Thursday, June 29, 2006

A time to explore

Walking the walk up the ridgte

Paul Haffeman does some real climbling

Mark Hertenstein in a field of alpine flowers

View from the top

An alpine lake below the peak
Last week was the time for exploration.
I headed up into the Little Belts to look over the head of Jefferson Creek for winter use and to climb Tepee Butte (elevation: 8,240 feet) while I was there.
Then, five days later we tried a new route on Red Mountain, the highest mountain in the Scapegoat Wilderness and Bob Marshall complex at 9,411 feet.
We picked up the Jefferson Creek Road off the Belt Creek Scenic Byway, a couple of miles south of the mining camp of Neihart. The road is rough, but passable. There are lots of pleasant, undesignated campgrounds along the 4 mile drive to the upper Jefferson Creek trailhead No. 740.
Katie below Teepee Butte
While we were expecting a thin Forest Service trail up to Tepee Butte, unfortunately we found a rather wide ATV track. Parts of the upper trail have been rebuilt to widen switchbacks.
The trail gains more than 1,000 feet to the Dry Wolf Creek Road No. 251 over 2-1/2 miles. Then it is another 500 feet or so to the top of Tepee Butte, a small mountain that looks directly at some of the highest mountains in the Little Belts. There’s Yogo Peak (elevation: 8,801 feet) to the east, and the highest peak, Big Baldy (elevation: 9, 177 feet) to the north.
There are also splendid views of the Big Belt, Bridger, Crazy and Gallatin ranges far to the south.
There are gorgeous parks at the top of Jefferson Creek covered this year with wildflowers, a bonus from our extra-wet spring.

Red Mountain
This was my third climb of Scapegoat’s highest peak. I had done a route from Ringeye Creek 32 years ago, and about 8 years ago had climbed it from Copper Creek from a south spur, gaining it on an east-west ridgeline from there.
We looked the mountain over on Sunday and decided a southwest ridge route from Copper Creek would be interesting.
I had forgotten about the similarity between Red Mountain geology and Glacier National Park. The red, green and brown rocks are all set up about the same in both locations.
We climbed 3,000 feet in elevation over about three miles of ridgeline to the top.
The red, blue and yellow alpine flowers were in heavy carpet along this ridge.
There’s still plenty of snow in the Scapegoat high country, but Red Mountain’s summit was bare.

Wildflowers on Red Mountain climb

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