Peaks Climbed: Mitchell Peak, Dog Tooth Peak & Big Sandy Mountain

Peak Heights: 12,482' / 12,488' / 12,416'

Route: NE Slopes & Connecting Ridges

Difficulty: Class 3

Location: Wind River Range, Wyoming

Trailhead: Big Sandy Opening

Mileage & Gain: 6.5 mi & 4,400 ft

Date Climbed: August 26, 2018

This trio of peaks above Big Sandy Lake was on my secondary "if I had time" list for the trip. I figured they'd be a reasonable goal from a camp near Big Sandy Lake on my way out if I felt like it, but hadn't given them much thought. They didn't look very interesting on the map, but once again I was deceived and this was far from the truth.

While perusing the copies I'd brought of the relevant pages of Kelsey's book, I noticed he lists nontechnical routes up Mitchell's and Dog Tooth's steep north slopes from Lizard Head Meadows. I was skeptical I'd find easy grassy slopes given the steepness of the topo lines, but decided this would be a more interesting way to attempt these peaks.

The bushwhack to treeline above Lizard Head Meadows wasn't very pleasant and took me through thick, scrubby pines. The northeast slopes of Mitchell were a steep grind. These may have been the steepest grassy slopes I've ever hiked. My knees were going to hate the descent. The final bit to the summit looked steep and hard. I pieced together a route at 4th or low 5th class, even taking my gloves off at one point to pull some harder moves. Kelsey rates the route second class so I looked further north for a better descent option, but found myself backing off two different downclimbs. I finally made something work, but to keep this second class I'm pretty sure I would have had to traverse further north and far out of my way.

After that completely unexpected excitement I traversed to Dog Tooth, Big Sandy, and then back to Dog Tooth with much boulder hopping. The descent down the north side of Dog Tooth was lightly cairned up high, which was reassuring. There is a small glacier or permanent snowfield that likely cannot be avoided earlier in the season. The slopes below were steep, maybe even steeper than the slopes I climbed up Mitchell. I found a better way through the trees on the way back to camp.

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