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Ascent of Mount Stimson on 2019-08-20

Climber: Lou Hibbard

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Stimson
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:10142 ft / 3091 m

Ascent Trip Report

As I had been mountain biking more than hiking and wasn't in normal hiking form I took the easy way in.
Day 1 an easy day of 6.5 miles to Coal Creek campground.
Day 2 11 more miles to Beaver Woman Lake Campground.
Summit day would normally have done the trail portion in the dark if not in grizzly country but opted instead to start at first light. Alarm didn't go off so lost another 1/2 hour. Hiked to Buffalo Woman Lake on the trail. Bushwhacked to top of connecting ridge between the two lakes. Then cut left towards Eaglehead Mountain. When the ridge ended I traversed over to the Eaglehead/Pichot saddle. From the saddle you can see a prominent bulge. You want to traverse over staying at about the same elevation but staying below the bulge and any cliffs.
There will be a prominent gully to cross - recommend marking the exit as a GPS waypoint as it is hard to see the best spot to cross while coming down.
I never did find the start of the traverse across Mount Pinchot's SW and western face on the way up. There were no cairns whatsoever. I forced a way across on a ledge system it turns out higher up - some easy 5th class. I then joined the "trail" about 2/3 of the way across. On the way back I did find the trail - there was the occasional cairn but the last 1/2 mile had no cairns (the start coming up). It is apparently against park policy to have cairns like that and park personnel will knock them down.
I took a GPS reading. The GPS coordinates for the start of the traverse going up are: N48.49149, W 113.60332, elevation 7687 feet. From this point if you face Stimson the trail angles steeply down and left down a gully/chute before leveling off into the sloped scree dicey 3rd class in places "trail" . There will be cliffs below and above you all the way across this mile long exposed traverse. You are essentially traversing across a cliff to avoid elevation loss.
Once I got to the Pinchot/Stimson saddle the way above looked much more straightforward although still intimidating. You still have a couple of thousand feet of 3rd/easy 4th class climbing that keeps getting harder the higher you get. I think I'm getting soft from all that mountain biking.
I kept going doubting I'd have time to finish the traverse back in the light. I summitted at 4:37 PM. Downclimbed to the Stimson/Pinchot saddle.
Here I had a choice. I was low on water and bleeding in several places. A little concerned about a grizzly smelling the blood. I could bivy on the saddle or keep going across the traverse in fading light hoping to find water and a place to bivy. I thought I remembered a trickle of water in one spot on the traverse.
I did find that trickle after maybe a half mile. Washed blood. I also found a cool spot to bivy(no tent). Actually a little mini-cave of sorts. I placed some rocks as a barrier so I didn't roll off the mountain in my sleep. Actually not all that cold that night surprisingly.
Next morning finished the traverse. Ended up the campground I wanted on the way back was full for the night (all 3 tent sites) so hoofed it about 23 miles total back to the car. Did last river ford right as got dark. Just got to car when really dark .
Lots of blisters from going really fast on wet feet from the 5 river fords - moleskin wouldn't stick.
My total GPS count: 49.48 miles. 9070 feet ascent on way up, 5 river fords each way.
This one deserves to be on the APEX list - especially with the cairns gone at the traverse start.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:11526 ft / 3512 m
    Extra Gain:2456 ft / 748 m
    Round-Trip Distance:49.4 mi / 79.5 km
    Route:Coal Creek
    Trailhead:Coal Creek Trail  3528 ft / 1075 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp, Bivouac
    Weather:Great weather



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