Medicine Bow Peak

Elevation: 12,013
Location: Snowy Range, Wyoming

Medicine Bow Peak from trailhead by Lewis Lake Medicine Bow Peak is a high and easily accessed peak in southeastern Wyoming. It is only a few hours climb from a variety of routes. Allen and I climbed the peak in July of 2000 as a tune up for our climb of Colorado's Mount Massive.

We opted to take the shortest and quickest route to the peak from Lewis Lake. We had stayed in Rawlins, Wyoming (surely one of the dustiest, windiest places on earth) the night before. We left early and drove for an hour to the trailhead. A few pullouts offer scenic views of the high, snowy peak. Snow blocked the road partway, so we had to walk an extra .6 miles to get to the trail. Once on the trail it was an easy climb to a saddle at a little over 11,000 feet between Medicine Bow Peak and a 11,300 foot sub peak (called Sugarloaf on some maps).

Looking south from summit towards Colorado From the saddle the trail steepens and switches back and forth up to about 11,800 feet where we encountered a steep snowfield. We crossed it carefully as the drop led a few hundred feet to sharp rocks below, and a woman slipped here coming up while we were coming down. We learned afterwards that we could have avoided it by scrambling up some rocks to the right and attaining the summit ridge. Regardless, once past the snow it was a breeze to the summit on a large snowfield. The view was excellent back down to the numerous lakes below the rugged north face cliffs of Medicine Bow Peak. To the south we could see the snow-capped peaks of Colorado. A marmot made for a good summit entertainment.

The trip down was quick, and the roundtrip time couldn't have been more than about three hours. The total climb was 4.8 miles gaining about 1,400 feet. If the road is clear it is more like 3.2 miles roundtrip. It is an excellent way to climb a high, rugged peak without spending too much energy or time.