Wind River High Route Day 4 – Europe Col to Lake Louise: clear, calm, warm, and buggy. Day 4 turned out the be the technical crux of the trip with some spicy scrambling and climbing up to the knife edge ridge on Europe Peak.
The climb up to Europe Col goes up through tundra and big granite slabs. Very nice hiking with lots of flowers. There was water available most of the way up to Europe Col.
Once on the Col, we tried to see a route up Europe Peak. It looked like there was a weakness off to the right of the main peak, but as we got up higher, the weakness on the right was not possible without difficult climbing.
Instead of going up and right, we went up and stayed left until we reached cliffs and then stayed just right of those cliffs.
We kept this up until we were near the knife edge ridge. We saw a small dihedral that looked like it had quite a bit of traffic and we climbed up that. It required climbing up a steep corner for about 15 feet using both hands and feet on big holds. I had heard from other blogs that the climb up to Europe Peak was 3rd class, but the route we took was low 5th class.
The steep corner brings to you a knife-edged ridge. We traversed along the ridge to reach the massive, low angle shoulder of Europe Peak. There we took a shoes-off break and basked in the calm, warm air at 12000′.
Note: It was only at 11,000-12,000′ that we were bug free.
It’s approximately 4 miles from Europe Peak to Hayes Pass. Four miles doesn’t sound like a long way, but when you walk in such expansive terrain, it seems like you’re not really getting anywhere. There was no trail, but the route finding was pretty obvious: stay on the divide until it descends to Haye pass. And avoid the talus fields whenever possible.
Had we known the weather was going to be so clear, calm, and warm, we could have kept going on day 3 and camped up on the divide. There were many small streams and water sources, and they were often surrounded by soft green plants and grasses. It would be a lovely, lonely place to camp, about as far from civilization as you can get in the Winds.
Instead, we continued on to Lake Louise. Even at 6pm, we had to find a shaded area to camp because of the heat. We had a very hard day, and I think we had reached the mid-trip blues. Our bodies weren’t used to all the strenuous hiking, and by the time they got used to it, we would be done. Should have planned a rest day or two.