Into the Winds: East Temple W7Y/SL-012 & Big Sandy Mountain, W7Y/FT-041

I first visited the Wind River Mountain range, Wyoming, in 1978 to climb Pingora, in the Cirque of the Towers area. The Wind River Mountain range is a beautiful range and has about 2000 alpine lakes. I did several more climbing trips to the Winds in the early 80s, and then stopped going. In 2014, I returned to the Winds to go on a backpacking trip. I had just discovered ultra-light backpacking gear and was experimenting with lightweight packs, stoves tents, sleeping bags and pads.

This year, my second SOTA summer, I decided to go back to the Winds and combine backpacking and SOTA. With my lightweight backpacking kit, my base weight is around 11 Lbs without food, fuel, or water. I can usually go 4-5 days with a 20 Lb pack, but the radio gear put me at 24 Lbs.

That’s about 4 Lbs heavier than I like, but we decided to hike into Big Sandy Lake (6 miles) and set up a basecamp there. Since I only had to carry that weight for 1 day / 6 miles, I was OK with that.

Also, because there is very little cell coverage in the Winds, I created an alert for the two peaks I wanted to do.

The Winds were unusually green this year. They had been getting daily rain for almost a month. As a result, all the grasses were still very green, and there were many flowers still blooming. And there was no wild fire smoke.

The first peak I activated was East Temple W7Y/SL-012, 10 points. East Temple has never been activated, but neither have most of the peaks in the Winds. It was a 9 mile round trip hike with about 3000’ of elevation. Seven miles of the hike were on a trail leading to an unnamed pass between East Temple and Temple peaks. East Temple, like many peaks in the Winds, consists of nice soft tundra and large, solid talus blocks. Some talus blocks are as big as train cars. As a result, climbing these peaks is pleasant and interesting. The activation went well. There was plenty of room to set up an end fed antenna, and I had 29 QSOs on CW.

East Temple on the Left, Temple on the Right

Temple Lake and Cirque of the Towers to the North

Typical Winds Talus and Tundra Combination

Temple Peak from the Summit of East Temple

Glad I started Early. The Storms Came In

The second peak I activated was Big Sandy Mountain, W7Y/FT-041, 10 points. I see now that with a little better planning, I could have gotten three 10 pointers in one day: Mitchell, Dog Tooth, and Big Sandy.

I took a direct line up Big Sandy from our campsite. This involved about 500’ of bushwhacking through blowdown timber. But after that, it was very nice hiking up grassy meadows to the tundra and then to the giant talus. I tried to stick to the grass and tundra when I could, but I still had to scramble through a lot of talus. There was no sign of a trail on my route, but other than the bushwhacking, it was a nice route.

Big Sandy Mountain

The Trail Up looking North at Warrior Peaks

Out of the Bushwhacking and Into Grass and Tundra

There Was Running Water Almost to the Summit

Summit of Big Sandy looking North at Dog Tooth and Mitchell

The summit ridge involved scrambling on massive granite blocks and navigating around gendarmes on the ridge. In most cases, I went around the gendarmes on the east side. The activation was successful and I had 21 QSOs on CW.

Now I need to figure out how to shave off 4 lbs.