Saturday, August 20, 2011

Static Peak Divide

I originally had good intentions for Saturday, but after spending most of Friday evening/night on YouTube videos it was way too late by the time I got to bed and I hadn't called anybody to make some plans. So after sleeping in a bit late, I decided to get some elevation by going up to Static Peak in the Tetons. I had never been there, it was supposed to be easy enough for me, and the trail was reported mostly snow-free. I started hiking from the White Grass trailhead a little bit before 11am; nothing like an alpine start!

There were lots of hikers on the Death Canyon trail. Several people mentioned seeing a bear cub near the junction of the Death Canyon and Valley trails, but I didn't see one.The trail to Static Peak Divide hangs a right at the Death Canyon patrol cabin; I had not been on this stretch of trail before. The patrol cabin is at 7850' or so; it is 4 miles and some 3000' vertical from the patrol cabin up to Static Peak Divide. From the patrol cabin on up, I saw 12 other people on the trail, all headed down while I was still going uphill. Here is a view of Static Peak from the 10,200' divide just north of Albright Peak. In the full-resolution version of the photo, two people are visible on the summit.

From this point going up, there were four places where the trail was still snow-covered. Two of them were easily bypassed, and the other two were snow-filled couloirs that could not be avoided. Although there were footprints cut into the couloir traverses, the consequences of a slip would have been huge; I was very glad to have my ice axe along. Here is the view to the northeast, looking down into Stewart Draw.

I reached Static Peak Divide (10,790') about three hours and forty-five minutes after leaving the trailhead. The views are of course very nice, looking to the west-southwest...

and looking to the west-northwest at Buck Mountain. There were climbers visible on the summit of Buck.
The weather was warm, probably 70 degrees and light winds. From the divide, it is only another 500' of easy terrain in perhaps 0.5 miles on the ridge up to the summit of Static Peak. Unfortunately, there were clouds building up to the south and it wasn't clear that I had another 45 minutes before the weather might deteriorate. So, I declared victory at the divide, ate my sandwich, and started on my way back down. An hour after leaving the divide, the clouds had filled the sky and thunder was rumbling; glad I wasn't up on Static Peak racing that weather!

I didn't see any bears on the way back down either. It rained briefly, just hard enough for me to put on my rain shell and pack cover, but not hard enough to get the ground completely wet. The skies cleared again, and I finished the hike under mostly sunny skies. 3:45 on the way up, 3:15 on the way down, a total of about 4400' vertical including the up-and-back-down over Phelps Lake Overlook. 

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