The Wind River Range

“Remote” backcountry place popular with climbers, backpackers, and fisherfolk.

I write “remote” in quotes because there were easily over 100 cars in the Big Sandy Trailhead parking lot when I arrived. A bit shocking after an hour spent driving in on “Am I in the right place?” kind of dirt roads.

The Trip: Drive (8 Hrs) > hike (5 Hrs) >camp (4 days) > climb 1,000+’ faces (x2) > hike out (4 hrs) > Drive home

On Distances

My climbing partner is a sponsored athlete for a smartwatch company. Her watch measured all kinds of cool metrics, from atmospheric pressure to total fitness recovery level. But she didn’t even turn it on to measure the GPS track in or out.

So I can’t offer you much except to say, both in & out, it felt pretty far.

Final pass.

In Quick

The purpose of our visit was to climb some peaks, so we packed in two ropes, a load of protection, shoes & harnesses in addition to all of our camping gear and food for five days. Water, luckily, is abundant in the range, so we filled up and used filtration at natural streams. Still, as you can see from the photo above, the packs were heavy and the trail was long.

We arrived right at sunset, just as the winds shifted and decided to bring us a thick blanket of wildfire smoke. Sadly, it seems this will be the new normal for the American West in summer. We dealt with it last year. We deal with it today. Our children, I fear, will know nothing else.

But in the near past

We camped, we climbed (perfect weather), we rested, and we climbed again. Under mutual agreement, tired & satisfied with our winnings, we left a day early.

Be Mindful Of The Story You Are Telling Yourself

I sit here now, trying to find the story of this trip. A thru-line; a gimmick. An angle to take. I could describe the climbs, certainly — but trip reports in the purest sense bore me to death. We rocked up; we climbed. At times it was scary. We wandered left-to-right across massive rock faces, almost totally lost. At times silly. I carried a loose rock from belay to belay. Often frustrating. We drank strong whisky to animate us for the last pitch. On the summit, a dram more.

Scenes my partner and I have both lived plenty of times.

But the truth may be there is no lesson in this trip. No epic story. No lightning-bright moment of profundity. Just some climbs, a beautiful place, and a good friend. Some golden moments spent in the present, without worry.

This makes for bad content, of course.

But perhaps a good life.

The dirt and plants growing out of the crack is a sure sign this isn’t often climbed. “I think we’re lost!”

Pingora Peak in the background (right)
Cowboy & horse at Big Sandy Lake

In Closing

When your biggest concern for the day is “which meal am I gonna eat?” life is pretty good.

Be well,

Dan

Nepal 98: Sunrise at Annapurna Base Camp

Nepal Prayer Flags at Annapurna Base Camp

(almost landed this chapter on 100… so close…)

I awoke shivering in my thin sleeping bag at Annapurna Base Camp. My sleep had been shaky, at best. This was probably the twelfth time I had awoken in the middle of the night, but this time, the room was ever-so-slightly lighter. I looked at my phone. 5:30 a.m. Good enough.

I clearly wasn’t going to be getting any more sleep.

Sunrise over Annapurna. This was what we’d come for.

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Nepal 80: Magic Morning Light

The morning after I saw the rainbow, I awoke before sunrise.

I had gone to bed early—around eight— so this wasn’t much of a surprise.

I was still shaken from my experience the day before; filled with a sense of satisfaction. I rose quietly, doing my best to let Saffron sleep. I ventured outside to relieve myself. The only toilet was occupied, so I walked a little ways off the property, and peed on the trail. It felt good; felt refreshing in the chill morning air.

I walked back to the lodge as the morning sky was beginning to fill with light. It was a clear, brisk morning. The valley was beautiful, quiet and peaceful. You could see for miles. Far off, in the distance, the distinctive silhouette of of the Fishtail poked out of the horizon. Although the real name is Machupuchre, the mountain has acquired the English nickname “Fishtail” because of its obvious resemblance, from certain angles, to a fish’s tail.

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Nepal 67: The Morning After

Annapurna South

I awoke late. My restless night hadn’t afforded me much chance for good sleep, so when I’d finally drifted off to sleep, mortified, I hadn’t wanted to wake up.

A perfect sunbeam from the bedside window hit me square in the face, and my memory of last night came rushing back to me. It was far too vivid to have been a dream. I opened my eyes and glanced out the window.

It was an amazing bluebird morning, only small wisps of clouds to be seen. The sky was an almost ethereal blue color: so perfect it almost didn’t seem real. Behind the nearby mountains, a huge snow-capped peak showed its face. I sat up and stared in wonder. Although only a tiny portion was visible, the mountain looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.

That’s what I came here for, I thought.

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