Saturday, October 01, 2011

Corrugate-Mt. Wright traverse

Mark Hertenstein on the Corrugate Ridge extension

A true high point on the ridge 
With the named Corrugate Ridge behind me

Mark descending Mount Wright with burned Front below him

We came out in the alpineglow
With cold and winter weather pressing, Friday's traverse could well be one of the last of this climbing season.
In that case, it may have been a case of saving the best for last.
I returned to Corrugate Ridge on the boundary of the Bob Marshall with Mark Hertenstein for the second time this season.
Since my first trip to the ridge I've studied the maps and conclude that there are many possible day trips in the area, most starting from Teton Pass.
My object on Friday was to show Hertenstein the area.  The plan was to do it in reverse of the way I did it in early August, hitting the ridgeline directly from the West Fork of the Teton and doing a traverse clockwise.
Ripe Oregon Grape was copious along the Mount Wright Trail bottom.
My plan nearly went awry when we emerged above the timberline and I discovered that we were one ridge east of our goal.
Fortunately, Hertenstein spied a game trail across the gap between the two ridges, and it wasn't long before we were standing on the ridgeline that is continuous with the Corrugate Ridge.
There are two high points on this section of the ridge, with the highest being 8,461 feet, about 425 feet higher than the lower peak.
The ridge is quite knifey, very reminiscent of nearby Mount Lockhart near the Teton Pass Ski Area.
There is one very "airy" gap near the top that we negotiated gingerly, particularly because the winds began to gust.
Throughout this some of the vistas were obscured, particularly to the south, because of the prescribed burn in the South Fork of the Sun.
However, we had nice views into Glacier, where we could pick out Mounts St. Nicholas and Stimson. To the west, Pentagon, dominated the horizon, although we could see as far as Swan Peak. To the east we could see the white, rounded and extremely steep flanks of Mount Wright.
The walk along the knife-ridge revealed the full Corrugate Ridge and the east-west ridge that connects it to Wright.
It was at this point that we decided to do the slog up Wright rather than come out along its flanks on the bottom.
We found some vegetation that allowed us to get a foothold for about 1,000 feet before we hit the limestone scree.
We crested Wright about 5 p.m. where the sunlight, affected by its autumn angle, lit up the limestone peaks of the Front ---- Werner, Frazier, Choteau.
To the south some of the high peaks like Lockhart, Baldy and Rocky were highlighted in sunlight and smoke.
Then it was down on trail, but for a small section of a gully I'd been curious about for years. We had ascended more than 5,000 feet on this hike.
As we drove out on the Teton Canyon Road we were treated to glorious fall color.
I got home exhilarated by the fantastic scenery and challenge of the Bob Marshall/Rocky Mountain Front country, so close to Great Falls and so accessible.

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