Hemingway and ‘Pilot and Index’

Just got back from a great Spring Break, now ready to get back to work on the book and trying to generate a little interest in the tours we’re offering this summer. (Google Hemingway’s Yellowstone)
Now, anyone familiar with the NE corner of Yellowstone and the Cooke City area will be familiar with Pilot peak or ‘Pilot and Index’. For those of you not familiar, Pilot Peak is Matterhorn shaped Mountain that lies on the Wyoming/ Montana border. It dominates the landscape and is the enduring image that represents this part of the world. For anyone who has spent significant time in Cooke City it is probably their favorite mountain.


Well it turns out, Pilot Peak was one of Hemingway’s favorite mountains as well. In his final published story, which is set in 2 bars, he names the bars ‘The Pilot’ and ‘The Index’. While he was an avid hunter, he managed to shoot a Bighorn Sheep only once. This hunt took place on the the slopes of Pilot and Index. Hemingway also hunted elk and black bear way up Pilot Creek. In a 1939 article for Vogue he remembers¬†the great mountains this way:

Up the river were the two peaks of Pilot and Index, where we would hunt mountain-sheep later in the month, and you sat in the sun and marvelled at the formal, clean lined shape mountains can have at a distance, so that you remember them in the shapes they show from far away, and not as broken rockslides you crossed, the jagged edges you pulled up by, and the narrow shelves you sweated along, afraid to look down, round that peak that looked so smooth and geometrical.”


Hemingway returned to these slopes in 1932 to try to duplicate his 1930 sheep hunt with friend Charles Thompson. They hunted for nine days with no luck. In a letter to Henry Strater, Hemingway describes the hunt as hell, and tells how he had to take his shoes off at one point, and ended up falling nine times anyway. Pauline Hemingway who accompanied them much of the way had her Stetson blown off her head and into the Clark’s Fork Valley. ¬†After this hunt Hemingway would return Pilot Creek with Huck Mees, a local legend and shoot a massive black bear.EH5593P_lowres


Huck Mees was one of the many men Hemingway hunted with during his five visits to Yellowstone High Country. To get an idea of how bad ass these guys were check out this Link:

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