On the leading edge of the last bomb cyclone storm cycle that hit the Rockies and Midwest this spring (April 2019), I was hoping to get in a quick 24-hour trip up in the high country of Wyoming’s Snowy Range.

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Apparently, the pressure bars compressed a little bit more than what was predicted, and I faced some breezy conditions that were a little more than what my ultralight shelter system could handle, so I retreated in the middle of the night.

Enjoy the video:

YouTube video

Summary Notes


  • My route followed snowmobile trails across summer roads for a couple of hours, and then up into the untracked backcountry via spruce forest, subalpine fir, traversing high benches in cliffy terrain, and finally into a glacial cirque at 10,800 feet. I arrived in camp a little more than an hour before sunset.
  • My route back down to the trailhead was a little different. Since I was navigating in a blizzard in the dark, I opted for a longer but safer route through less steep terrain, intersected a summer road bed, and then used a summer road network to weave my way back to my original approach route.


  • Temperatures ranged from about 23 F to 41 F during the trip, with wind chills near 0 F.
  • Winds increased from 10-15 mph (gusting to 20+ mph) at the beginning of the trip to 40-50 mph (gusting to 65+ mph) by the time I decided to bail.
  • Skies were partly cloudy, with periods of bright sunshine, on the hike in. During the night, I couldn’t see any stars, and the weather devolved into whiteout conditions. I assumed it was a result of a snowstorm, but after reviewing satellite image history upon my return, the night skies were actually totally clear. The source of the whiteout was 100% a result of windblown snow – a ground blizzard.

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  • I recorded weather data (temp, humidity, etc.) using two Kestrel Drop D3FW devices (one inside the tent, one outside – although from watching the video you’ll see that the conditions weren’t so different between the two!).
  • I recorded wind speeds using a Kestrel 5500 mounted on a rotating weather vane that was affixed to the top of a 24 in (60 cm) tall sapling stump with an Ultrapod Mini.
  • I was able to monitor weather data from all devices from inside the tent, using Kestrel apps and a Bluetooth connection to my smartphone.

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Gear Notes:

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Lessons Learned:

  • I mostly felt pretty calm during the whole experience. I suppose I attribute that to having experienced these conditions before, having gear (except for the shelter system) that was matched to the conditions, and knowing that even if I retreated in the middle of the night in a storm, I could simply go slow, make decisions carefully, and I’d get out safely.
  • I’m very appreciative for a high enough level of fitness that provides me with a lot of reserves to manage adversity when needed, without facing the anxiety that comes with being too fatigued or sore to have bailout options.
  • Stormy conditions can manifest themselves at high elevations long before a weather reporter down in town starts to experience them.

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