Monday, July 20, 2015

Winter Tour, Bozeman, Montana, to Jackson, Wyoming

Hiker: Conrad Anker, mountaineer and explorer

Executive summary by darmansjah

My dream hike would actually be to ski from Bozeman to Jackson in early spring. I have long wanted to view the Yellowstone area from the comfort of skis and a sled. A traverse of the Yellowstone hot spot would be neat from a geological standpoint. —Conrad Anker

Length: Roughly 216 miles

The Details: Anker’s life-list trip takes in one of the wildest cores of public land in the continental United States, crossing Gallatin National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. At the heart of the trip lies the Yellowstone hot spot, the massive supervolcano that’s the source of the park’s geothermal wonders and which has been exhibiting increasing activity over the past decade. The park is also the home to the continent's most charismatic megafauna—grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and wolverines—alongside herds of elk and mule deer.

It would take the type of expedition logistics that Anker has mastered over his career to pull it off, however. The route itself is not determined. Careful planning and calorie-and-nutrition counting would be a must. Snow conditions could range from deadly slab avalanches to grueling spring glop, depending on the finicky weather moods of the Northern Rockies. An easier but longer option would be to parallel U.S. 191 and then travel along the closed roads in Yellowstone. A more daring option would be to head into the high country behind Bozeman and make a direct traverse across the park.

Of course, it does not need to be a ski trip, although not needing a trail allows for more creative routes (and the opportunity for corn or powder snow turns). Existing trails, overland travel, bushwhacking, and scrambling could bring an intrepid summer hiker along the same journey. Permits are required to backcountry camp and travel in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

When to Go: Spring, when the avalanche conditions have stabilized and temperatures start to warm up

About Anker: Conrad Anker has reached that rare status of celebrity mountaineer. Since the 1980s, he has accumulated a list of daring ascents on every continent, spanning the gamut from big-wall rock climbs on Yosemite’s El Capitan to an expedition on Antarctica’s Rakekniven Peak, featured on the cover of National Geographic in a story by Jon Krakauer. In 1999, Anker touched history when he found the body of legendary mountaineer George Mallory, who had been missing since 1924, on Everest.

According to the North Face-sponsored climber and consultant, his crowning achievement came in 2011, when he, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk became the first to summit the difficult Shark’s Fin of 20,700-foot Meru in India’s Gharwal Himalaya. The climb had foiled Anker twice before and required a full palette of rock, ice, and alpine skills to pull off. Beyond that hard-core resume, Anker simply enjoys spending what time he can at his home in Bozeman, Montana, getting out in the Rockies with his wife and sons.

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