Ascent of Bare Peak Northwest on 2011-08-13

Climber: Dennis Poulin

Others in Party:Dean Molen
Date:Saturday, August 13, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bare Peak Northwest
    Elevation:9439 ft / 2877 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is a tough climb. Dean and I approached from Montana and Hwy 93. We were driving north on Hwy 93, turned left towards Connor and turned left again on West Fork Rd. After about 10 miles we took a right turn towards Nez Perce and then in 3 miles turned right on a gravel road signed for the Nelson Lake Trailhead. This is a good road, stayed right at 3 miles and parked about 5 miles from the paved road at the trailhead, elevation 6,060 ft. We car camped there and started hiking at dawn the next morning.

The trail starts off nicely and we were soon gaining elelvation. There are some down trees along the trail that have to be negotiated, but it is generally a good trail. We made good progress up to 7,400 ft where the trail goes right toward Nelson Lake and the trail straight ahead has been obscured with dead branches and trees in a feeble attempt to keep climbers from taking that option. Since we wanted to go to Bare Peak Northwest and not to Nelson Lake, we took the obscured trail up the ridge. The trail continued up to about 8,100 ft and then just disappeared. We continued up the ridge to about 8,400 ft and then started traversing to our left trying to follow the contour around to the break in the rocky ridges that we knew were ahead. When we finally came out of the forest and could see Bare Peak Northwest about 2 miles ahead, Dean called it a day and headed back to the trailhead.

Ahead were lots of obstacles. I rock hopped out to the rocky ridges that come down from above and couldn't find the passage at 8,400 ft. I went down the steep slope to 8,200 ft and went around the bottom of a large rocky block. I did a climbing traverse up the other side and from the far side I could see where the break in the rocks was. I noted this for my return. I traversed and climbed towards my objective and finally got to the 8,800 ft saddle just before Bare Pk. I climbed over Bare Peak and then on to the first pinnacle along the ridge. This first pinnacle is a P1k and is the highest point on the ridge. I continued on climbing the next pinnacle, then skipped one, climbed another, could finally see the last pinnacle with a pipe embedded on its summit, and then climbed that one. On the way back out I climbed the ones I skipped on the way in, so that I think I climbed every pinnacle beyond Bare Peak. Most of these pinnacles require a Class 3 move or two, but none of them are more difficult than that and a rope or protection is not necessary.

This is a very long tedious climb and it took me just under 14 hours to complete. I started the day with a gallon of fluids and I ran out the the last hour. Once the trail ends, the route finding becomes an issue and it takes more time. The long ascending and descending traverse along the south side of the ridge is tedious and time consuming. Lots of talus, rock hopping, and route finding make for slow going. Climbing all the pinnacles probably added an hour to my overall time. If all you want to do is tag the county high point, then bypass everything else by staying about 200 ft below the ridge top and try to follow a crude climbers trail through the talus and rocks. Keep heading west and don't start going up until you can see the pipe on the high point.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Round-Trip Distance:13.5 mi / 21.7 km
    Route:Southeast Ridge
    Trailhead:4939 ft / 1505 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dennis Poulin
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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