Ascent to Granite Peak-East Ridge on 2004-07-13

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:guide Lyle Schultz
Date:Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Granite Peak - East Ridge
    Elevation:12400 ft / 3779 m
    Remaining Elevation:399 ft / 122 m (13% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

I contracted Beartooth Mountain Guides, Lyle Schultz. I arrived here at Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness on July 8th, W Rosebud Valley, Mystic Lake Electric Power Plant at the end of the road, and I did 2 acclimatization climbs before setting out on this trip.

It is not the intention of this report to give exact times/distances. This is a general overview of my experience.

DAY #1 - Day before yesterday (july 11) I arrived at the TH, elev 6558',at the end of the W rosebud road, for 8hoo hrs. I met Lyle, his partner Charlie Manfredi and son Chas, their friend and porter Austin.
After getting acquainted and reviewing the gear Lyle, Austin and I set out at 9h15 hrs, W rosebud trail. Once at the Mystic Lake Dam we continued on the S side of the lake to the mouth of the Huckleberry Creek elev 7700'. Here we picked up the Huckleberry Creek trail climbing S to Princess Lake at elev 9100'. The upper part being very rough/rocky over huge boulders, rock hopping/dangerous, the odd cairn led the way. Windy and cool, took a number of granny stops.
The campsite is located on the west of the lake, Lyle set up a 3 person tent, Austin didn't use his area and chose to sleep outside. Lyle cooked a bean/rice dinner.

DAY #2 - Yesterday was a fairly short day with the last section being tough. We climbed out of Princess Lake on a steep slope to the Snowballs Lake, semi rock/rocky trail made the way thru the Snowballs to the Avalanche lake, where the first view of Granite Peak 3000' above the lake is awesome. However here you begin the real fun ! ! ! The whole N and E side of the lake is one humongous pile of boulders, some larger than a car ! ! ! Really slow/tough, took forever.
Arrived camp located at the SE corner of Avalanche Lake at 14h00 after a 4 hour day, elev 9800'. An ok spot if it wasn't for the marmots, ground squirrels and goats which were not a problem. We had to continuously shoo them away. I killed a marmot with a rock.
A hot PM, washed up in lake. Lyle uses a UV water purifier. View of Granite is a reminder of tomorrows challenge. Once again Austin slept under the stars. Lyle talked about tomorrow's climb, we will get up at 3 and leave by 4.

DAY #3 - We left camp as planned, 4h00 hrs, headlamp. Once around the lake we scrambled thru some rocky/loose terrain to the steep snowfield on the N face of the east ridge. We zig-zagged our way without crampons, taking the odd granny break and arriving at the saddle, elev 11500', between Tempest/Granite Mtns, at 7h30 hrs. The weather was overcast, little wind.
After a short break we made our way up the E ridge, staying to the left, S face. Their is a "use" trail, however we had numerous snow patches, put on/took off crampons, time consuming. Once on top of the ridge we roped up to cross a long snowfield and a snowbridge.
Lyle reorganized the ropes, we ascended a number of vertical chimneys, always being belayed, class 3-4 moves, up to a small ridge. Here we dropped into a bit of a depression/gully, down climbed/traversed to another scramble up a class 4 chimney that brought us to a notch.
At this time the skies were darker. Lyle informed me that he sees rain/lighting in the distance and that we have to get off the ridge ! ! ! The rains will be here in an hour or so, it was now 11hoo hrs, elev about 12400', we were moving slow. This surprised me somewhat, it didn't seem all that bad to me ! ! ! However I paid him for his knowledge of the mountain,so we descended.
We got back to the saddle 2 hours later, 13h00 hrs. The rains came as predicted, real heavy, thunder in the distance.
Put on our full rain gear and descended the N face snowfield without crampons. Back to camp at 16h30 hrs the rains stopped, full sun. A 12 1/2 hour day, and very disappointed. This is the first highpoint that I didn't get the first time.
Austin slept outside again, good weather ! ! !

DAY #4 - Tomorrow we would leave camp at 9h30 hrs, the boulder fields were again tough, retraced our route, took regular breaks on the way down. Back down to the TH at 17h30 hrs after a 8 hour day.
A disappointing trip considering the good weather after the rains ! ! ! Not too happy. However I must say that Lyle did a good job and not the reason for my mood.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2600 ft / 792 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:S end avalanche lake,N slope to saddle/East ridge
    Trailhead:avalanche lake campsite SE corner  9800 ft / 2987 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope, Guide, Tent Camp
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Overcast

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