Hiking and Backpacking the Yellowstone Region The Grand Tetons • Gallatin Range • Beartooth Range • Wyoming Range • Gros Ventre Range • Absoraka Mountains
Hiker Joe Lee on the Highline Trail and Green River Lakes in the Wind River Mountains.
A few of our hiking and riding trails
is nestled in the north end of Alaska Basin on the Teton
Crest Trail, the tip of the Grand Teton can be seen just
over the ridge.
horseback riding and hiking in our very special neck of the woods here in the
Yellowstone Grand Teton region is a very special experience. Few places
have our diversity of trail choices. Yellowstone provides many otherworld
hiking and riding opportunities, the Grand Teton’s canyon trails beneath its towering granite monoliths provide scenery you can read about but can’t
believe until you experience it. The remoteness of the Gros Ventre, Wind,
Big Hole, Wyoming, Centennial, and Snake River mountain Ranges are treasures
in their own right. If you horseback ride or hike to get to where the remote
fishing is good, you have chosen the perfect destination.
In the Greater Yellowstone Region, anything can happen horseback riding or hiking. Wildlife sightings are the norm, moose, elk, deer, and bison are a daily occurrence if you are lucky you might see a wolf, mountain sheep, or bear. Extreme weather can be expected any time. A clear sunny day can quickly become stormy, bringing lightning, hail and sometimes snow. Hypothermia can befall you any time of the year if your are unprepared. Daytime summer temperatures range between 70 to 90 degrees. June can be cool and rainy, and high water during spring runoff can become hazards in stream crossings. The peak hiking and horseback riding summer months, July and August tend to be drier and better choices for the fair weather horseback rider or hiker.
and horseback riding in the Greater Yellowstone Region offers such a great
array of trails choices are difficult, but it’s tough to go wrong. Mountaineering
stores and saddle shops provide information, maps and books to help you stay
informed. Consult authorities for current conditions and wildlife sightings
before venturing into the backcountry. The more informed you are, the more
your trip into the mountains will be.
A pack string
heading out of Heart Lake Basin, you can see Heart Lake
and the Absoraka Mountains off in the distance
Goodwin Lake Trail • (Jackson
Hole) • The
Goodwin Lake Trail is one of those cheater hike/rides that
start by driving your car to about the 8,000-foot elevation
effortlessly expediting your buns to the high country (my favorite
kind). This trip is popular for its proximity to the town of
Jackson and Grand Teton National Park; it’s relatively short
ample sensory rewards.
Lake Trail • (Yellowstone
Park) •Tucked away on the east side
of Mount Sheridan in southern Yellowstone,
the continental divide from Yellowstone Lake is one of the
most pristine areas of Yellowstone National Park, the Heart
Lake drainage. In this region only a network of trails, primitive
campgrounds and a picturesque log cabin ranger station are
the only sign left by man, a remarkable fete in this day and
age when you consider that the Heart Lake is one of more popular
hikes for day hikers and backpackers; 40% of all of Yellowstone’s
backcountry overnight trips are to Heart Lake.
into Cascade Creek Drainage and Grand Teton National
Park from Hurricane Pass on the Teton Crest Trail
Teton Crest Trail • (Grand
Teton National Park) The Teton Crest Trail can be done
many different ways; the full
route is 39 miles, from Teton Pass
on Highway 22 to String Lake in Grand Teton National Park,
just north of Jenny Lake. Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail
takes about three days but this hike is no place to rush
if you can budget the time. Ambitious backpackers or horseback
riders can extend the trip to seventy-five mile trek along
the entire crest of the Teton Mountains with some creative
trail daisy chaining. Much of the Teton Crest Trail cuts
a serpentine path through Grand Teton National Park and
the adjacent Jedediah Smith Wilderness, rarely dipping
8,000 feet. This rugged mountain environment’s jagged spires,
alpine meadows, glaciers, lakes and vistas provide a challenging
trip with limitless and rewarding sections for off trail
and the Grand Teton from 10 miles up Cascade Creek Trail
in Grand Teton National Park.
Loop Trail • (Grand
Teton National Park) • The Paintbrush
Divide trail makes up the first part of a great loop
carries you across the Divide (10,720 feet), passing
Lake Solitude as it winds back down to the Cascade
Canyon. It's best to go up the Paintbrush Canyon
first because it allows for turning around quicker
if ice/snow at the divide is a problem. Also,
its steeper which is more pleasant to go up than down,
and gets the hard part over with while you are
fresh. A snowfield makes the trail a bit tricky
you cross the divide until early August. After
August is easily traversed without the need of an ice
trekking poles are always useful on extreme day
hikes and make the small snow excursions even easier.
Creek Canyon • (Swan
Valley Idaho) • Palisades Creek
Trail is located about 50 miles southeast
of Idaho Falls and about 60 miles west of Jackson Hole WY
in Swan Valley Idaho,
The four mile hike up to lower
Palisades Lake or the 6.2 mile hike to Upper Palisades Lake
provide some of the best mountain
views in the Swan Valley region. Palisades Creek Trail is
well maintained and can be used only by hikers, backpackers
or horses. If you choose to hike up to Upper Palisades Lake,
2 miles above Lower Palisades Lake you have to leave Palisades
Creek trail and turn up Waterfall Canyon and it is just a
short distance up Waterfall Canyon.
The Grand Teton
peaks of Table Mountain east of Driggs Idaho.
Mountain Trail • (Teton
Valley Idaho - Driggs) • Table Mountain
is a must do hike not to be missed in the Tetons. The
the best vantage
point in the Tetons for close-up views of the massive west
face of the Grand, upper reaches of Cascade Canyon,
and the U-shaped
glacial valleys and canyons on the west side of the Tetons.
This hike is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding
entire region and it bears the signature of the essence
of the Grand Tetons.
Elk Creek Trail •
Valley Idaho) • Big
Elk Creek is a
gorgeous stream that flows down a big pristine canyon that is
free of motor vehicles and
livestock grazing. The canyon includes many avalanche chutes
and rugged mountains. It has an easy trail leading up a broad,
open, and scenic canyon. The Trail from campground goes north along
Big Elk Creek, and heads for miles into the heart of the Snake
River mountain range. The high alpine meadows have exceptional
flower displays during the summer months. Excellent views are
everywhere you look throughout the Big Elk Creek backcountry.
Black bear are relatively common, elk and moose are abundant,
there is a population of mountain goats that cling to the many
cliffs of the Big Elk Creek drainage. The peregrine falcon has
been restored to the cliffs of the Snake River Range also.
Creek Trail (Jackson
Hole - Bonduraunt) • I found nothing swift about
Swift Creek trail Oh! except the creek, the trail starts out
in Granite Creek Valley beneath the grandeur of this special
mountain valley's towering sentinels. You climb imperceptibly
through sagebrush and wildflower meadows interspersed with groves
of conifers and aspen. When you draw up close to the creek you
start ascending through forest and small meadows and for a while
lose the views of the mountains. Here the terrain flattens out
for a bit and you cross the creek, the trail breaks north to
reveal the mountains once again, North Cliff Wall on the left
and Corner Peak to the right. A trail through the meadow to the
right provides trail access to MacLeod Lake high up on Corner
Peak. Then up a little farther you see it, God accidentally misplaced
one of Yosemite’s water falls halfway up this canyon. What
a pleasant surprise.
Little Greys River
Trail access Greyback Ridge, Pickle Pass, Roosevelt Meadows
Cliff Creek and the Upper Hoback River Drainage.
Greys River Trail • (Star
Valley Wyoming - Alpine) The trail begins near the end of
Little Greys River Road #10047. The trailhead’s beginning
elevation is 6,950 feet and is at the edge of a giant meadow
and the river has already radically changed character it
is now in a spring rush down a steep canyon. This trail accesses
the scenic Wyoming Range and it connects to the Wyoming Range
National Recreation Trail #048 and the Cliff Creek Trail
#137. It has an elevation gain of 2,310 feet. The trail climbs
steadily through forest interspersed with meadow with regular
jogs over to the mountain edge for views of the Little Greys
River hundreds of feet below.
Creek Trail •
Valley Idaho) • Bear Creek is an idyllic mountain stream
that meanders through an equally serene alpine valley on the
side of Palisades Reservoir in Swan Valley
Idaho. The trail is an easy one even for novice hikers and the danger spots
for horses are few. Unlike the creeks on the Snake
River Range side of Palisades Reservoir the creeks of the Caribou Range
seem more open not that they are but the southern slopes of the mountains
are largely open meadow and lends itself to a more open feeling.
Falls Trail• (Jackson
Hole) • The Shoal Falls trail begins
in the scenic alpine wonderland of Granite Creek a good
home base to explore this amazing area. From the Swift
Creek/Shoal Falls trailhead hike or ride up the sagebrush
and wildflower meadow until the trail splits, look for
a wooden sign that says "Shoal Falls". Follow
an old two–track road for the first 1⁄2 mile.
The trail then turns to the south and angles up a forested
hillside and you climb a series of switchbacks that periodically
reveal views of Granite Creek Valley below and the grandeur
of Open Door Mountain.
of the Teton Crest Trail. South Teton Canyon Trail
is a tough one to beat.
Teton Canyon Trail • (Teton
Valley - Driggs) • From the trailhead
at South Teton Creek you enter the trail in a forested
area right by the creek by you soon break out into open
meadow terrain that compliments the surroundings groves
of conifer and aspen all dwarfed by the cliff bands and
peaks of this gorgeous glacial valley. The hiking is easy
and in spring and early summer there are numerous waterfalls.
South Teton Creek Trail is in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness
and so all access is by foot or by horseback.
Darby Wind Cave is full of beautiful surprises.
Darby Creek - Wind Cave Trail • (Teton
Valley - Driggs) • Darby
Canyon Trail is one of several access points for the
Teton Crest Trail but it is better known for The Darby
Wind Cave which is the major draw to this popular Teton
Valley hike that takes you into the heart of the Jedidiah
Trailhead for south Fork of Darby Canyon is at 7,069 feet,
the first few miles of the climb up Darby Canyon winds
steeply through meadows and forest as it quickly gains
elevation. Intermittent waterfalls splash down the canyon
rim in early summer add to the hiking experience. After
about 2.5 miles the trail for the Darby Wind Cave forks
off to the right.
Highline Trail • (Jackson
Hol) • The Granite Highline Trail is often overlooked
due to Jackson Hole’s embarrassment of nature’s riches. It
is a beautiful high elevation trek up through the boreal forest
of Cache Creek and across the sub-alpine regions of the Horse
Creek Drainage and Granite Creek Drainage. A rugged, variable-length
day hike, or a 2-day hike featuring access to several high
peaks the trail is about 15 miles long. After the initial climb
on either side the trail remains remarkably level for most
of its length. Much of this trail is in open meadow with groves
of aspen and conifer here and there and much of the trail is
in the shadow of the Granite peaks above.
Trail provides access to the mountains north of Island
Park Idaho that stradle the Idaho Montana border.
Creek Trail • (Island
• Targhee Creek Trail I must say was a pleasant surprise,
canyon many times and never gave it a thought, as it
is unimpressive from the drivers seat at 55 miles per
hour on Highway 20. The Targhee Creek Trail
starts in a mixture of meadow and conifer and aspen
about 7,000 foot elevation but you soon leave the aspens
behind and the first three miles are an easy meander
along a pretty canyon bottom of open meadow and conifer
woods. Targhee Creek in August doesn’t have much volume
to it but I would bet that it hosts some fishy surprises
in it for the angler wishing to fish a tributary to
legendary anglers nirvana Henrys Lake.
Lake is a remote getaway deep into the Gros
Turquoise Lake (Jackson
Hole) • Turquoise
Lake is an alpine gem in the middle of the Gros Ventre
Wilderness and there are many ways to get there but the
most expeditious one is via the Goodwin Lake Trail. This
access facilitates a 2,000-foot elevation head start
over most others by virtue of its 8,000-foot trailhead. This
trip reveals the heart of the Gros Venture Wilderness,
the peaks of West Crystal to the east, the peaks of Packsaddle
Pass and Antoinette
Peak can be seen far to the southeast, to the south is Gros Peak and to the
south of it you see Pinnacle Peak. There is an impressive escarpment going
off the north side of Gros Peak that seems to speak of millions of years of
Lake (Teton Valley - Victor) • Moose
Creek Trail starts just east of Victor Idaho, it is one
for the Teton Crest
Trail that leads into the
heart of the Grand Teton Mountain Range. The Grand Teton’s, Moose Creek Trail,
is entirely within the Jedediah Smith Wilderness in the Caribou-Targhee National
Moose Falls you enter some wide open terrain that treats you to the glacial
nature of Moose Creek Canyon, and here the trail splits, here you can continue
to the right along the Teton Crest Trail to Grand Teton National Park, a
short distance away or turn to the left to continue to Moose Lake.
Creek Falls cascades down a red rock cliff of
the Wyoming Range.
Pass Trail• (Jackson Hole - Wilson) Phillips
Pass Trail is one of those cheater trails I like so well.
It starts about three quarters of the way to the top
of Teton Pass west of Wilson Wyoming, so the trail
at about 8,000 feet elevation. Starting at 8,000 feet
you are already into the beauty of the high country
only do you get t skip the climb, you also skip the pretty,
but vista challenged, boreal forest canyon bottoms most
mountain trails start at. Phillips Pass Trail is one
of the access points and is actually part of the Teton
Creek Falls - (Bonduant WY) • After
a few miles the canyon starts to narrow and the mostly
slopes start sporting crowns of beautiful red ochre cliff
faces that wouldn’t be out of place in southern Utah, but
are a pleasant surprise here in the Teton Region of Wyoming......................The
first waterfall you see is a lesser one on a fork of Cliff
Creek but when you see it look to the left, and the larger
Cliff Creek Falls is on the larger fork of the Creek. The
trail splits here, and trail #3137 goes to the left taking
you a short distance to the falls and beyond. Upon reaching
Cliff Falls (base elevation 8,000 feet) you are treated
to a cascading waterfall that tumbles 68 feet down into
a red rock basin. A spot right at the bottom is perfect
for a morning shower for those who camp here.
A peak in
the North Willow Creek Drainage
Willow Creek Trail (Star Valley) • The first couple of miles there are several
creek crossings but as you climb the trail veers away from
the creek. There are parts of the trail that is really
rocky and parts that are steep stretches of clay that could
easily turn to a dangerous slime, on horseback, in a rainstorm.
ATVer’s use the lower section but there was no evidence
of them in the higher elevations. About halfway you get
into the sub alpine terrain which provides better views
of the surrounding peaks and the canyon below.
When you think that you have reached McDougal
Pass, you haven’t, the first saddle drops you into the
head of Strawberry Creek where Strawberry Creek Trail merges
with North Willow Creek Trail for the final couple of hundred
yards to McDougal Pass. It is about a half mile from the
Strawberry/N. Willow divide to the Pass.
From the top of McDougal Pass, you look
down Bear Creek into the Greys River Drainage--------------------------> More
A peak in
the North Willow Creek Drainage
Creek Trail (Star Valley) • Strawberry
Creek Trail is one of the more accessible trails into the
rugged and scenic Salt River Range from Star Valley WY.
The trail starts at 7200 feet and follows a gorgeous valley
7.5 miles to McDougal Pass where Bear Creek trail begins
for a drop into the Greys River Valley. Hikers can take
the road to the end but if you are pulling a horse trailer
find a turnout before you get into as situation you wished
you were not in.
The trail starts in creek bottom boreal
forest and a short way up the trail, another trail cuts
off to the left, this trail is the Covey Cutoff Trail which
is a shorter way to get to the Greys River Drainage. This
is not marked so keep right if McDougal Pass is your destination.
From bottom to top there are plenty of open
areas to view the surrounding peaks of the Salt River Range.
About halfway up you enter the sub-alpine terrain and the
forest opens up creating greater viewing opportunities--------------------------> More
Creek Trail (Jackson Hole) • Willow
Creek is a major drainage system for the Wyoming Range,
the scenery is fantastic and provides prodigious,
geographic, flora and fauna viewing and
there are many trails you could get lost on. Take a map. The trail is popular
with horseback riders, mountain bikers, hikers hunters, and fisherman.
Hikers, Trout Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Willow Creek's headwaters begin high in
the Wyoming Range on the south end of Jackson Hole. Fisherman
may with to trying to outwit the feisty native Cutthroat
that make Willow Creek their home. These fish are native,
not stocked, so they offer a challenge for the most experienced
fly fisherman and an opportunity to advance the skills
of the novice. Catch and release only, please. The Jackson
Hole One Fly Foundation - National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Conservation Partnership Program is funded a project to
improve a degraded area along Willow Creek. --------------------------------------> More
Trout Lake (Yellowstone) • This serene and beautiful lake is accessible via a short hike through the forest. It is a steep 1/2-mile trail through a Douglas fir forest leads to the lake. Trout lake sits in a depression on a high bench above the Soda Butte Creek Canyon south of Cooke City. Formerly known as Fish Lake and Soda Butte Lake this 12-acre gem is a popular backcountry lake for hikers and anglers. --------------> more
Some of Greater Yellowstone's mountain ranges
Gros Ventre Mountains • The Gros Ventre Mountains
of western Wyoming is another fine example of western Wyoming’s
embarrassment of riches in the natural wonders department. The
range is composed of high craggy peaks, glacier scoured valleys,
and rolling sagebrush foothills. The Gros Ventre Mountains
much less visitation than the more well known Grand Teton Range
which you can see from much of the Gros Ventre’s northern
and western flanks. Views from the high country also include
views of the Absaroka Mountains, Wind River Mountains, the Snake
River Range and the Wyoming Range. The name Gros Ventre is from
the French word for "big belly", and originated from
Indian sign language meant to convey the idea of "always
hungry". .................. more about
A cattle ranch of the Gros Ventre Mountains in Bondurant, Wyoming
Rafters enjoy a float down the Greys River that drains the Wyoming Range
Range • The Wyoming Range runs for about eighty
miles in a north-south direction in western Wyoming. These
mountains are a mixture of rolling open slopes dotted with
aspen groves and forested hills with pines, spruce, and fir
trees. Waterfalls plunging over high cliffs are tucked in
rugged mountain peaks. Many of the peaks in the range rise
to over 10,000 feet the highest is Wyoming Peak at 11,363
These magnificent mountains remain in relative obscurity due
to their proximity to the more famous Wind River Mountains
and the Grand Tetons; this makes solitude more achievable
Wyoming Range is not as rugged or remote as the nearby Wind
River Range or Gros Ventre Mountains................... more about
Snake River Range • The Snake River Range starts
at the southern end of the Grand Teton Mountain Range between
and Teton Valley Idaho and is part of the Targhee National
Forest. The range extends northwest to Victor Idaho, west to
Idaho and south to Alpine Wyoming. The Snake River is the eastern
boundary back up to the Tetons. This is rugged country, and
has plenty of water; glaciers and running water shaped the
deep canyons. The lush vegetation will impress the visitor,
the land is dynamic and unstable, rockslides and earth flows
common, landslides created both Upper Palisades and Lower Palisades
Lakes a couple of jewels of the range. Mount Baird, at 10,042
feet, is the highest point in the Snake River Range. ................... more about
Mountain Goats of the Snake River Range
The Grand Tetons • One of the things that sets
the eastern view of the Grand Tetons apart from other ranges
is there are not any foothills to obstruct the view. The actions
of nature’s elements have sculpted a monolith of sharply notched
peaks accented by deep U shaped glaciated canyons that are
truly a sight to behold. If you think the Grand Tetons is awe
inspiring from the valley floor a trip into the center of them
will set new benchmarks for beauty for the hard drive in your
skull. .................. more about
The Wind River Range • A mountain is the best medicine for a troubled mind. Seldom does man ponder his own insignificance. He thinks he is master of all things. He thinks the world is his without bonds. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only when he tramps the mountains alone, communing with nature, observing other insignificant creatures about him, to come and go, as he will, does he awaken to his own short-lived presence on earth. — Finis Mitchell, "Wind River Trails" The Wind River Range is a remote hundred plus mile range, stretching through Wyoming along the crest of the Continental Divide. Among the Winds unrelenting height, contain seven of the ten largest glaciers in the Rocky Mountains, as well as more than 2.25 million acres of public land. They are in the southeast section of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest environmentally intact temperate-zone ecosystem in the lower 48 states. .................. more about
Flat Top Peak, Wind River Range
Upper Jade Lake hiker, Absaroka Range
The Absaroka Mountain Range • The Absaroka Mountain Range is a sub-range on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains stretching for about 150 miles across the Montana-Wyoming border. A complex range, it takes significant effort to learn all the various groups, sections, and drainages. More specifically a member of the Central Rocky Mountain Chain stretching from Livingston (Montana) to a point east of Dubois Wyoming, it forms the core of the Yellowstone region of the Central Rockies. Some 165 miles in length and 75 miles wide at its widest. It is, depending on how one measures, the largest individual range in the 1200-mile-long Rocky Mountain Chain. The Continental Divide passes through the southwestern corner of the range but not near the crest. The range wraps around the eastern and northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The high alpine meadows have prolific wild flower displays in the summer months starting with the balsamroot in early June. Tall perennials such as cow parsnip, penstemon, lupine, monkshood, and western coneflower. These plants grow so tall that they obscure lightly used trails by midsummer. Black bears are relatively common, elk and moose are abundant; there is a population of mountain goats in the much of the middle of the range. It is the home to many trophy mule deer. Grizzly bears, which move in winter from Yellowstone National Park to the nearby lower elevations of the Absaroka Range Wolves, are seen regularly. There are many grizzlies here so use all due caution................... more about
The Gallatin Range rises in as a mass of sharp peaks, craggy ridges, and expansive alpine plateaus, split by steep canyons, accented with snowdrifts, draped with verdant evergreen forests, and rich with creeks, and waterfalls. Douglas fir and aspen grace the lower elevations, along with scattered juniper and limber pine. In the higher elevations lodgepole pine, englemann spruce, and subalpine fir mix with rich mountain meadows. Near treelike, whitebark pines dominate the hillsides above 9,500 feet in the subalpine region you find alpine tundra and scattered groves of Subalpine Fir and Engelmann Spruce. Because of the Gallatin’s embarrassment of riches it is a major playground of Bozeman Montana’s 12,000 students of Montana State University as well as most of the residents there not to mention all who live and play in Paradise Valley, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. Oh yeah, and the tens of thousands that come to play here from elsewhere. The range itself has outstanding hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, camping and mountaineering. All the streams have stellar native trout fishing, and the Yellowstone and Gallatin Rivers are destination fly-fisheries and whitewater destinations............ More About
The Galatin Range, Hylite Reservior, Bozeman Montana
Woman Mountain Climber negotatiing tough section of rock wall
Mountaineering is the sport of walking, hiking, backpacking, skiing and climbing mountains and it is a great way to see the mountains of the Greater Yellowstone Region if you are fit and adventurous enough to do so. Greater Yellowstone’s Grand Teton Mountain Range has been a world-renowned mountaineering destination for mountaineers for a century.
While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains, it has branched into specializations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists of three areas: rock-craft, snow-craft and skiing, depending on whether the route chosen is over rock, snow or ice. All require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety.
Rock climbing another part of mountaineering is a sport in which climbers climb up or across natural rock formations. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route. Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport, one that often tests a climber's strength, endurance, agility, and balance along with his or her mental control. It can be a dangerous sport and knowledge of proper climbing techniques and usage of specialized climbing equipment is crucial for the safe completion of routes. Because of the wide range and variety of rock formations around the world rock climbing has been separated into several different styles and sub-disciplines that are described below.
Climbing communities have developed rating systems for routes. Ratings (or "grades") record and communicate consensus appraisals of difficulty. The ratings take into account multiple factors affecting a route, such as the slope of the ascent, the quantity and quality of available handholds, the distance between holds, and whether advanced technical maneuvers are required.
Compacted snow conditions allow mountaineers to progress on foot. Frequently crampons are required to travel efficiently over snow and ice. They are used on hard snow and ice to provide additional traction and allow very steep ascents and descents. Snowshoes can be used to walk through deep snow. Skis can be used everywhere snowshoes can and also in steeper, more alpine landscapes, although it takes considerable practice to develop strong skills for difficult terrain.
Ascending and descending a snow slope safely requires the use of an ice axe and many different footwork techniques that have been developed over the past century.
Combining the techniques of alpine skiing and mountaineering to ascend and descend a mountain is a form of the sport by itself, called Ski Mountaineering which has seen amazing popularity with our adrenalin junkies of Bozeman MT, Jackson Hole, Cody and Lander WY and Teton Valley Idaho. Ski mountaineering is a sport that combines the techniques of skiing (often ski touring) with those of mountaineering. The goal of the ski mountaineer may be to climb a beautiful mountain by a worthy route and then ski the mountain down an elegant line, preferably from the summit. But ski mountaineering is really distinguished from ski touring by a willingness and desire to travel over any part of the mountain, not just those areas with sheltered powder snowfields or other nice descending conditions. This may include significant rock, ice or broken glacier sections, as well as traverses and enchainements rather than just single peak ascents.
While using skiing techniques for much of the time, ski mountaineers climb otherwise inaccessible or dangerous slopes on foot using a range of mountaineering equipment - typically crampons, ice axes and ropes - while skis are carried strapped to their backpack. This either permits access to extreme slopes, or more often allows transit through otherwise impassable terrain in order to continue beyond on skis, where normal ski touring equipment such as skins and harscheisen (ski crampons - also called couteau or cortelli) are used.
Ice climbers test their skiils on the ice in the South Fork of the Shoshone Valley outside Cody WY.
Ice climbing, as the term indicates, is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water.
For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice is generally component of longer routes and often less technical, have more in common with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technical challenge.
Ice is weird stuff, though climbing it might just be weirder. Ice-climbing is also potentially painful: half the equipment has sharp metal points (like tools, crampons, and ice-screws) that mix well with neither the other half of the equipment (like clothes, pack, and rope), nor with the soft flesh of a climber. And then there’s the objective danger. Ice-climbs are temporary features of winter, and are in a perpetual state of falling down during their short life-spans. That’s the part of ice-climbing that’s potentially lethal. The paradox of ice-climbs is that they can provide the easiest and safest means of ascent of a cliff, or a mountain. The trick is to determine when an ice-climb is safe, and to do that requires knowing all about ice.
Some important techniques and practices common in rock climbing that are employed in ice climbing include knowledge of rope systems, tying in, belaying, leading, abseiling, and lowering. Beginners should learn these techniques before attempting to ice climb. It is highly recommended that one acquire knowledge from experts and experienced ice climbers.
The Greater Yellowstone Region being the ice box it is in winter provides many frozen waterfalls in winter that provide great Ice climbing but two places have ice climbing destinations, Cody Wyoming’s South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley in the Absaroka Mountains and Bozeman Montana’s Hyalite Canyon in the Gallatin Range. Both areas have Ice Climbing Festivals, the Bozeman Ice Festival and the Water Fall Ice Festival in Cody.
Mountaineering & Ski Guides
Rock Climber, Blacktail Butte, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Ski and Snowboard Tours • (Teton Valley) Established in
1986, Rendezvous Ski and Snowboard Tours operates three backcountry
ski yurts high on the western slope of the Tetons near Jackson Hole
and Grand Targhee Ski Resort. Our huts provide access to the Jedediah
Smith Wilderness Area and Grand Teton National Park, where over
500 inches of legendary light, dry powder snow falls each winter.
A variety of terrain from high mountain ridges and broad, low-angled
powder bowls, to the steep and deep combine to make some of the
best backcountry ski terrain in the lower 48.
Mountain Guides • (Jackson Hole) Exum offers group and
private avalanche training, alpine and nordic ski tours, and ski
and snowboard descents of the remarkable mountains of the Teton
area. You will gain basic avalanche awareness, improve your skiing
and snowboarding technique, and practice the use of avalanche rescue
transceivers. Technical skills, such as steep skiing, rock and ice
climbing, and rappelling are practiced during ski and snowboard
Expedetion • (Yellowstone) Let us show you the finest
way to experience a true Yellowstone winter, at a cross-country
skier's pace from the Yellowstone Yurt Camp. Join our certified
backcountry ski guides to explore the Yellowstone backcountry. Our
multiday cross-country skiing excursions are based from the comfortable
Canyon Skier's "Yurt Camp" located only one half mile
from the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Montana Alpine Guides • (Bozeman Montana) Montana Alpine Guides is Montana's premier rock climbing and mountaineering guide service. Montana Alpine Guides has been serving Bozeman, Big Sky, Yellowstone National Park, and southwest Montana for over ten years. Montana Alpine Guides offers personalized professional instruction in the arts of rock climbing ice climbing, mountaineering, hiking and backpacking. Specializing in guiding novice and intermediate climbers Montana Alpine Guides promotes climbing as a safe and exciting activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Our instructors are highly skilled professional guides who are dedicated to teaching the art of climbing and who provide the skills and confidence necessary for you to safely enjoy your alpine adventures.
Mountaineering & XC-Ski Stores
Rock Climber Bian, The Shield in Hoback Canyon
Skis • (Jackson
Hole) Finding the right gear and
clothing for cross country skiing begins with a visit
to Skinny Skis.
1974 Skinny Skis has been Jackson Hole's leading shop. In
addition to featuring the finest line-up of cross country
Skinny Skis carries summer and winter outdoor gear and clothing
from many of the world's leading manufacturers: Patagonia,
Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx, Salomon, Cloudveil,
Rossignol, Fischer and Black Diamond, to name but a few.
Mountaineering • (Jackson Hole)
Teton Mountaineering is
the oldest outdoor specialty shop in the United States. This year
we are celebrating our twenty-ninth anniversary,
and actually, our business dates back even farther, having originated
as the "Outhaus" in the nineteen-fifties. Our commitment
to both excellence in retailing and to our unique mountain heritage
Mountain Equipment • (Teton
Mountain Equipment is a backcountry skiing and outdoor
equipment shop located in Driggs, Idaho. We are avid outdoors
men and women who are out "testing" the equipment whenever
we can and we'll be happy to share with you how it works for us.
Wild Iris Mountain Sports • (Lander WY) At the base of the Wind River Mountains. Wild Iris Mountain Sports the climbing store for information on climbing and back packing the Wind River range, as well as rock climbing in Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, Sweetwater Rocks, Baldwin Creek. Our helpful staff can answer any of your questions about the Cirque of the Towers, Gannett Peak, Dickinson Park, Stough Creek Basin, Popo Agie Falls and more Wind River Mountains destinations. We carry many climbing books and guide books, as well as outdoor gear brands like Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, Marmot and Prana.
Core Mountain Sports • (Cody Wyoming) Welcome to the new Core Mountain Sports! The new CMS will serve as your one stop shop for Wyoming adventure, by combining Rock, Ice, Water and a helpful community you will feel right at home knowing your passion is ours!
Barrel Mountaineering: • (Bozeman Montana) A full-service outdoor store specializing in functional outdoor apparel, back- packing, climbing equipment, backcountry ski gear, maps and books.We pride ourselves in providing the best outdoor gear complete with honest, knowledgeable customer service.
The Grand Tetons at Jackson Lake
The Grand Tetons are a magnet for mountaineers from
all over the world. The jagged snow-crusted peaks epitomize the ruggedness
of the West, All the elements of alpine climbing, rock, ice, snow, and
altitude, are represented in the Tetons. Glaciers, striking arêtes,
fist-size cracks, steep rocky ridges and ice couloirs abound providing
climbers a true alpine experience. This variety makes them especially
appealing to experienced mountaineers who use the Tetons to apply their
technical rock climbing skills in alpine settings and to train for Alaskan
or Himalayan expeditions.
At first glance the Tetons are daunting to novice, the
massifs known as Grand Teton, Middle Teton, South Teton, Moran and Teewinot
are surprisingly accessible once you’ve mastered a few essential moves, learn how to read rock, how to knot a rope, how to belay a companion, and to leverage your arm and leg muscles and you’ll
be capable of climbing the Tetons.
Ascents of Grand Teton typically involve two days. The first day climbers leave
Lupine Meadows Trailhead by 10 a.m., and hike up hike up Garnet Canyon trail,
the main approach to the Grand. Along the way you are treated to views of stunning
alpine terrain. To the north, periodic clearings of the conifer forest reveal
Mt.Teewinot, Middle Teton and the Grand, that appear as distinct razor edges
and chiseled stone. Your arrive at the Lower Saddle between the Grand and Middle
Teton by late afternoon where you camp for the night. After a night spent at
the 11,650-foot saddle you push on in the early morning darkness for the summit.
The main approach to the summit is the Owen-Spaulding route, graded 5.4, a
relatively easy technical climb even for the novice.
The accessibility and comparatively modest heights of the Tetons lead some to underestimate their dangers. Altitude sickness, avalanche and wildlife, all pose hazards, lightning is a serious threat and it can snow any month of the year and does.
Mountain guides are available for hire, two well-regarded companies offer a variety of classes and private mountain guide services depending on skill level and experience: Jackson Hole Mountain Guides (www.jhmg.com; 800-239-7642) and Exum Mountain Guides (www.exumguides.com; 307-733-2297). offer classes and guided trips throughout the year to introduce climbers of all skills and ages to the Tetons.
There are many worthy peaks in the range offering a spectrum
of climbing opportunities, Guide's Wall on Storm Point, is a moderate climb
(5.7 to 5.9) on quality, or solid, golden rock is one of the more popular
one-day routes in the range. Other interesting day climbs include Baxter's
Pinnacle, the southwest ridge of Symmetry Spire and the of Mount Owen’s steep
Local Guide Books
Teton Skiing: A History and Guide
to the Teton Range, Wyoming by Thomas Turiano
Teton Skiing is a phenomenal book written eloquently
and comically from the perspective of a mountaineer (Tom Turiano) who
has climbed and skiied nearly every peak in the range. The book is perfect
for someone thinking about a trip to the Tetons in order to gain more
insight into the history that made it the touring site it is today,
as well as, a guide to help in planning your trip. It is also a great
book for anyone interested in history and/or the outdoors in general.
Although it is partly a guidebook, it was more intersting to me for
its well researched and colorful history of this mythical wonder called
the Tetons. If you haven't been to Wyoming's Tetons, this book will
make you want to go. If you have been, it will drive you to return and
discover things unseen. A book I treasure!
Climbing in the Wind River Range
A mountaineer's introduction to the Wind River Range is usually a trip to climb the Cirque of Towers or a peak-bagging attempt of Gannett or Fremont. One trip to these common areas usually leads to a second and third trips to the Winds. This is because it takes one trip to realize the general quality of climbing in the range as a whole and to fully ascertain the vastness of the multitude of cirques, basins and valleys. While Gannett and "the Cirque" are certainly worthy goals, the rest of the Wind Rivers is equally spectacular and nearly empty of mountaineers. There are entire valleys that see only a few parties per year.In the Northern part of the Wind River Range, the glaciers and high peaks and 27 of Wyoming's 32 thirteeners are in this section. Crowned by Wyoming’s tallest, Gannett and Fremont Peaks. Plan two-day approaches to these alpine, ice, rock and scrambling routes.
St. Elias Alpine
Guides • Explore Alaska's
largest national park with the local experts, based in Wrangell-St.
since 1978. Half and
full-day glacier hikes, ice-climbing, trekking, backpacking, rafting,
skiing and mountaineering courses & expeditions. Our professional,
personable guides love to share their in-depth knowledge of this
Copper Oar • Copper Oar offers wilderness rafting
and multi-sport adventures in Alaska’s largest national park,
Wrangell-St. Elias, and throughout the state. Their adventures are
1-15 days in
length and suitable for everyone from children and novice adventurers
to veteran river travelers looking for the next great journey. Copper
Oar specializes in professional, personable guides, an in-depth knowledge
of the local human and natural history, great food, and creating
adventures of a lifetime!
SWS Mountain Guides * Welcome to SWS Mountain Guides courses and climbs are conducted year around whether a first time backpackers or a skilled mountaineer, we have a course to get you started or improve your techniques. We have been teaching & guiding, mountaineering, backpacking, winter mountaineering, rock & ice climbing for over 29 years on the best mountains in California. As well as conducting small personalized expeditions, treks & adventure travel throughout the world for over 20 years. We have an excellent safety record and our climbs and courses are kept small for maximum safety and the best experience! So whether you want to backpack in Yosemite or Climb some of the worlds biggest mountains, come explore our website and "EXPERIENCE THE ADVENTURE" with SWS Mountain Guides. We look forward to having you join us in 2010!
Life-Link • (Jackson
When you live in Jackson Hole as we do you have the Tetons
backyard. Our backyard provides some of the best
skiing and boarding on the planet. This is where the inspiration
for many of our products comes from. These ideas don’t
just come from us they come from our pro staff, our friends,
guides, patrollers and even folks who are just passing through
but have a passion for the backcountry and want the very
best equipment they can find.
(Teton Valley) Outdoor
clothing and gear for snowmobiling, skiing, horseback riding,
atv riding, hiking and water sports, including
EC2 boxer briefs, merino wool socks, winter boots, gloves, shorts,
altimeter watches, hydration packs, fleecewear and raingear.
10 Essentials for Multi-Day Backpacking
Kevin Jackson • I have been involved in several backpacking
trips all over the world and the one constant is the importance of adequate
for the environment — regardless
if we are leading a group through the Wind River Range in Wyoming or
hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia..........................................For
example, I recently led a five-day adventure through the Maroon Bells,
and Snowmass Wilderness outside Aspen, Colorado, and we experienced
conditions that were both unexpected and hazardous.
It was our essential gear that enabled us to enjoy the trip and cope
with the freezing weather and heavy snowfall. ..............................As
a rule of thumb, you want to pack lightly and take only what you need.
with a difficult situation there are
certain items that should always be carried on any multi-day backpacking
trip. Here is my list of the 10 essentials. (Of course, if you take
regular backpacking trips, you should make your own list and share it
with the rest of your party. A little planning means less worries and
a better overall experience for everyone.)----------------> More
Ice Climbing the walls in Teton Valley • by Mike Polhamus
A local mountain guide is gearing up this week for ice climbing this winter, but his preparations are much more extensive than most climbing expeditions require. That’s because Christian Santelices, owner of Aerial Boundaries in Victor, is actually installing the ice climbs themselves, up on the Parking Lot Cliffs area of Grand Targhee...........................The climbs will consist of 35 to 40 foot sections of vertical climbing, with another approximately 60 feet of lower-angle, broken terrain below that..........................................All 100 feet or so of the route will be covered in thick ice, provided by a system of low-flow shower heads installed above the cliffs and a 3,000-gallon water truck parked above the cliffs on cold nights.----------------------------> More
Carbiner Climbing Rope
Cody WY • Annual Water Fall Ice Festival - Presidents Weekend. The South Fork ice climbing is like NO other ice in the Northern Rockies. The Valley has literally hundreds of frozen waterfalls each year. Many climbers visit the Valley season after season and still haven't climbed many of the waterfalls here.
Lander WY • The International Climbers’ Festival - The International Climbers’ Festival is an annual event with the mission of promoting and celebrating the sport of rock climbing. The festival runs in conjunction with three local Lander scholarships and programs, the Jim Ratz Memorial Scholarship, the Todd Skinner Foundation and BARF, the local Bolt and Anchor Replacement Fund. Proceeds from the festival support some of these programs. - First or second weeking in July - check first
City of Rocks • Idaho Mountain Festival • the Idaho Mountain Festival, a four-day outdoor event at City of Rock National Reserve and Castle Rocks State Park in Idaho held the last weekent of . These two parks are home of some of the best granite domes for sport, trad, and bouldering. At the festival, outdoor enthusiasts will have the chance to enjoy the classic granite rock climbing and peaceful trail runs while socializing with new and old friends................. check website for dates