Ascent of Medicine Bow Peak on 2012-08-13

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Petter Bjørstad
Date:Monday, August 13, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Medicine Bow Peak
    Elevation:12013 ft / 3661 m

Ascent Trip Report

We climbed this the day after Cloud Peak. We made a relatively late start as we first had to renew a tyre and then travel from Casper.

The peak is most easily climbed from the south, near Snowy Range Pass on highway 30/287. We started from the Lake Marie trailhead (N41.33164 W106.32574, 3223m) which is the first one reached travelling eastbound. Half a mile further east is the Medicine Bow trailhead which offers a more direct route to the summit: we descended that way.

Immediately on leaving the Lake Marie trailhead, we fork L then follow the very obvious trail as it zigzags upwards onto the ridge, giving fine views of the lake and a dramatic line of cliffs. We didn't start until 1257 which is rather late given the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms (which the trailhead signboard also warns of) and we see quite a few folk very sensibly hiking downhill after a morning hike.

The trail gains a gentle scarp slope strewn with patches of quartzite boulders which it mostly manages to avoid. We see dark clouds gather, then there are a few raindrops, then thunder, but no lightning. We are below ridge level so we stop a while, hoping the storm will pass. It does, but another system is following on. We decide to go for this window to then quickly get off the summit via the Lakes Trail to the eastern trailhead. We push on quickly, passing the trail junction N41.35635 W106.32878 (3509m) coming up from the north (Dipper Lake, Heart Lake) and are soon climbing the summit rock pile (N41.36029 W106.31764, 3657m, cairn). By now it is raining heavily (also hail briefly) but the thunder seems to have moved away. The summit is no place to linger today - as Petter mentions to a couple we discover unexpectedly hiding under a boulder next to the summit cairn!

The start of the descent route isn't clear but continuing east across slippery quartzite boulders, parallel with the clifftop, cairns soon appear. A cairn at N41.36065 W106.31562 marks the point at which the trail descends S then zigzags down to a broad saddle with lovely views E across numerous small lakes and W along the line of dramatic cliffs seen earlier during our ascent.

At the broad saddle we pick up a trail which leads W towards the trailheads. The rain stops, the sun comes out and we start to thaw and dry out during the 2 mile return hike, admiring the line of cliffs at close quarters en route. Once at Medicine Bow trailhead (N41.33848 W106.32308, parking lot) we take an obvious walkway west paralleling the main road, which gets us back to Marian Lake trailhead at 1548 after 3 hours of varied, highly scenic and at times rather scary hiking!

We then head south to Denver where we'll be based for the last few days of our trip. Next day we continue with Puma Peak.

Medicine Bow Peak photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1571 ft / 478 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1571 ft / 478 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cold, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1505 ft / 458 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1439 ft / 439 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Loss on way in:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Route:SW ridge
    Start Trailhead:Lake Marie trailhead  10574 ft / 3222 m
    Time:1 Hours 34 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1505 ft / 458 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1439 ft / 439 m; Extra: 66 ft / 20m
    Gain on way out:66 ft / 20 m
    Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route:SW ridge
    End Trailhead:Lake Marie trailhead  10574 ft / 3222 m
    Time:1 Hours 26 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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