Ascent of Owl Creek Mountains High Point on 2007-08-16

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Thursday, August 16, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owl Creek Mountains High Point
    Elevation:9874 ft / 3009 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Thermopolis, I proceeded 8 miles NW on WY-120, then 10 miles W on WY-170 to the junction with WY-174, then 10.8 miles farther W to a mailbox on an upright log on the left (south) side of the road. A sign identifies the address of the mailbox as 2983. Turn south on an unsigned, unpaved road and start your odometer here.

The road is narrow and not too rocky, but it is uneven enough that a vehicle without high clearance would probably have trouble occasionally, and a vehicle without 4WD would probably have trouble if it is wet. The road is shown on the 7.5' topo as two solid parallel lines, but I feel it should be two dashed lines. At 1.7 miles and again at 2.6 miles, go left at a fork. At 6.1 miles, begin climbing a series of switchbacks with a high grass center up a steep hillside. At 8.2 miles reach the top of the switchbacks. At 11.8 miles reach a junction at Blondy Pass. From here a side road heads east to a spring in a cow pasture. For the first ½ mile the condition of this road is about the same as before Blondy Pass, but after the spring at 8250' it becomes steep and rocky and its condition worsens, so I decided to park here and continue on foot.

I hiked up the road above the spring. At a cow pasture at about 8750' an unmapped road heads straight ahead whereas the desired road turns right and makes a gradual ascending traverse up the SW flank of the HP. I turned left, heading more steeply uphill, at the junction ¼ mile SE of point 9141. When the open grassy meadow at saddle 9426 began to come into view, I left the road and headed straight uphill to the left of a rock outcrop at 9500'. As I continued uphill toward the summit, I found myself inside an arc of 50-100' high white cliffs, broken only by an occasional 3rd class chimney. It wasn't obvious what the preferred route through the cliffs was.

Eventually, however, I found a good class 2 gully, and on my return trip I built a series of cairns to help future county prom baggers. To find this route, head slightly right toward a band of scattered trees and find two cairns. Turn slightly right at the 2nd cairn and find the 3rd cairn on a log in a wide gap between two trees above. Follow a few more cairns to the base of a wide, shallow, easy class 2 gully that goes through a gap in the cliffs. Find one final cairn at the top of the gully; this will be useful to find the correct gully on the way down. The broad, grassy slope on top of the cliffs has scattered small pine trees where you first reach it, but as you continue to climb uphill to the summit, the terrain becomes completely open.

This climb is probably not entirely kosher. I passed a couple of signs identifying the Wind River IR and warning about hunting and trespassing, but signs didn't seem too serious and there were no gates. From the vicinity of Blondy Pass all the way to about 9100' (including where I parked near the spring), there are herds of grazing cows most of the way, wherever there is open pasture. I encountered no one, but there probably would have been some objection if I had.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1574 ft / 479 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1574 ft / 479 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Start Trailhead:Blondy Pass  8300 ft / 2529 m
    Time:2 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes

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