Day 5: Europe Peak and Hay Pass

Wednesday 7/26/2017, 12.9mi/20.8km

Tarn before Europe Peak (48.4/10,550ft) – Hay Pass Trail jct (55.8/10,850ft)(WY) + 5.5mi Hay Pass resupply (WY)

I woke up at 6am, and there’s not a cloud in the sky! We ate our usual breakfast, packed up our wet tents (from condensation), and hit the trail at 6:45am.

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Getting out of camp was…tricky. We made a few turns to correct our direction, and finally we were heading uphill and on route.

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The climb to the top of the ridge was almost entirely rock/grass, and we cramponed the last 100ft up a snowfield to the top. After a break, we rock-hopped and grass-walked across the dry ridge to the saddle below Europe Peak. The ridge was a huge alpine meadow, with lots of these little flowers.

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The ridge looked impossibly steep. But, off we went! The initial climb was fast and easy, and we gained the knife edge quickly. There was also a “class 3” move at the top, but it wasn’t exposed and had plenty of big handholds and footholds. Halfway up the knife edge:

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Looking up the knife edge, at Europe Peak:

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We walked a few hundred more yards, dropped our packs, and walked up the last 200ft to the summit. It was nice and warm on Europe Peak.

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Quickham is thinking about baptizing a baby lion.

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Europe Peak is 12,259 ft (3737m) high, with some spectacular views.

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After 15 minutes, we returned to our packs and our scattered stuff, which was still drying out. We packed up at 11:30am, and began the walk down, and across the divide. It was nice and flat and wide, and easy walking.

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We cruised along the divide, stopping for lunch as we joined a river.

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As soon as lunch was over, it started lightly raining. We descended down to 10,600ft, almost to a lake. Then we cut across a creek, and climbed the short 300ft up to Hay Pass.

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There was a trail from the top of Hay pass all the way down to a pond at 10,000ft, where we were meeting our resupply horse. It’s 5.5 miles out of the way, but we needed our food and climbing gear! It kept threatening to rain, so we kept our breaks short, and apparently I only remembered to take photos during our breaks. Flowers!

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We arrived to camp at 4pm. Another group was already camped there, and they were super friendly. Harvey talked to us for an hour about his 40-year canyoneering career. The other five people in his group were less extroverted, but all very friendly. The horsepacker showed up at 5:30pm with our food, and we began to unpack and organize. We setup our tents, and joined the group for dinner. It was a fun night, being with a larger group of people. We passed around a bottle of whiskey and swapped stories about type-2 fun. After the group dispersed, we chatted with the horsepacker about his adventures in the Winds, including ice skating on Lonesome Lake in November! We cleaned up, filled up our water, and got to bed by 9:30pm.

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