The snowy crest of Gannett Peak rises in the heart of the most rugged and glaciated mountainscape in the American Rockies, dominating the northern Wind River Range. Those enamored of the famous and showy Grand Teton often begrudge Gannett its status at Wyoming's apex, muttering about the mere 34 feet separating the summit elevations. But anyone who has ventured into the remote "Winds" on an expedition to Gannett will come away with full respect for this fine and deserving state highpoint.
Gannett is commonly considered one of the toughest of the US State highpoints to attain, along with Granite Peak in Montana, Mount Rainier in Washington, and, of course, Denali. A combination of long approach hikes, steep snow/ice, and challenging rock scrambling or climbing make this a peak not for beginners or casual climbers.
Like many big mountains, Gannett Peak has many routes. Four of the most common are:
- From the town of Dubois and Trail Lakes Ranch, the Glacier Trail goes up and down for 20 miles or so before reaching the base of the Dinwoody Glacier. Here you climb the Gooseneck Ridge and Gooseneck Gully (steep ice or snow) to gain the summit ridge. This is probably considered the "standard" route.
- From the town of Pinedale and the Elkhart Park Trailhead, you can approach from the southwest, passing Island Lake and camping in Titcomb Basin. Main drawback to this route is that on summit day you must climb up and over Dinwoody Pass at the crest of the range before climbing Gannett itself by the Gooseneck route, making for a very long and hard day.
- You can cut off a large distance on the Glacier Trail by using the Ink Wells Trail. But the main issue here is that Ink Wells trailhead is on the Wind River Indian Reservation and the tribe will charge you a large sum (usually over $150) for use of their land. It can be a hassle to get the permit and transportation arranged for this option.
- The west face route may be the shortest in distance and elevation gain, but it requires some bushwhacking and it has the most rugged rock climbing of any of these four routes. The start is at the Green River Lakes trailhead.
Any one of these routes will be a three to five day expedition for most teams. You will need to bring rope, ice axe, crampons, and protection for rock and ice.