Monday, September 17, 2007

Holland Peak --- finally!

On the knife ridge to the top

Upper Rumble Lake recedes

On top Holland Peak
It was from the Rocky Mountain Front that I first saw Holland Peak (elevation: 9,356 feet) in the Swan Range and vowed that I would climb it some day.
More than 30 years later I finally got the job done as a couple buddies and I scaled the peak Sunday from the Condon area near Seeley Lake.
Holland, the highest point in the Swans and only 6 feet lower than the highest point in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area (Rocky Mountain Peak in the Front), came to my attention when I would climb the peaks in the Front and Bob and look across to its jagged crest.
Last year I climbed Swan Peak (9,289 feet), just north of Swan along the crest of this wonderful mountain range that with the Mission Mountains frame the Swan valley.
We took the standard route starting from the Cooney Lookout at the end of the Rumble Creek Road. We hopped on Trail 192 for about a mile, crossed the bridges over Rumble Creek, and in about 150 feet found an unmarked trail that leads to the top of the peak.
While that sounds easy, it isn’t.
The unmarked trail rises more than 5,000 feet to the summit, and along the way you climb to Lower Rumble Lake, Upper Rumble Lake and while on the summit ridge scamper across some serious and thrilling knife-ridge and tilted monster slabs, that if wet would be impassable.
The lakes are worth the hike in themselves. They are jewels set where glaciers had once lain. I’m told the fishing is fabulous.
The ridge walk and summit reveals the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area (with Salmon Lake far below) to the south, all the way to the Rocky Mountain Front, the Swan crest south and north (to Glacier), and the Mission Mountains, dominated by McDonald Peak, to the west.
We had considerable smoke from the Jocko-Placid Lake fire that filled the Swan Valley and some black, threatening clouds throughout the day.
We received only a brief sprinkling on the way down.
It bewilders me that this remarkable area, except for the crest and summit itself, is outside the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, just like the peaks in the Front.
I’m certain I’ll be back.

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