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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mount Haggin in Winter, Pintler Range

Al on the summit of Mount Haggin
My Bozeman pal Al Parker and I recently got together in Anaconda to climb Mount Haggin. Al and I were PhD students together in Bozeman from 2000-02 and have remained fast friends ever since. We try to get together a couple of times a year for some high country time. On this outing, we chose Mount Haggin in the Pintler Range outside of Anaconda, since its about equidistant to Missoula and Bozeman. For good directions to climb Mount Haggin, see this description on summitpost.

Haggin is the first big summit I've done where you literally leave from the edge of a town. It's a pretty long slog: 5+ miles to Hearst Lake on an old road, then another 2+ miles to the summit. The last mile or so were slow and grueling due to the new snow on the massive talus field below Haggin's summit. The outing took us 10 hours, was hard, and we were spent at the end of the day. But what a privilege to spend a day in the high country with a good friend.  

Hearst Lake

Al crossing Hearst Lake.

First view of the summit. We climbed the ridge in shadow above my head. Haggin is in the upper-right of the photo.

Though this looked like it would be relatively easy going, it was surprisingly slow and strenuous all the way to the summit. A foot of snow on talus makes for difficult conditions. 
We came down the low angle chute you see above and left of Al's head. It was much easier and would have been the better way to go up as well.

Al taking a break. Haggin up and to the right.
Looking down at Al with the Deer Lodge Valley below.

Another shot of Al climbing

Pudge on the summit.

Al looking off toward northwest at the Bitterroot.

Summit cairn and the dogs.

The mighty Pintlers looking West from Mount Haggin.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Old Baldy, Garnet Range High Point

Looking north at the Scapegoat from Old Baldy. Photo taken with my ancient cell phone.
Over President's Day weekend, I bagged Old Baldy, which is the highpoint of the Garnet Range and is also on the list of Montana peaks with 2000 feet or more of prominence. I got there by driving east of Drummond on I-90 and exiting at Phosphate (Exit 170), a few miles west of Garrison. Form there you drive north on a dirt road, which eventually turns into Brock Creek Road (see a map); Brock Creek drains the southern aspect of Old Baldy. I drove up the road until I started to get nervous about getting stuck and parked. The outing was 10 miles RT and relatively mellow for a P2000 peak. I got the terrible pictures you see here with my old-school cell phone (left my camera at home once again). They don't do justice to what was a beautiful day.
Pudge on the summit.

Another summit shot of Pudge.
Old Baldy

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Three Lakes Peak, Ninemile Valley/Reservation Divide

Ninemile Valley and Stark Mountain in the background. Dan Saxton photo.
January was a disappointingly dry month this year, which was bad for skiing but good for peak bagging. I've actually never really bagged peaks in the winter until this year. I'd summited the odd winter peak back in my 20's when I was back country skiing, but it was always an afterthought. This winter it's been a focus, and I've loved it. Winter is a lovely time to be in the mountains: there are no bugs, it's not hot, and on a clear day the views are uplifting. Probably the top winter peak bagging outing this year -- and there have been some good ones -- was this past weekend, when I climbed Three Lakes Peak with prolific Missoula peakbagger Dan Saxton. Why was it so good? Well, it was a nice day for one, but the distinguishing feature was that the snow pack was dense (Dan was able to do the entire hike in his boots), making for very nice hiking/snow shoeing conditions, and moreover, that the terrain near Three Lakes is perfect for winter travel. It was a very pleasant day and was nice to have company other than Pudge (the dog) on an outing. 

To get to Three Lakes, drive out Ninemile Road until it enters National Forest (approx. 20 miles from Ninemile Ranger Station; this is where the plowing stops in winter) and about a mile later, turn right onto Rd. 5498. In winter, you might just stop here since we only made it up 5498 about 1/2 mile further and were stressed about getting stuck. From your car, follow 5498 to the old logging road numbered 18008 on the map, which will take you up onto the open terrain you see in the pictures below. In summer, drive 5498 five miles to the Burnt Fork Pinnacle trail head and hike good trail.

Note: Many of the pictures in this blog were taken by Dan Saxton. All were taken on his camera since I forgot to put an SD card in mine.
Dan and Ninemile
South Three Lakes. Three Lakes is behind the saddle between the two visible summits. Dan Saxton photo.

Dan near the summit.
On top:Sonyok Mountain under my right hand and Red Sleep Mountain (a.k.a. the Bison Range) under my left hand.
The Researvation Divide looking east (and a bit south) with Ch-paa-qn in the back. Dan Saxton photo.

Ninemile Valley from the summit. Dan Saxton photo.
Looking west along the Reservation Divide. Dan Saxton photo.

Looking north at Baldy Mountain, the Flathead River in the lower left corner. Dan Saxton photo.