Ascent of Helen Buttes-Southwest Butte on 2013-06-29

Climber: Greg Slayden

Others in Party:Ken Russell (Stayed behind)
Date:Saturday, June 29, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Helen Buttes-Southwest Butte
    Elevation:5400 ft / 1645 m

Ascent Trip Report

Our goal was the higher Northeast Butte, but we ran out of time so we turned around at 2 PM at the base of the lower SW Butte. I ran up to tag the SW Butte summit while Ken rested below.

The top of the SW Butte is a pretty miserable scramble over steep, slippery heather and very closely spaced trees on sheer rocky steps. Not recommended for those on a day-hike to the NE Butte unless you are a masochist with extra time and really want to pad your P300ft total.

The trail up to timberline is excellent but a long grind. Once high on the ridge we slowed down due to extensive snowbanks and the rocky class 3 fin leading towards the SW Butte.

This peak and trail do not get a lot of use and we only saw one other person all day on a sunny summer Saturday. Very scenic up on the ridges and you will likely have it to yourself.

To go to the higher NE Butte, stay on the ridge over the false summit of the SW Butte, drop down a little and bypass the summit crags of the SW butte on the west, climb up to the north shoulder of that peak, and from there it looks like a straightforward trip to the imposing, rocky NE Butte. Based on our rate of speed, it was too far to go there and back, and Ken was feeling a bit out of gas at that point.

We advise a very early start (certainly earlier than our 8 AM) for those aiming to bag the NE Butte on a day-hike.

Note also that the trail location on the USGS map is pure fiction. See GPS track vs. the marked trail on the accompanying map.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5280 ft / 1608 m
    Extra Gain:150 ft / 45 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Route:Cow Heaven Tr
    Trailhead:Olson Creek Rd  420 ft / 128 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Muggy, buggy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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