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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spring Peakbagging



Dan Saxton and Pudge on the summit. Ch-paa-qn in the background.
This spring has been crazy-busy. The month of March was already over-full, and then my grandmother passed away, and things were bonkers from then on, hence my conspicuous absence from this blog. We had a great Spring Break trip to Utah during the first month of April (more on that later), and then the last six weeks of the semester were full-to-the-brim. Nonetheless, I have been able to get out for a few peak bagging trips. 

The first real peak of the year was with Dan Saxton. We drove up the Ninemile Valley and climbed McCormick and Blackrock Peaks, which are the next major summits northwest from Ch-paa-qn along the Reservation Divide. It was a great day and nice to get out one last time with Dan before he left for Maine. Although Dan is as passionate as anyone I've met for Montana high country, he met a woman in Maine, they decided to get married, and because she is so deeply rooted in Maine, he decided to make the move instead of she. I told him that I thought it was the right choice, as there's no question that family and human connection top everything else. Nonetheless, it's sad to see Dan go, as he was a major positive force in the Missoula peakbagging community. He wrote the newsletter and lead many trips for the Rocky Mountaineers, which is how I got to know him. Dan was always impeccably prepared when you went climbing with him. He was also very ambitious as a peakbagger and did many inspiring climbs in the area -- preferring long, rambling ridge walks linking multiple peaks -- that are classic and now on my to-do list. You'll be missed Dan!
Pudge, Dan, and Blackrock.
Dan looking off into the distance.
The next big peakbagging outing that I did was with Jen. We took advantage of a package deal at Quinns Hotsprings, spent the night, had dinner, soaked, and then climbed the nearby summit of Patrick's Knob in the morning. Patrick's Knob has 2000 feet of prominence, and we did the hike from the level of the Clark Fork, which required over 4000 feet of elevation gain. There were some gorgeous portions of the hike, but there was also some dispiriting bushwacking, and so the day ended up being a bit harder than I had hoped, but it was still fun and a great workout. If our plans hold, this is just the first of many peakbagging outings for Jen and I this year, as she prepares for the Rut. 
Jen at the summit.

Another summit shot.
The Balsam Root were beautiful.




Nearing the car after a long day.
Finally, after our recent cold and rainy spring weather, I decided to hike Sliderock Mountain, which is up Rock Creek, on the east side, up Brewster Creek Road. With the recent spring storms, over two feet of snow had fallen at the summit of Sliderock, and about half the hike was in snow. It felt like winter and was very strenuous with the new, wet snow. 
Sliderock Mountain

Me with Sliderock washed out in the back.