Ascent of Gannett Peak on 2018-06-30

Climber: Tracy Foutz

Others in Party:Richard Rojas
Justin Lang
Date:Saturday, June 30, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Gannett Peak
    Elevation:13804 ft / 4207 m

Ascent Trip Report

After my trip to Wyoming to backpack into the Wind River Mountain Range and climb Gannett Peak, Wyoming's highest, I feel relieved to be back home and healed up.
First and foremost, I have to thank Richard Rojas and his friend Justin Lang for having me along on an adventure that they were unable to finish due to a tight time frame which was not flexible for them due to return flight times. I had driven my Jeep from Henderson, Nevada; I'm retired; I didn't HAVE to be back for anything as soon as they did; and, I packed my pack so as to be self-supported (my own stove, first aid kit, water purifier, etc.) in case I needed to leave the trip earlier than they had planned (with extra food in case I needed to stay longer than they had planned). I will spare everyone the minor details, but after hiking 12+ miles the first day and gaining/regaining more than 4,500 feet in elevation with +/-55 lb. backpacks, we had a discussion the next morning of what our options were. Justin had decided that with the trail conditions, being what they were, and given our first day's rate of progress it was not possible for the three of us to summit the peak and then return all the way out in the time frame that had been planned. What he said all made sense, but I couldn't accept the idea that I should turn back with them. I had given it a lot of thought off and on through the night. There was extra food and other items that in total weighed 10-15 pounds that I could cache at that first night's campsite. I had my satellite 2-way communication device. I have rescue insurance. There were others on the trail that I could possibly team up with. If I didn't finish what I started, I might not ever make it back; after all, my future abilities would be limited with the practically certain progression of my Parkinson's Disease. Richard likely sensed my determination and said we should wait for the other guys on the trail we had met that were headed the same direction so I could join up with them. Justin, whom I had just met 36 hours earlier, agreed with Richard and said he wished I was returning with them but accepted my decision and told me to be careful. About that time, two separate groups passed by our camp - one group of 2 and another group of 3. I spoke with both groups, exchanged names, told them that I was continuing on and hoped to kind of hang out with them along the trail over the next few days. That evening I camped near them but didn't want to disturb them due to their 4:00 am planned start time so I didn't see them until next day when they were coming down from the summit and I was headed up. That was near the top of the Gooseneck Glacier, near a feature known as a "bergshrund" located about 900 vertical feet below the summit. At that point, after I said I might see them later on the trail, they said they were going to pack up camp and try to get some extra miles in so they could get out earlier. What that meant was that I truly was on my own from that point on. Despite lightly falling snow and climbing through occasional clouds, I was able to summit, take photos, send out a satellite message showing my location, and make it back to camp by 2:40 pm. Changing out of my boots, I discovered how badly my trusty mountaineering boots had damaged my heels and toes. Apparently my feet didn't fit in them as well as they did last year (see post-hike photo). Feet grew!? New insoles may have been a reason so I took out the new ones and put the old ones back in, but it was too late - the damage was done and even after cleaning the open wounds and taping on sterile non-stick gauze pads, I knew it was going to be a long and painful 3-day (minimum) hike out and despite the bandaging, I was only going to aggravate the existing sores. To make matters worse, I aggravated a tendon in my hip that caused a sharp pain every time I had to lift my right foot more than 8 inches high. That resulted in me having to be even more careful (and even more slow) in making my way out over the next 3 days. Day 4 was Sunday, July 1st and I didn't see another soul from Saturday around noon until mid-morning Monday. I will skip the details of the last three days but I made it out. I appreciate the satellite messages of encouragement I received in reply to my updates. My sister, Jane, a nurse tended to my feet better than I ever could have and my daughter Tori, and her husband Robby gave my feet follow-up treatment and a place to rehab for a couple of days once I got to northern Utah. I could hardly walk or drive (my Jeep has a clutch and stickshift). Now I'm all healed up and while I appreciate what the experience taught me abut myself, I am just relieved to be back home without permanent damage.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Tent Camp

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