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Ascent of Grays Peak on 2016-07-29

Climber: Kelsey Backen

Others in Party:Martha Mendoza-Backen
Date:Friday, July 29, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Grays Peak
    Location:USA-Idaho
    Elevation:10563 ft / 3219 m

Ascent Trip Report

Thought I would try to take my wife on another peak bagging adventure. I have always wanted to scout out the route to get to the heart of the Pioneers (Hyndman et al.) so I figured climbing Grays Peak would be a fun way to do it. I figured it wouldn't be too hard and we would get a great view on the top. I also wanted to climb a different route than the documented Federal Gulch Pack Trail and figured we could take some time and distance off our hike by starting further up the road, at the base of one of the light green streaks (drainages seen on satellite imagery) coming off of the western ridge that leads up to Grays Peak.


The route in on the East Fork Big Wood River Rd was beautiful (wish I could own a house there) and soon we were on NF-118, which is a well cared for two track. The branches on the shrubs never even started to touch the sides of my Tundra until just before Sawmill Gulch. Once we passed Paymaster gulch I knew the drainages were coming up so I started looking for a place to pull off. There was a great spot (previously used for camping as evidenced by the remnants of a camp fire) and we pulled in there, this was at roughly 7200' map contour. I knew we would have to cross the East Fork Wood River eventually and this gave us time to walk east and look for a crossing before we hit the two drainage options. We didn't see a good dry way over before or at the first (most west) drainage, so we kept walking. Just past the second drainage we spotted a downed tree and crossed it.


0800 We started heading into the drainage which began the bushwhacking adventure. It was a mix of mostly Quaking Aspens with some Pines mixed in. It was kind of like Plinko, only we were the pucky disc thing and the trees were the pegs. Accidentally, we stayed too far east and got ourselves into a different draw. We noticed our mistake, but decided to keep going rather than back track. The mistake led us up the eastern-most draw from the 2nd drainage. We just kept hiking SE and up, until we hit the ridge. The climb up was pretty steep (class 2), I would give it a 40+ degree slop, but that doesn't compute with the topo. Anyway, it was grassy and mostly good progress. We made the ridge just south of point 8945. We sat down, at some snacks and drank water, then took some pictures (Cobb and Old Hyndman highlighting the view north).


After the break we followed the ridge SE (come class 3) until we hit the East-West ridge where the Federal Gulch approach would come in to play. We finished the final 1000 feet, the last stretch being the hardest due to the loose small chunky rocks and dirt. We reached the summit at 1230 (4.5 hours). We spend a 45 minutes on the summit eating, drinking, taking photos/videos, and watching the assortment of flying insects (Ants, Bees, Flys, Lady Bugs, and Butterflies).

The for the down climb we took the 1st of the two drainages (the one we didn't go up). It was very similar to the drainage we took up (class 2). We zig-zagged (tacked) a bunch, slipped and fell backwards a bunch, walked across the river, and got back to the truck by 1530 (3 hours down). All in all, a great hike with great views. Another great hike would be to go up Paymaster Gulch to climb Paymaster Peak, Peak 11027 and Peak 11210.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3360 ft / 1024 m
    Grade/Class:Mostly class 2, some
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Beautiful, some wind
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3360 ft / 1024 m
    Route:Drainage and bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Just after Paymaster Gulch on 118  7203 ft / 2195 m
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 0 Minutes



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