Written by ProLite Gear staff.
We didn’t summit. Nope, didn’t even come close. Our boots didn’t even touch the snow. Our harnesses never came out of our packs. So why am I writing this? Because we gathered beta for our next attempt and there’s really no information about this climb anywhere – except for a somewhat cloudy description in a local guidebook. Plus it was a good old fashioned adventure off the beaten path in a beautifully isolated mountain range called the Crazy Mountains.
My climbing partner and I set off for the 2000’ foot couloir of ice and snow on Saturday afternoon, planning to set up camp high on the mountain and summit the following morning. After just two miles we reached the point where the guidebook directs us to lose the trail and begin bushwhacking. We realized then what an undertaking this climb was going to be. A trip to timberline still leaves 3000’ vertical up a loose talus ridge that is so anxious to meet the upper ridge that it could not have been even two miles long. That’s right – three feet up for every two feet forward. This is one of the steepest non-technical approaches I’ve used.
Once the main ridge is gained, the approach requires a 1000’ descent through a steep loose gully to reach a glacial lake. From the lake begins the 2000’ climb… although it seems like the climbing began long ago. This is not a climb for the weak. It now makes sense why this is such a rarely visited route, as it requires strength, endurance, technical skills, good route finding, a sense of adventure, and persistence. Oh yeah, and you better hope the weather is on your side since bailing off of this thing is nearly impossible.
Because we had so little information about the route and the fact that the upper part of the couloir was completely melted out, we decided it was best to change our goal and just collect beta for next time. This route was first climbed in the 1970s and still hasn’t seen much traffic due to its committing nature. We know we’ll be back when the snow and ice reform so we can check it off of our list (and probably add another three while we’re at it). There must’ve been at least a dozen peaks over 10,000’ from our view near the ridge – climbing and ski mountaineering potential seems limitless in this area.
We’re lucky to have such a prominent mountain so close to home. If you or anyone else you know have climbed this route, give us a shout. We’d love to talk with you.