Route: Wyoming Thirteeners (WY)

Submitted by Eli Boardman on Thu, 08/06/2020 - 12:30pm
Wyoming, US
220 mi
Vertical Gain
82,000 ft

Introduction: Climb all 36 Wyoming peaks above 13,000 feet elevation with at least 300 feet of optimistic prominence. The clock starts when you leave the first trailhead before climbing the first peak and stops when you reach the last trailhead after climbing the final peak. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast.

Overview: The full list of Wyoming 13ers has only been climbed a few times. The reason for this is a combination of long approaches, obscure routes, and much higher technical difficulty than most popular peakbagging lists. Climbers interested in this list should be experienced with wilderness backpacking in grizzly country, glacier travel, moraine travel, steep snow climbing, alpine rock climbing to 5.4, and practically every other aspect of semi-technical alpine travel. The route is open, provided you follow the rules outlined at the end, and reach the summits of all 36 peaks under your own power. Mileage and elevation gain are highly variable by strategy; suffice to say that the Wind River approaches are usually >20 miles one-way. While all of these peaks have been soloed, most climbers will belay at least some of the routes. Consult guidebooks, trip reports, or the stars for direction.

The Peaks: There are 35 "ranked" 13ers in Wyoming, plus one "soft-ranked" 13er, meaning it is unknown whether it has sufficient prominence, but it is usually climbed with the others anyway. 31 of these are in the northern Wind River Range; 1 is in the southern Winds; 1 is in the Tetons; 2 are in the Bighorns; 1 is in the Absarokas. There are two points worth noting: Spearhead Pinnacle has been sight-leveled to be higher than Forked Tongue, and thus only the former must be climbed for this list. Leveling on Twin Peaks has been inconclusive, so BOTH East and West summits must be reached to claim the high point. Thus, the final list of Wyoming 13ers which must be climbed to claim the FKT is the following, listed in order of elevation:

Gannett Peak---13804
Grand Teton---13770
Fremont Peak---13745
Mount Warren---13722
Mount Helen---13620
Turret Peak---13620
Mount Sacagawea---13569
Jackson Peak---13517
Mount Woodrow Wilson---13502
Bastion Peak---13494
Mount Febbas---13468
Sunbeam Peak---13460
Flagstone Peak---13450
Pinnacle Ridge---13365
Downs Mountain---13349
Pedestal Peak---13340
Mount Koven---13265
The Sphinx---13258
Spearhead Pinnacle---13220
American Legion Peak---13205
Bête Noire---13198
Wind River Peak---13192
East AND West Twin Peak---13185 (West Twin not marked on map, oops)
UN Point 13180---13180
Cloud Peak---13167
Desolation Peak---13155
Split Mountain---13155
Francs Peak---13153
Henderson Peak---13115
Klondike Peak---13114
UN Point 13062---13062
Harrower Peak---13052
Bow Mountain---13020
Mount Whitecap---13020
Black Tooth Mountain---13005
Knife Point Mountain---13001

History: The first people to report finishing all 36 thirteeners were Sarah Meiser and Teresa Gergen, who finished together on Black Tooth in 2015 after climbing the list over many years. Matt Lemke became the 3rd reported finisher, climbing his last peak (Bow) in 2020, also undertaking the list over multiple years. Eli Boardman became the first known person to finish the list in a single season (the first dedicated WY 13er FKT), climbing all the peaks in multiple trips during the summer of 2020 (while also taking courses as a full-time college student), including soloing all of the hardest peaks, some with rappels on descent. Eric Gilbertson is currently (August 6, 2020) on track to also finish the list this summer, time/record still pending of course.

Rules: These are the standards established by both Sarah/Teresa on their way to being first to finish the list, and subsequently these are the standards used by Eli to set the first dedicated FKT. Thus, these are the standards expected of future challengers.

1. No cheating, obviously. Touch the highest point of each peak--if you turn around a few feet short, you have to go back. The peaks can be climbed in any order, in 1 or more trips, but the clock never stops and you have to touch all 37 summits (35 ranked + 1 soft-ranked + ambiguity of East/West Twin).

2. You must travel on your own feet above the trailheads (no horse-riding/helicopters/etc.). Most of the trailheads are well-defined, but in general you may drive as far as you want so long as you drive only on legal, established roads (the Phelps Mountain Road route on Francs IS permitted for this FKT). The peaks are remote anyway, so follow the spirit of "no cheating" and you'll be fine.

3. Muscle-powered support is fine (unless trying for "unsupported" of course). Whether that means support by humans, horsepackers, goats, etc., if it's legal, it's allowed so long as you still are hiking all the way under your own power. Bonus points for carrying all your own gear.

4. Climb in good style. Be a good wilderness traveler, don't endanger others, and follow all applicable laws/regulations. Common sense and good ethics apply as always: if it isn't listed here, assume you should err on the side of whatever you would consider "good style." In particular, respect the history and obscure nature of many of these peaks, and don't engage in excessive beta-spew. No one needs a picture of every hold.

Conclusion: Discussing it with another finisher, we agree that the Wyoming 13ers is probably the best elevation-based peakbagging list with <100 summits in the Lower 48. Many of these peaks have been climbed only a few dozen times and have original registers dating to the 1930s. Expect devious routes, fickle conditions, unexpected weather, and overall superb, memorable adventuring in some of the Rockies' wildest ranges. To paraphrase Whymper, climb the WY 13ers if you will, but look well to each step.

GPS Track
13ers.kml10.3 KB


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Trip report with more photos and description of linkups:

Click Here

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To whomever reads this in the future, this is an incredible list, such a worthy FKT endeavor for the skilled mountain traveller - certainly a highlight and a crux of this summer's Rocky Mountain Slam - and while "close" and "second" does not count in the game of FKTs at all [nor does 3rd lol] I am incredibly proud to say that I completed this list at all, let alone in the 3rd fastest known time [11 days, 16 hours, 42 minutes]. 

Thank you to both sub-9 day FKT holders - Eli and Sean - without both of your input - it wouldn't have gone nearly as fast.

Special thanks to Joshua Perry for his indefatigable support across the entire state.

I do wonder who will do this in under 8 days...worth your time if you think it could be you. beautiful experience.