Ascent of Greathouse Peak on 2014-09-13

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Katrina
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 13, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Greathouse Peak
    Elevation:8681 ft / 2645 m

Ascent Trip Report

Our plan was to hike Greathouse and Baldy from the south cutting across the Half Moon Pass as a saddle. This plan was binned after we saw how steep the face on Old Baldy was with a couple inches of snow on it.

We car camped at a meadow just before the first stream crossing where an ATV trail cut off to the left. In the morning we began hiking from here and it was very chilly., especially for my Arizonan partner. We avoided the first crossing by working through the woods on the west side of the creek, but eventually had to make a couple crossings. We were definitely close to getting our feet wet, but waterproof boots save the day. We came to a gate after longer than we planned and then had to make one final tough crossing just after passing through. There were cattle all around and they had a lot to say about our presence. A few of them were near the trail and soon enough we were unintentionally herding them up-valley. The trail was a decent road until after we passed a sign that said no motor vehicles beyond it. The trail got muddy and the cow track pitted. There was still snow in the shadowed bushes and on the slopes of Greathouse from at least a day ago. We stayed straight at a fork to the left and crossed a stream before crossing a meadow of tall grass. I saw some suspicious dirt on the hillside to the west in the trees and sure enough it was the old two track up a hill-ridge to the hiker trail that crosses under Greathouse and meets the ridge south of the peak. Once out of the trees on the two track we met some strong and bitter wind which was not the most fun to deal with. We could tell that the sun was doing its part to melt the snow as we went, though. From a flat part almost at the top of the two track we were in snow all the way to the summit, intermixed with some dirt steps where possible. We chatted the whole way. After gaining the ridge to the summit I saw almost skiable snow off the peak to the SW. Yep, this was the last week of summer alright! this was also the most snow Katrina had ever been in. We then found that the hiker's trial passes around the summit to the west, and so we left it and went straight up to the top. I had one step in a foot deep. The summit was strange because there was a tall and a short cairn and it was difficult to see which was higher. They both looked lower from one to the other. Either way they are 20 seconds away from each other. Old Baldy looked to be the same height, but I intended to get some GPS data to resolve this controversy. I collected a point feature on the summit with a high accuracy device which would give me 10cm accuracy after post processing hopefully. However, through a later mistake I lost this file. Anyway, we took a name break in the summit snow and then hiked back down, abandoning our hopes for Old Baldy. The SE face was free of snow already and the way down was much warmer in the sun and had less wind. We came back down to the cattle and pushed a few of them back down the valley. We had better luck with the stream crossings this direction and made it back to the car much quicker than we had hiked up. We explored our options of going to Old Baldy the next day or getting on back roads to Musselshell, but these didn't pan out. I guess I'll be back out this way some day to finish Fergus up.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Old Baldy from Greathouse Peak with Half Moon Pass on the left (2014-09-13). Photo by Gustav Sexauer.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3038 ft / 925 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3038 ft / 925 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9.8 mi / 15.8 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2948 ft / 898 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2858 ft / 871 m; Extra: 90 ft / 27m
    Loss on way in:90 ft / 27 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Start Trailhead:Swimming Woman Creek  5823 ft / 1774 m
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2948 ft / 898 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2858 ft / 871 m; Extra: 90 ft / 27m
    Gain on way out:90 ft / 27 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    End Trailhead:Swimming Woman Creek  5823 ft / 1774 m
    Time:3 Hours 

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