Granite Peak - South Face (via East Ridge), July 2011
Recalling the good 'ol days of road trips past, I set forth to explore the Beartooth and Wind River mountain ranges. Specifically, I took a week off to bag the Montana and Wyoming state highpoints - Granite Peak and Gannett Peak. Each being well over 12,000ft in elevation, these oft-visited summits offer sweeping vistas over some of the more scenic mountainous areas of the lower 48 states. Granite was first on my peakbagging agenda. Considered one of the most difficult highpoints in the lower 48 states. Granite's standard route involves a somewhat strenuous 10 - 12 mile approach with about 6300ft of total gain to reach the summit. The climb itself entails mostly class 3 and 4 scrambling with moderate exposure.
After about 14 or so hours of driving, I left the interstate at Columbus, MT proceeding along county and gravel roads to finally reach the Mystic Lake Trailhead. Hiking in to a comfortable camp just below the infamous Froze to Death Plateau that afternoon, I braced myself for a night of wind and rain (the first of many on this trip), feeling none too optimistic about the prospects for the next day. The trail officially begins up the road about 200 yards beyond the normal parking area. It is reached by walking through the Montana Power Company facilities where the trailhead is clearly marked with a Forest Service sign. Unfortunately for me however, the road was barricaded at Mystic Lake parking area due to a "washout" most 2wd vehicles would be able to drive past. This added about 1.5 to 2 additional miles to the approach. (more...)
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