Saturday, June 20, 2009

Steamboat via the Dearborn

Limestone walls lead to the summit

Jim Heckel below Steamboat Peak

One of the many waterfalls along the route
Steamboat Mountain is an interesting climb from the Dearborn River.
There’s no trail, but from the main Dearborn trail into the Scapegoat Wilderness there is a faint game trail that is pretty easy to follow to the high cliffs that must be traversed.
The biggest problem with this route is its unrelenting uphill nature on sometimes unstable gravel.
I’ve hiked this route several times before, most recently about four years ago during a dry winter in the month of February. About 10 years ago several of us skied this route on our old skinny skis and skins. After hiking it Thursday, I can’t figure out how we did it. This is a climb of more than 3,000 feet, without letup.
We ran into snow patches in gullies that were converted into lovely stair-step waterfalls below. There were some snow patches just below the peak as well. In the distance, deeper into the Scapegoat there was considerable snow at altitudes I gauged to be above 8,500 feet.
There were also ticks waiting for us at our rest steps, and I found later when driving home.
Like Sawtooth North that we climbed last week, I like Steamboat because it is such a prominent feature on the Great Falls western horizon.
We marveled that we had this area all to ourselves, despite this gorgeous late-spring day.

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