Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homer Youngs in Beaverhead (West Big Hole) Range

H. Wayne Phillips atop Homer Youngs Peak, high point of West Big Hole subrange.

I had never heard of Homer Youngs peak in the West Big Hole subrange of the Beaverhead Mountains until friend Wayne Phillips invited me to climb this 10,621 feet beauty as part of his quest to hit every Montana high point in all of the state's mountain ranges and sub-ranges.
Since I was to be in nearby Dillon last weekend for a meeting, I decided to join him Sunday for what turned out to be a delightful climb in this scenic range on the Continental Divide just east of Idaho and the Lemhi country.
We went in from Jackson (hot springs) up the Miner's Lake Road some 12 miles to a Forest Service campground of the same name.  We had dinner and a soak at the hot springs before climbing into our tents for the night.
Our route was to follow the Miner's Creek Trail 187 to its junction with Trail 402 and when that petered out to ascend a series of benches to a ridge that intersects with Youngs' summit ridge.  While the map shows trail beyond the first lake, there is none.
Heart Lake below our ridge route to the top
This is Big Hole River headwaters and despite the late season, there was water everywhere.
Dense lodgepole forest opened to gorgeous meadows that covered dry lakes with great views of the long ridgeline.
Only one other place I've been had more sign of elk than this wapiti paradise.
The bottoms were full of color
As we walked we heard elk bugling several times, but never caught a glimpse of the creatures.
When we hit the base of the ridge I wanted to go straight up and walk the ridgeline, but Wayne was more interested in a gentler approach at a saddle.
I'm glad we followed his suggestion because the higher we got the more talus we encountered and the ridgeline was covered with the volcanic debris, making walking and climbing a tough ordeal.
There were never any hard angles on the climb.  It was high Class 2 at the hardest, although there was the constant concern that you could twist and ankle or knee in the constantly shifting rock.
The views from the ridgeline were superb, starting with Heart Lake just below Youngs' north face.
On top there were a series of alpine lakes to south, some perched in cirques.  This volcanic country is reminiscent of the High Sierras.  Beyond were a series of 10,000 feet peaks along the Continental Divide.
In the distance we could see the Pioneer and Anaconda-Pintlar mountain ranges to the east an north.
We exited just as a thunderstorm began to pound the area.
Wayne got his high point.


Nameless Range said...

Great write up on the climb. I am curious if you know what source Mr.Phillips is referencing to discern ranges and their highpoints.

The only two I know of are the NRIS Ranges and their Highpoints site and Cedron Jones book "Peakbagging Montana". Though the lists in those two may be the same.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding what delineates Mountain Ranges and whether sub-ranges are just that or are ranges in and of themselves.

Ron Fleck said...

Tom, my son (16), his friend from Wisconsin, and my brother-n-law (from Spokane)...hiked Homer Youngs this past July. My wife's grandfather started hunting the Big Hole in the late 50's. In 1976 their family built one on those cabins you would have seen just prior to crossing the cattle guard and entering the forest on your way up to the Miner Lake Campground.

We've been hiking to, and camping at those upper lakes for many years now, and only this past summer made it atop Homer. We hiked to Rock Island lake (which would of been the three lakes to the south-west from the summit. After one night at the lake we gained the north ridge and scrambled a fairly steep rocky spine all the way to the summit (which would be the ridge directly behind you in your summit picture). Of course what made it a completely wonderful experience was the soaking we had later that evening in the Jackson hot springs! Thanks for your post. Ron Fleck

Tom Kotynski said...

Thanks, Ron. I enjoyed reading the family historical background.