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Ascent of Eagle Peak on 2014-08-24

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Sunday, August 24, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Eagle Peak
    Location:USA-Wyoming
    Elevation:11367 ft / 3464 m

Ascent Trip Report

Aug 23 – hike to Eagle Creek Meadows
Aug 24 – Summit, return to camp
Aug 25 – hike out, drive to Grand Teton

Katie and I had just attempted to climb Grand Teton but been thwarted by a freak August snowstorm and had hiked out to wait for better weather. We drove in to Yellowstone on August 22 and visited all the geysers and tourist sites. On August 23 we drove out the East Entrance road and parked at the Eagle Creek campground. We were planning to leave our car there for a few nights while we hiked, so went and found the campground managers to let them know.

The man and woman looked very concerned for some reason when we told them we were planning to climb Eagle Peak. They said someone else had just finished climbing it. I suspected this was one of John Mitchler’s friends, since he’d told me there was a chance we could coordinate. Maybe the managers were just confused why this one peak very far in the backcountry was so popular. Indeed, by some definitions of remoteness the region near Eagle Peak in eastern Yellowstone is one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states (farthest distance from a road).

We packed up some overnight gear and set off. The trail was very flat, and unfortunately very full of horse poop. It must be a very popular packers trail. We had to cross a few streams that required taking our shoes off, but nothing too deep.

By the afternoon we made it the Eagle Creek Meadows and set up or tent for the night. There was an excellent
packers camp in the trees with good logs around a big fire pit. I don’t think the packers generally go farther than the meadows, though.

In the morning we packed light and hiked up the steeper trail to Eagle Pass. That was the official border with Yellowstone National Park, and was marked by a small sign on a tree. At the pass we turned west and started scrambling the ridge. The summit started out in the sun but soon got socked in the clouds.

We went up and over a few minor bumps, then reached the base of a steep impassable cliff band. At the cliff band we traversed left on steep dirty slopes. We had to be careful because the slopes ended in cliffs below, though it wasn’t too difficult.

Eventually we traversed far enough until we found the famous “keyhole”. It was a small gully that had a huge chockstone wedged inside. We climbed under the chockstone and wriggled through a small hole to get to the top of the cliff band.

From there the summit was close, but the clouds got more dense. I put frequent cairns on our route so we could follow it back in poor visibility. We generally angled up and right until we hit the ridge crest, then followed the ridge left to the summit.

An ammo box held a small summit register and we quickly signed in. There was no view in the thick clouds and it soon started snowing. After a few pictures we retreated. I was glad to have heavily cairned the route to make navigation back easier.

We squeezed back through the keyhole, then traversed back to the ridge on the now wet and snowy slopes. The snow increased in intensity as we hiked down, and we dove in the tent as it changed to rain at the lower elevation. I was glad we weren’t trying Grand Teton again that day.

The next morning the snow eased up and we hiked back out. We then started our drive south to give Grand Teton another shot.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
Summary Total Data



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