Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Climbing Albright and Static Peak, Teton Range, Wyoming


Both Albright and Static Peaks are class 2 climbs in the Tetons. The hike features dramatic views of Buck Mountain, Prospector Mountain, Death Canyon, and the Death Canyon Shelf. Distant views of Fossil Mountain, Mount Bannon, Mount Jedediah Smith, and Battleship Mountain can be seen.

Looking Down From the Summit of Static Peak
Timberline Lake at the Base of Buck Mountain
I Drove over to the Death Canyon Trailhead near the White Grass Ranger Station in Grand Teton National Park Saturday evening. Was on the trail going to Death Canyon at about 7:30 the next morning. The trail is well trod and leads initially to Phelps Lake. You lose about 550 feet of elevation as you drop down to the lake and the canyon entrance. Not a big deal, but remember those 550 feet of climbing on the return trip!

The hike takes you into the steep dramatic granite walls of Death Canyon. I read the canyon gets its name from the fact that a member of the 1876 Hayden Expedition, sent to explore the area, went into the canyon and was never seen again. Can't confirm the fact, but it adds a little mystique to the location.

Much of the trail follows the creek cascading down the narrow canyon. Eventually, coming to the Forks, the trail heading to the Static Peak Divide and then to Alaska Basin veers off to the north. This section is easily identified by the location of an historic cabin. Soon the trail traverses up the northwest slopes of Albright Peak. The back and forth traversing certainly increases the distance traveled but makes the ascent an easy walk.

On the lower slopes of Albright, I ran into a moose family on the trail. The bull wanted nothing to do with me and took off as soon as I came into sight. However the cow and calf were curious enough to stick around. They both just stared at me. I yelled loudly and waved my arms to motivate them off the trail. They were content to just watch the show and eat. I certainly was not a threat and they stayed put. Finally, not wishing to get any closer and wanting to continue on, I decided to climb up and around them on the mountain side. It was only after I was well above them on the slope did they decide to mosey on down in the direction the bull had disappeared.

Cow and Calf on the Trail on the Western Slopes of Albright Peak
Coming out above the saddle on the north ridge of Albright, the trail begins a series of short switch backs up to Static Peak Divide. I bypassed Albright and continued on this trail to the divide.

Switch Backs up to Static Peak Divide
Buck Mountain Behind the Divide
Nearing the End of the Switch Backs, Static Peak Comes into View

Reaching the divide, one can continue over the ridge to the northwest to Alaska Basin or head northeast up the ridge to the summit of Static Peak. The climb to the peak from this point is an easy jaunt.

Buck Mountain From Static Peak 
Albright Peak From Static Peak
East Ridge of Buck Mountain
Prospector Mountain and Rimrock Lake
On the way down, I stopped at Static Peak Divide for a selfie

After descending the switch backs, I dropped to the saddle below the north ridge on Albright. and climbed the face just west of the northwest ridge. I was really lucky this day. The snow on the mountain was about four inches deep and solid enough to hold a step. This made the steep slope very manageable. Near the top, I initially climbed a light class 3 ridge to what I thought was the peak and found myself on the northern false summit. I descended a bit and walked around and up the southern peak.

Summit of Albright Peak
Phelps Lake Below
Static Peak From Albright Peak
Northern False Summit of Albright in Foreground

Fossil Mountain, Mount Bannon, Mount Jedediah Smith
Death Canyon Shelf in Background
The West Face of Buck Mountain and the Trail into Alaska Basin
Battleship Mountain is Just Left of Buck

Although the climbing is class 2, the distance traveled and the elevation gained make this a pretty good workout. The round trip is 15 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,412 feet.

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