Ascent of Greathouse Peak on 2011-08-27

Climber: Bob Bolton

Others in Party:Duane Gilliland
Date:Saturday, August 27, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Greathouse Peak
    Elevation:8681 ft / 2645 m

Ascent Trip Report

Duane and I had attempted to bag Greathouse in 2009, but were unsuccessful due to weather. We had driven the Swimming Woman road to near the base of the mountains, hoping that the rain would quit. But after waiting for several hours we became fearful that the road would be too muddy to exit the area, so we gave up. This time the weather was perfect, but there had been a washout in the road that hadn't yet been repaired. Before we were aware of the washout we passed a side road that seemed to head up onto a bench west of the creek, and took note of that in case the creek-bottom road became a problem. Soon after passing that road Duane excitedly told me to look ahead -- there was a cougar in the road. I looked up in time to watch a beautiful cougar loping down the road ahead of us perhaps 100 yards distant. The animal suddenly turned left and headed up into the trees and brush. Soon after passing that spot we came upon the washout, turned around, and headed back toward the side road (46.69013N 109.35637W). Sure enough that road headed north as well, but up on the bench so that it couldn't be washed out. We drove a short distance and suddenly Duane again excitedly told me to look forward because there was another cougar. Then another and another and another popped up from the high grass and crossed our road, again about 100 yards ahead. The three additional animals were almost certainly nearly full-grown pups. We theorized that when we turned around at the washout the mother assumed that we had left, so she went to fetch her cubs and was heading back down to the creek as we approached on the bench road. We continued our drive to the base of the mountains and entered Forest Service land soon before reaching the end of the road, as this one too had been washed out just before rejoining the first road. We parked at 46.71573N 109.34502W. As we prepared for our hike we heard some very distressed cattle, and surmised that the cougars were trying to take a calf. This was the first time either Duane or I had ever encountered a cougar in the wild. What a thrill!

Almost incidentally, the Greathouse hike was spectacular with gorgeous weather.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2824 ft / 860 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2824 ft / 860 m
    Start Trailhead:End of 2-track road just west of Swimming Woman Ro  5857 ft / 1785 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bob Bolton
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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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