Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sleeping Giant: a climb to the belly

Sleeping Giant: we climbed the "belly".   The "nose" was about 1,000 feet below us when we reached it.
It's hard to believe that less than a week ago we were in Glacier, forced to use snowshoes to negotiate the 4 and 5 feet snow on the trails.  In fact, my wife is in Glacier right now shoeshoeing.
I was at Holter Lake Saturday enjoying a spectacular, warm and windless day of canoeing and a climb to the Sleeping Giant's belly (elevation:  6,794 feet), with a grand variety of alpine flowers.
Our goal had been to climb to the tip of the Giant's nose (elevation: 5,600 feet).  We were to put in at Big Log and canoe around the Missouri River oxbow and approach the "nose" directly from the lake --- a fairly simple and straight-forward climb.
But when we put in, we could see the "belly" and a very direct route before ever reaching the oxbow bends, and save a couple of miles of canoeing.

The draw of the climb was too much.
The water was calm and flat and easy to paddle.
The climb was pretty straight up.
We gained 3,600 feet in 4.7 miles.  When we hit the ridge line we encountered snow patches along a route that rose and fell.
I had been in this general areas before, having climbed to the belly some 20 years ago from the north.  The route we chose Saturday connects to the BLM's recommended route for the Sleeping Giant, a route that begins at Woodsiding near Wolf Creek.  This route would be more than 18 miles in length.  We had fallen short of our goal a couple of other times on that long route.
This is beautiful, high country always in sight of the oxbow, the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area, and once on top, deep into the Bob Marshall country.
This was a robust early season hike for me, and I felt it.

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