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Sunlit Summit

Harrower Peak

Elevation: 13,054 ft.

Prominence: 918 ft.

Isolation: 1.8 miles

Technical Difficulty: Class 4

Harrower Peak Guidebook


This fine summit is officially named Harrower Peak, but climbers have long called it Ellingwood Peak in association with the famous climber who made its probable first ascent. The family of the late Harrower, disappointed at climbers’ refusal to honor the official name, placed a memo in the summit register explaining that Harrower was an early backcountry ranger and mayor of Pinedale who contributed to early conservation of the Wind River Range. In the author’s opinion, plenty of things are named after Ellingwood already. Harrower Peak is a beautiful peak, especially when reflecting in one of the shallow, blue-green lakes of Indian Basin, and it is a favorite target of climbers.

General Considerations

The dramatic north face is Harrower’s most distinguishing feature, but the peak is much easier to climb from the south side. Due to its relative proximity to Island Lake, this peak is both more accessible and more crowded than other summits in the region. It is also the closest 13er to the Elkhart Park Trailhead, but with a one-way distance of more than 14 miles, most people will still want to climb Harrower as part of a multi-day trip.

Route 1: Southwest Ridge – Class 4

This is a strange “ridge” route, since very little time is actually spent on the ridge crest. The approach is convoluted, and once near the summit, it is generally easier to traverse somewhat below the ridge instead of following it directly. Regardless, the route does generally climb the peak from the southwest aspect, and climbers have long known it as the southwest ridge.

From the Indian Pass Trail at the south end of Island Lake, a trail branches off to the south, climbing past picturesque waterfalls to reach treeline in a gentle grassy valley leading to the off-trail pass between Island Lake and Wall Lake. From any convenient point in this valley before reaching the crest of the pass, start hiking north up a mix of grass, talus, and scree slopes.

Aim for the col between Harrower and Faler Tower (Point 12607 on maps). From this lofty pass around 12,200 ft., continue up 500 ft. scree towards Harrower’s summit ridge. Before reaching the crest of the ridge, traverse climber’s right on a mix of broken terrain and large, slabby ledges. When short vertical steps block easy progress, climb up closer to the ridge and traverse exposed ledges under and around overhanging alcoves. The route gains the ridge crest briefly to avoid especially steep sections on the lower face, ultimately reaching the summit from the east side. The specifics of the route are left as an exercise to the reader, since the terrain is so broken that a more detailed description is neither necessary nor possible.

Route 2: Eastern Cirque – Class 4

This route is convenient for those desiring to combine Harrower and Knife Point in one day, but neither this route nor the second half of the traverse back up Knife Point is particularly enjoyable. From the remote cirque at the head of Pole Creek, far above Wall Lake, a plethora of rock slabs, small snowfields, and loose scree fields provide many options for a route up Harrower from the east. One option follows gullies and waterfall-covered slabs to gain the col between Harrower Peak and Faler Tower (Point 12607). Another option traverses several rock steps and a hanging talus field across the upper face below Harrower’s eastern cliffs. Either way, the goal is to join Route 1 before the beginning of the final ridge.

Route 3: North Arete – Class 5.6

One of the most classic rock routes in an area known for classic rock routes, the north arete is a many-pitch trad climb up Harrower’s most distinguishing feature, cutting a profile which can be seen from many vantage points around Indian Basin. Climbers report beginning on easier terrain left of the arete, then following the narrow crest to top. It reportedly involves highly varied climbing including cracks, slabs, and overhangs. Although the route has been soloed, it is usually climbed in 9-13 belayed pitches. The climb ends at the summit, and climbers usually descend Route 1. Consult rock climbing guidebooks and trip reports for further details.

Harrower Peak Map

Click title to show track
Southwest Slopes Route
East Cirque Route
North Arete Route

Harrower Peak Panorama

Harrower Peak Photos

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