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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Shard, Bitterroot Range

Jen a few steps from the summit of the Shard. It took some convincing to get her to take the last few steps, as behind her is a sheer cliff.
What has turned out to be the last hurrah peakbag for Jen and I, before she does the Rut over Labor Day weekend, was our climb of the Shard in early in August. The Shard is an unofficial name given by climbers to the third highest peak in the Bitterroots (9883'). To get there, you drive to the Chaffin Creek Trailhead, just south of Darby, walk 6 miles to Hart Lake, and then climb off trail 1.5 miles northwest to the summit. An excellent description of the route can be found on Summitpost, or even better, buy the excellent book Bitterroot Mountain Summits, by Michael Hoyt, who wrote the Summitpost page. The route from Hart Lake up the south slope to the summit is very steep, crossing boulder fields, steep talus and scree, and finally turning to solid class 3 at the top, with exposure and loose rock. Jen was nervous -- such routes aren't for the faint of heart -- and so we took it slow, traveling the 1.5 miles from the lake to the summit more slowly than the 6 miles from the trailhead to the lake. The Shard is a fine climb, but it is truly a climb, not a hike, and so is not for everyone. It goes without saying that it was yet another memorable day with Jen during our 20th anniversary summer. 

On the way in.

Looking up at the Shard from Hart Lake.

Early sections of the climb from Hart Lake.

Still higher with Pudge.

And higher still with Sugarloaf in the background.

The class 3 sections with Jen and Sugarloaf once again.

El Capitan, Lonesome Bachelor and the three Como Peaks from the summit of the Shard.

Jen on the summit.

selfie on the summit.

Jen again.

Coming down on the summit cliffs.

More descending on the class 3 sections.

Out of the class 3, looking down-valley.

And headed out.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Holland Peak with Jen and Kara

Holland Peak and Upper Rumble Lake.
Last week, Jen got an invite from Kara Daume to join her on a climb of Holland Peak. We had plans to climb something up the Swan and so it worked out well for us to join forces with Kara. Holland Peak is one of the Missoula area's best climbs. The standard route heads up Rumble Creek, near Condon, Montana, passing two incredible lakes, at which point things get interesting. From upper Rumble Lake, you head south to the rim of the cirque, then east to the south ridge of Holland, and then the fun part, along the rocky crest of the south ridge, with the sheer drop to upper Rumble Lake looming to your left, and finally, on to the summit. For a full description of the climb, see the Holland Peak Summitpost page. My GPS showed 5500 feet of gain, 10 miles, and 9 hours. It was a great day and was fun to share as a group. 

Morning views of the MIssions.

Hiking steep trail.
Upper Rumble Lake is above the falls you see above, and Holland Peak makes the skyline.
The view back down to lower Rumble Lake.
And again further up.
Upper Rumble Lake.
And again at the upper lake.
Holland Peak from the climb up to the rim of the cirque above upper Rumble.
Kara looking at the Missions.
Up on the interesting south ridge of Holland.
And again.
And yet again.
The interesting spot before gaining the summit slopes.
Finally, gaining the summit.
20th Anniversary year.

Rumble Lakes, upper and lower, from the south ridge of Holland.
Heading home.
Easy traveling, for a change, on the Swan Crest.
And to top things off, a swim in lower Rumble Lake.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Nicholia and Deadman Creeks Backpack, Italian Peaks, with Ellie, Dave, and Camilla

Ellie Checking out the plane crash.
Dave Sumner and I have been backpacking, more or less every year, since 2000. In these hectic years of high school and college aged kids, it's challenging to make time to get together, but we're always glad we do. This year, we did a trip with our girls: my 16 year old daughter Ellie, and Dave's 18 year old daughter Camilla. Dave is an English Professor at Linfield College (a small liberal arts college in the Willamette Valley of Oregon), but he spends a couple of weeks every summer in Salt Lake City, where he's from. This year we decided to meet in Lima, Montana (3.5 hours from Missoula and 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City) and drive approximately 30 miles into the Italian Peaks to hike the Nicholia/Deadman Creeks Loop. This hike can be found in the Montana Hiker's Guide and it goes through some fantastic and unusual country: there's a lot of sage brush for one; there's a ton of high peaks, including Italian Peak and Scott Peak; near the pass between the two basins, there's a 'breach anticline', which is a neat geological feature; and there's Divide Lake, which is a beautiful little gem with great fishing. We had set aside 5 leisurely days to do the 23 mile loop, with a couple of layover days planned, but the bugs were so bad that we cut the trip short one day. Nonetheless, the country worked it's magic, and we had a great trip. There were many highlights, but here are a few: Dave and I complained bitterly about the bugs, but the girls didn't complain; Ellie and I hiked up to a plane crash on the side of a peak near camp; and on the last night we had a great, spirited discussion about feminism with the girls. Listening to these girls, I have confidence in the future of our country and world.  

I highly recommend visiting this part of Montana. I plan to go back for some peakbagging, perhaps with Jen in tow. But given that the bugs were so bad in late July, I'll definitely wait until mid-August, or even better, September-to-early-October. 

Heading in, day 1.
At the fire, night 1.
Later, the sunset.

Dave and Camilla.
Ellie on our day 2 day hike.
And again on our day hike.
Heading up to the peak with the plane crash.

A breach anticline at the top of Deadman Creek.
And again with Dave and Camilla.
Ellie and Camilla swimming.
Divide Lake - a beautiful spot.
Hiking out on the last day.
It was hot and bluebird.