Thursday, June 30, 2011

High on the Highwoods

Standing at the top of Bull Rush Dike in Adels above the Missouri River 
Jim Heckel climbs ridge heading to Highwood Baldy

Square and Round buttes appear as islands on the Great Plains
It's so green.
And, the Highwoods are greener than green and that's where I've been enjoying the sweet early summer color.
In the past week I've climbed the second highest peak in the range, Arrow (elevation: 7,485 feet) and Highwood Baldy (elevation: 7,640 feet) twice by two different routes.
In between I snuck in a climb on the dikes (volcanic plugs)  in the Adel Mountains south of Cascade.
Both the Highwoods and Adels are old volcanoes.
I found plenty of snow in the Highwoods.  The Adels, about 1,000 feet lower, are clear.
We also found a new route into the southeast side of the Highwoods.  We were forced to do so because the floods had knocked out our regular route that goes through the town of Geyser.  Instead, we found a route that starts about 5 miles east of Raynesford off Montana 200.  It is a better road than our original route.
I did Arrow Peak up a very direct route off the Center Ridge Trail from the North Fork of Highwood Creek Trailhead.  It was longer than I had recalled.  You'll find an old hunter's trail if you pick the right ridge line. I figure I gained 2,900 feet on that climb.
I climbed Highwood Baldy from the Geyser side with Jim Heckel on a classic ridge walk beginning at North Peak.  We were disappointed by the hazy skies we attributed to the New Mexico fires.  There was plenty of snow on top and snow on the east and north facing slopes at about 6,700 feet.  With all the ups and downs of the ridge walk we ascended 3,600 feet.
I liked the climb enough that I decided to try it again two days later, but this time on a more direct and steeper route from Deer Creek Trailhead on Baldy's north side.  There were tons of wildflowers mixed in the brilliant emerald grass.  I crossed the deep snow fields on the north side of the summit cap, amazed at the amounts.  Water flowed everywhere.  It was a much clearer day than Monday's climb.
Our climb in the Adel dikes was lazy compared to the Highwood treks, but very enjoyable because it satisfied my curiosity about these volcanic ridges.
Now, on to the Front and Glacier for the rest of the season!

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