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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fisher Peak, Swan Range, with The Rocky Mountaineers

Joe and Bryan scrambling on the summit ridge.
One of my goals for this year was to become more involved in The Rocky Mountaineers (TRM), which is a Missoula-based mountaineering club that has been around for many decades. Some of the first peaks that I did when I got back into mountaineering a few years back were TRM trips. For this reason, I felt a responsibility to the club, so since it was looking for 'new blood,' I joined the board and committed to leading some trips this year.

I lead my first TRM trip this past weekend up Fisher Peak in the Swan Range. Three people joined me on the outing: Bryan Kercher, Fintan Maguire, and Joe Scott.  

Fisher is one of the most spectacular peaks along the Swan Front, and it is also one of the most accessible, due to the presence of the Swan Divide Trail #382. To get to the trail head, turn east off of Highway 83 onto Morell-Clearwater Road, between mile makers 27 and 28, about 13 miles north of Seeley Lake. Bear right at a fork in the road after about three miles, and then about seven-and-a-half miles from the highway, you'll be at the obvious trail head.

The first mile or two of trail is basically flat, along an old logging road with great views of Fisher Peak as you go. Then you come to a saddle with a fork in the trail and a sign post with no sign. Turn left and this trail steeply climbs to the Swan Crest. Once on the crest, just walk the ridge north 1.5 miles to Fisher Peak. It's a very nice ridge walk, without much easy walking and with some class 3 sections. The crux is on the steep south face of Fisher. As you walk toward this face, you'll see an obvious scree chute east of the ridge (see photo below), which provides class 3 access to the summit slopes. The stats for the climb from my GPS (probably over-estimates): 10 miles RT, 3400 feet of gain, and six hours. It was a great day with great people. 

Ptarmigan (far left), Fisher Peak (center), Fintan Maguire, and Joe Scott.

Wildflowers on the climb to the crest.

Top of the trail.
The ridge walk begins.

An interesting section, with the Missions as a backdrop.
Our route followed the obvious chute filled with snow to the right of the ridge. To avoid steep snow, we ascended through class 3 cliffs on the right side of the chute.

Joe, Fintan, and Bryan on the summit, with Ptarmigan Mountain as a backdrop.

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