Ascent of Whitetail Peak on 2015-07-21

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Others in Party:Marshall Stewart -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Whitetail Peak
    Elevation:12551 ft / 3825 m

Ascent Trip Report

WOW! What an intimidating looking peak. At any position to the northeast, Whitetail Peak looks impossible to climb without rope and great experience. Fortunately, this is not the case. I do not want to make this summit sound easy, but do not be discouraged by its looks. You will find for the most part, that Whitetail Peak is just a steep grunt of Class 2 and 3 bouldering with no technical portions requiring climbing hardware. My son, Marshall, and I reached September Morn Lake in one day and setup our base camp. We climbed Silver Run Peak the next day, both west and east summits and cancelled our way too ambitious plans for bagging Whitetail in the same day. We were on the trail for Whitetail Peak at 6:30 AM the next morning and followed the excellent trail to the top of Sundance Pass. We reached this point at 8:00 AM. From here it is cross country travel to the southwest with some steep Class 2 climbing. We decided to bag Mount Lockhart en route, but this is not an easy bump along the way as indicated on the topo map. It requires Class 3 work and will cause a slight detour and a fair amount of time. If weather or lack of time is a factor, you would be better off to circumnavigate Mount Lockhart to the east and south and focus on climbing Whitetail Peak instead. Once you reach the saddle between Mount Lockhart and Whitetail Peak, the climbing REALLY begins. It will be a bit frustrating because you will have had to lose, at least 100 feet of elevation to get there. We found the travel was best to stay off the top of the ridge, where it is much more rugged, and stay on the ridge's southeast side until you reach the bottom of the saddle. From here it is really quite straight forward. Just pick the path of least resistance up the northeast slope where you will never experience anything worse than Class 3 climbing until you reach a level plateau. Hike to the northwest corner of this area to a small notch that will require you to lose 20-25 feet. From far below, it was this notch and section of the climb that looked the most terrifying to me, but the descent to the base of the notch is easy and stress free. The last section, however, is a different story. Follow the faint path created by hundreds of others with mostly Class 3 climbing to the top of the 4th highest named peak in Montana. Along the way, my son and I found 2 spots that required very short Class 4 work, but even timid climbers should be okay. They might just need a boost up or a helping hand. Honestly, there is nothing here that needs a rope. If you do, you are probably off the established route. We found a small cairn on the summit and fantastic views. This peak is a great confidence builder for rookie climbers.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp

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