Sunday, July 20, 2008

Warren Peak: Anaconda Pintler Wilderness Area

Mount Warren from a distance, our ultimate goal

The peak's ridgeline from our campsite at Tamarack Lake

On top!
We took a quick-hit backpack trip into the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness Area that straddles the Continental Divide between Anaconda and Sula Thursday-Saturday.
I hadn’t set foot in this area for more than 30 years, and now regret it.
This sprawling wilderness is full of tall peaks over 10,000 feet, multiple alpine lakes, and scenery that won’t quit.
Entry to the area is by way of “portals” or gateways on various sides.
We chose the Carpp Portal south and west of Philipsburg on the northcentral side of the wilderness.
We were looking for a high-peak experience where we could wander the Continental Divide along long ridgelines.
That meant hiking to Tamarack Lake, an alpine gem (with an island in the middle) that sits below Mount Warren, at 10,460 feet, the second highest mountain in the area (after West Goat Peak at 10,793 feet).
Warren can be seen from Highway 38, the Skalkaho Pass Road between Philipsburg and Hamilton. It is the highest thing on the southern horizon.
The Carpp Lake Portal has a great road and it is possible to reach it by coming in from Highway 1 near Georgetown Lake.
Our hike took us past the Carpp Lakes and into a basin where Tamarack Lake is the trail dead end.
There is still considerable snow on the ground at this 8,100 feet campsite.
We were surprised to find three other parties camping at this remote lake on Thursday.
It was ours alone on Friday.
Warren Peak is a classic, glaciated mountain.
It is a relatively straight-forward climb, though.
We worked our way around Tamarack Lake and attained the Porter Ridge line that lead straight to the peak.
Because of its central location we got a great look at the entire wilderness and mountain ranges far into Idaho.
I was impressed with the number of lakes we could see from this high perch: the four Carpp Lakes and an Iceberg Lake-look alike at the head of them, Tamarack Lake, Rainbow and Edith Lakes, and numerous other small tarns.
We could also see a high wall below us to the south at the head of Edith Lake that connects Warren to McGlaughlin Mountain (over 9,500 feet).
There were numerous challenges crossing this beautiful wall, not the least being its final pitch onto the McGlaughlin face.
By moving to the west we found a good chute with a series of ledges that lead us to the top.
McGlaughlin gave us a great look at Johnson and Rainbow Lakes and a better idea of how the Continental Divide Trail stitches the wilderness area together.
We dropped down 1,000 feet to Edith by way of an impossibly steep elk trail, and then worked our way back up the Porter Ridge and a hillside of granite rock, finally descending through the cliffs to our camp at 9 p.m., completing an 11 hour day.
Our weather had been quite good. Thunderstorms, which gave us pause, were diverted to the Deer Lodge valley. Alpine flowers were out in profusion.
Although we found signs of goat, elk and bear, we didn’t see any of these animals.
To satisfy our curiosity, after leaving the Carpp Lake Portal, we drove to the Storm Lake Portal to view that area, which had been our initial goal.
We were treated to a high mountain reservoir, high peaks and ridgelines, and glorious wildflowers. We walked the last half-mile or so to the lake because the road was too tough for Mark Hertenstein’s sedan. We walked around the lake, sometimes in snowfields, and viewed with interest this northeast wilderness gate.
I'd highly recommend Mort Arkava's, "Hiking the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area" because where to start and how to go in this area can be confusing.
The rock in this range is granite and as many colors as the rainbow.

No comments: