[Granite Peak] [Yellowstone]
06/30/2007 - 07/02/2007
After Devil's Tower we took the back way to the West Rosebud trailhead up
and over Beartooth Pass and
through the cool
little town of Red Lodge, MT. Wayne and I started later then the rest of the
group and met them at the first nights camp just over 3miles and 1200ft in at
Mystic Lake. It was an easy hike along the river and we met everyone and traded
some stories before bed. It was great to meet some new folks and catch up with
some old friends.
The following morning we packed up and headed up the Phantom Creek trail along
the 26 "switchbacks from hell".
They weren't that bad, but maybe we're all used to switchbacks from hiking in
Colorado?! Up at the divide after 2600ft we left the trail and started following
cairns across "Froze to Death Plateau". We had to cross a few
lingering snowfields as we gained altitude and made our way across the ankle-bustin'
boulders, loose rock, and occasional swamp. The views all around were beautiful
and similar to Colorado.
After 5.5hrs we got to about 11,600ft and set up camp behind some existing rock
walls and flat spots, so far we were all glad that we left our snowshoes in the
cars. It was a bit windy and we spent the afternoon setting up camp, filtering
water from snow run-off, then took a quick hike and recon mission up Tempest Mtn.
From Tempest Mtn we could spot out some of the route up Granite's East Ridge and
what we were in for the following day. I was really starting to have my doubts
and wondered if I was in
over my head! The night was windy but warm, Gary and Lynn's Mega-Mid tent
flapped the night away on the brink of flying away several times.
5am came too soon and we headed across the tundra and snowfields with a great
sunrise at our backs. Before an hour we were at the saddle below Tempest Mtn and
heading across talus and scree towards Bivouac Saddle. Now the fun begins! Snow
covered the easier trail so we had to climb directly up the class 3 East Ridge.
We pretty much stayed on the top of the ridge bouncing back and forth to either
side depending on the path of least resistance with Wayne and Rich route
finding. Once again, I was seriously wondering if I got in over my head. After a
couple hours we were staring at the famous snow bridge and class 4 chimney
immediately after. Crampons and ice axes came out and we all made it across the
snow bridge without incident. Rock chimneys lead to gulleys, which lead to snow
fields which lead to the next rock
chimneys one right after the other. Rich and Wayne did great route finding
comparing pictures to the rock ahead of us. With the hardest rock face still
ahead of us, we weighed our options and headed up. It felt closer to fifth class
to me and the exposure below was considerable! Definitely a "no fall
zone". Luckily the rock was solid and the holds were plentiful.... most of
Some elusive ledges had us poking around trying to find the path of least
resistance and after some time we reached the final chimney to the Keyhole.
Aaaahhh, the summit was in view! Just a couple hundred more feet of class 3
scrambling and we were on top of Montana at 12,799ft after 5hrs!!! Clear skies
treated us to views of the Beartooth mtns, Yellowstone, and the Tetons. I was
quite happy to get there knowing I was kinda
pushing my comfort zone, but still nervous about the down climb.
After 15mins we packed up and started reversing our moves down. Route finding
was key once again, and some moves were easier facing into the rock, while
others were easier doing a butt-slide between ledges. Slipping or making wrong
steps was NOT an option. We did rappels through the harder chimneys and even had
one with an overhang so there was no rock to touch until the bottom! Safely at
the snow bridge once again, we climbed across in the softening snow and picked
our way down the class 3 East Ridge towards Bivouac
Saddle. Once there, it was a big sigh of relief for me knowing that the
difficult climbing was over. The talus and snow back towards Tempest Mtn went by
quicker then I thought and most of us headed to camp while Bill and Sam wanted
to tag Tempest also. Wow, good for them!!!!
Back at camp after 10hrs and 40mins. Wayne and I quickly packed up camp and
decided to boogie back to the trailhead so we wouldn't have to spend another
night on the windy and weather-beaten plateau. I knew this would be a tough and
long hike out, but the best option. We found our way back over Froze to Death
plateau, to the divide, and down alllll those switchbacks once again.
We took a 30min break at Mystic Lake to soak our feet and chow down some more
food. Just over 4hrs and we were at the trailhead, it was glorious to see
Wayne's truck again after a 16hr day! Considering it was getting pretty late, we
just car camped near the trailhead with visions of a big greasy breakfast in Red
Lodge the following morning on the way to Yellowstone.......
[Granite Peak] [Yellowstone]