like a higher snowpack year. For what it is worth, NWS long term predictions is for more than usual snow. Western Wyoming is already getting quite a bit of snow in the mountains.

I lived in Wyoming many years. Wyoming is very windy; actually, most of Wyoming is always windy! Laramie area is particularly windy. Be sure your tent is wind-worthy up to 50-60 mph winds. Wind-proof layers are handy. Be sure you stove has a wind screen.

June snow tends to have a crust that you can hike on top of in the morning, but it collapses by noon. Plan most of your travel for the morning. After about 2PM you will likely be post-holing. Light hikers or boots will keep feet warmer than trail runners. Knee high gaiters are essential.

Gros Ventre in late June will still likely have snow. Good thing is that even if you have to walk on snow, you can usually find a dry spot to camp. Nevertheless, a sleeping pad with an R-4 or more rating is good, in case you do have to camp on snow.

For river crossings, be sure you have trekking poles and sturdy wading shoes. You can just wade in your hiking shoes. I find that taking an extra pair of insoles helpful in this case, as well as a minimum of 3 pair of socks. Wade in shoes without insoles and socks. Dry one pair of insoles while you wear the other. Shoes will get soaked if walking much in snow, so you simply have to deal with wet shoes. Be sure to have one pair of wool socks dedicated for sleeping.

June weather can be quite rainy; or wonderful. Good news is that mosquitoes usually do not show up above 8000 feet until July. You can also have daily snow squalls in June at 8000 feet or above.

I would skip the rope and heavy climbing gear and instead be sure to take sufficient clothing. You will get wet and may not be able to dry out clothing for days. Take sufficient fuel so that you can always have hot drinks. Waterproof matches also good. Skills such as knowing how to build a fire with wet wood is also useful.

Trails will likely be covered with snow sometimes. If not an expert navigator, be sure to carry a GPS.

You will pack differently for the lower elevation trips and the higher elevation trips. Do not try to have a one-size-fits-all set of gear.

If you are truly a beginner, skip any thought of "climbing". If conditions become such, simply turn around and go back.

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#199470 - 11/12/17 09:41 AM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
How could I forget the wind? I've been away from the Laramie area too long! It used to be that the local paper put in its weather forecast: "The day ends at xxx p.m., except the wind, which ends at midnight."
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#199476 - 11/12/17 02:13 PM Re: Packing for Mountain Travel [Re: berickson64]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1732
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I lived in Fort Collins for 5-years. When we would hear about the Laramie weather just north of us the only comments on the wind were on it's direction, not whether it was blowing.😀
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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