Day 7: Bonney Pass & Staging for Gannett

“I only experience real adventure when I don’t know what the outcome will be.” – Reinhold Messner

After a freezing cold morning that left a skin of ice on the snowmelt pools near our tents, we left our camp below Helen Peak and successfully made hauled our 40+-lb packs up 2,000 feet of talus and snow over Dinwoody (Bonney) Pass in good weather. The crossing was steep and exposed and we’re thankful to have safely made it over – a confident crossing when wearing mountaineering boots and crampons. It opened our eyes to the possibilities of traveling safely in alpine environments – technical skills worth practicing and mastering – the fruits of our training climbs back in Bozeman.

At the pass we were treated to our team’s first view of Gannett Peak – now less than three miles distant. In spite of that distance, one has the perception while at 12,800-foot Bonney Pass that you can reach out and touch it – it’s a gargantuan peak, with a view of it limited to those who earn it. In spite of its size and bulk and stature as the Wyoming High Point, Gannett isn’t visible from roads visited by the casual tourist.

After snapping many photos of our Gannett view and crossing the pass, we descended talus rubble to the Dinwoody Glacier and crossed our first glacier of the trip – a pleasant traverse through one of the Northern Rockies’ most scenic alpine bowls – rimmed by Skyline Peak, the Sphinx, Mount Woodrow Wilson, and of course, the complex and jagged massif that turns into Gannett’s southern formation. All of these peaks and ridges rise to elevations greater than 13,000 feet. Traveling on the Dinwoody Glacier down below makes one feel small.

After two miles of glacier travel, we removed our crampons and entered Dinwoody’s seemingly interminable terminal moraine – a jumbled mass of more than a mile of unstable, sharp granite with glacial meltwater running underneath. We will travel that “miserable mile” three more times before this trip ends (twice on a Gannett summit attempt and one more on our exit from this base camp).

We settled into a breezy meadow camp on a tundra bench overlooking the milky Dinwoody Creek, below the Elk Lake cirque. We will stage a summit attempt on Gannett from here.

Today was a big effort for our Crew, and the remainder of the trip promises a bigger one if we are to exit on time. In that context, our summit team has dwindled to seven – the remainder will opt to rest tomorrow and conserve their energy.

We will arise in the middle of the night for an “alpine start” to attempt the Wyoming High Point in just a few hours, in hopes of reaching the summit by noon, 3,000 vertical feet above our base camp.

Godspeed,
RJ

PS: No photo today as we are walled in a steep canyon and sat reception is poor.

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