Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A jagged route up Rocky Mountain Peak

Jim Heckel does Class 4 move on ridge line

Heckel is victorious at the top

The long slog down from the saddle 
Rocky Mountain peak (elevation: 9,392 feet) is a fun day-climb no matter how you approach it.
We bagged it Tuesday up its long, jagged north ridge right off Headquarters Pass.
I think I’ve climbed this peak, the highest in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area some 20 times, but this was only the third time this way.
This route offers truly exciting views along a knife ridge as the route weaves back and forth from east to west. Ultimately, a long gully appears that reaches nearly to the top.
The most traditional route is to go to the saddle south and west from Headquarters Pass and ascend a couloir to the top from the west or to slog up a giant scree field to the east ridge directly from the great basin below the peak. I find the latter two routes uninteresting. The route we chose offers some Class 3 and 4 climbing.
No matter which route chosen, the views from the top are amazing. From this perch you can see clear across the Bob Marshall to the Swan Range on its western boundary with the Chinese Wall, Pentagon Peak and the North Fork of the Sun River. To the north the spectacular peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front, Great Bear and Glacier Park; to the south, all the way to the Scapegoat.
We came off the mountain down the east ridge and then followed a tributary of the South Fork of the Teton River to a gorgeous waterfall and then the trail.
On top Rocky, I counted eight mountain goats ascending the adjacent, unnamed peak above the South Fork to the southeast.
We also saw where a grizzly had been digging and turning over rocks.
I always marvel at this mountain’s high and wild character, particularly because it is so visible from Great Falls’ busiest street over 60 miles away!

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