Jan 22, 2011

The assault on Bomber Mountain - 1, introduction

The summer of 2006, I took an iron-butt trip 1,000 miles west with Slippery Fish and Sherpa for a hike through the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming.  Our adventure will be regurgitated here one chapter per week until I've spilled out all 20,000 words. 

Join me on a quiet mountain escape from the dullness of this Midwest January chill.  Let's go!

Love at first sight

Back in the fall of 2005, friend Slippery Fish concocted a scheme to tackle the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming.  He excitedly recounted his visit to this range with his family as a boy.  He grew up backpacking, and his clan made several trips to the Big Horns, hiking from West Tensleep Lake up to Lake Helen and Mistymoon Lake.  Another year they circled Seven Brothers Lake and Lake Solitude, but never attempted to summit a mountain or climb higher than 10,000 feet. 

On his third trip west to the Big Horns with his dad and brother, they planned to conquer Bomber Mountain.  It launches over 13,000 feet, the next highest point on Earth to the east is atop the Swiss Alps.  Unfortunately, shortly into his vacation, his brother coughed up a nasty batch of bronchitis and they were forced to abort the trip.  

For 30 years, a desire has festered within Fish to return and bust the chops of Bomber Mountain.  So he put the gears into motion for an adventure to retrace his boyhood steps, to set out to do what he had long dreamed about:  to stand atop Bomber, two and a half miles above sea level.

“Can I go with you?” I begged.  

“Nope,” he quipped, “four is the max, and I’ve already put together a crew."

“Okay, maybe next time,” I said with a slump. 

A couple months later, Fish asked "Beard, you wanna tackle the Big Horns with us?”  I thought he was joking, but he confirmed someone abandoned ship which opened a slot.  I thought about it for three seconds, smiled and said "of course!" 

Fish, Sherpa and I planned the trip over several months while munching on quesadillas at our favorite lunch joint.  We finally firmed up the details, purchased our equipment and mapped out our itinerary: 
  • Day 1 Sunday - Depart from trail head, 9000 feet. Camp at Lake Helen at 10,000 feet. Trees stop growing, replaced with barrenness at 10,300 feet.
  • Day 2 Monday - Weather permitting, ascend Bomber Mountain.  Summit and start the return hike back to camp by 1:30 pm for the best light, weather and safety.
  • Day 3 Tuesday - Lazy day, camp, fish, R&R.  Consider moving camp if we find a better location.
  • Day 4 Wednesday - Climb Cloud Peak, return to camp.
  • Day 5 Thursday - Rest and relax, fish, extra day in case we encounter poor weather earlier in the week.
  • Day 6 Friday - Hike out.  Drive to Devils Tower.  Friday night slumber party at Devils Tower or in Spearfish, South Dakota.
  • Day 7 Saturday - Return home.
Enough background, time to hike!

Big Horn Mountains are located in north central Wyoming

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1 comment:

Thanks for the note, check back for my response!