Granite Peak
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[Devil's Tower]        [Granite Peak]        [Yellowstone]        [Grand Teton]

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 027 Granite.JPG (134365 bytes)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".029 Granite.JPG (72800 bytes) 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 047 Granite.JPG (168735 bytes)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 in048 Granite.JPG (133010 bytes) 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 053 Granite.JPG (36988 bytes)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 rock072 Granite.JPG (222558 bytes) 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 the time.
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 083 Granite.JPG (147713 bytes)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 Bivouac096 Granite.JPG (108692 bytes) 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 100 Granite.JPG (133907 bytes)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.......

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