Avalanche Peak - Yellowstone NP

Date of trip: 10/08/2018

Mileage: 4.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 2120 Feet

Time: 3 Hour(s) and 27 Minutes

Class: 2

Partners: Carrie

GPS Track: View Here

Peaks Climbed on Trip:
Peak Name Elevation Prominence Range Close to County highpoint Range highpoint Map
Avalanche Peak105681028AbsarokaLake, WyomingNoNo44.4896, -110.1399

Trip Report

We were in Yellowstone for our 25 wedding anniversary. I convinced my wife to do one hike and we would spend the rest of the 3 days watching wildlife, viewing the famous Yellowstone scenery, and checking out the thermal attractions.

For the hike, I chose Avalanche Peak, which sits on the eastern side of Yellowstone Lake and above Highway 20. With over 1000 feet of prominence, I had heard nothing but rave reviews about the views from this summit.

We aren't early risers, so we didn't get to the trailhead until around 10am. What we saw was a bit disconcerting. The temperature was around 20 degrees, which wasn't a huge deal, but the clouds were racing above us. The wind was gusting quite hard even at 8400'. I briefly considered bagging the attempt and going dumpster diving (tagging more accessible, easier peaks).

As we pondered, a car arrived. The guy was smoking a cigarette and wearing Adidas sweat pants. I walked over and asked him if he was heading up, he replied in a thick European accent with something like "The wind will be a problem, but the views worth it, no?".

Another vehicle showed up with a tiny, older lady in it. She got out, threw on her pack and started heading up the peak. Hmmm... maybe I am over thinking this!?

So we finished our preparations and were soon heading up the trail through the forest. The wind was minimal in the trees, but the footing was dangerous, with a lot of ice on the packed trail that had obviously melted the day before and then froze that night.

Around 500' feet into the hike, the nice lady from the trailhead passed us heading down, complaining the trail was too slick for her. We continued up the trail until around 9600', where we stopped for a break just below the treeline in the large bowl between Hoyt Peak and Avalanche Peak. We hydrated, ate, and got our cold weather gear on. I warned Carrie that we were in for a tough next hour in the wind... then off we went.

The wind was pretty bad, but the skies were clear. The snow was drifting, almost covering the tracks left by "Adidas" ahead of us. Luckily, the trail changed direction enough that we would get on a slope out of the wind from time-to-time and be able to relax. However, once above 10,400 feet, we were on a ridge and at the mercy of the wind the rest of the way.

Carrie led this section, breaking trail, while I took photos and followed. After a few false summits, we arrived at the true summit and used an existing wind break to grab a quick drink and take in the views.

The views were astounding! The Teton range to our southwest, with Grand Teton and Mount Moran clearly visible. To the west was Yellowstone Lake and the vast Yellowstone Plateau. To our immediate east were the impressive Absarokas. To the north were hundreds of rugged peaks stretching to the skyline.

Somehow we survived the hike out with only moderate slip on the icy trail. We then returned to West Yellowstone, with stops to watch a grizzly bear, look at hundreds of buffalo, checkout the Mud Volcano area, and visit various observation points of Yellowstone Falls and Canyon.

WHAT A DAY!


Getting There

The trailhead is located just west of Eleanor Lake on US 20. The parking lot is on the south side of the highway. Park here and cross the highway to the signed start of the trail up Avalanche Peak.


Hiking Directions

We simply followed the Avalanche Peak trail from Highway 20. The trail is well blazed and even easy to follow covered by a few inches of snow. See the GPS tracks for exacts.


Photos

View Slideshow

Yellowstone River
Yellowstone River
Yellowstone Lake
Yellowstone Lake
Avalanche Peak from Highway 20
Avalanche Peak from Highway 20
Carrie on the Avalanche Peak trail
Carrie on the Avalanche Peak trail
Avalanche Peak
Avalanche Peak
Following the snow-covered trail on Avalanche Peak
Following the snow-covered trail on Avalanche Peak
Carrie nearing the summit of Avalanche Peak
Carrie nearing the summit of Avalanche Peak
Tetons and Yellowstone Lake
Tetons and Yellowstone Lake
Carrie starting the descent
Carrie starting the descent
Absaroka Range
Absaroka Range
Descending... that is Hoyt Peak above
Descending... that is Hoyt Peak above
Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake
Avalanche Peak from Yellowstone's Mud Volcano area
Avalanche Peak from Yellowstone's Mud Volcano area
Yellowstone Traffic Jam on the way back to our cabin
Yellowstone Traffic Jam on the way back to our cabin




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