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Ascent of Haystack Mountain on 2017-05-28

Climber: Duncan Lennon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, May 28, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Haystack Mountain
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:8819 ft / 2688 m

Ascent Trip Report

My hike of Haystack was a near-disaster precipitated by a vortex of stupidity, poor snow conditions, and a comical lack of preparedness. However, after all was said and done, I enjoyed the views from a beautiful summit.

To step back, this was actually my third attempt on Haystack. I've tried to ski it twice, failing spectacularly on both occasions due to overloads of bottomless sugar snow. Once I even failed to make it to the 4WD trailhead, up a gentle road-grade only a mile from the highway. Needless to say, there was unfinished business here, and that fact caused me plenty of trouble.

I didn't see any snow up on the peak from the drive in, so I foolishly left behind every single piece of equipment that could help me: snowshoes, boots, gaiters, ski poles, and a willingness to turn around. So upward I pressed in my approach shoes, quickly reaching big patches of junk slush that only got deeper and more consistent as I climbed. For the last two miles of the hike, I was postholing up to my hips on each step. This was super dangerous since under the snow, the entire mountain is covered in boulders that I could have rolled an ankle or bashed a tibia on. Yet resolutely and idiotically I continued, completely unwilling to fail for a third time on this class 1 hike.

Somehow I didn't injure myself on the way up, so I reveled in the view that Cedron Jones says includes "at least 20 different mountain ranges". But I was dreading the descent, and especially my planned climb of Jack Mountain in the afternoon, so I stalled for a while picking out mountains. Then I carefully stumbled my way back down through the posthole minefield. At the car, I was feeling pretty spanked, so I bailed on the rest of my peak weekend and drove all the way back up to East Glacier.

The lesson here might be to not climb Haystack in May, but really that would have been fine if I'd spent even one second referring to past climbing experiences/common sense before leaving the car. I had all the gear I would have needed in my trunk, but on this day lacked the gear I needed in my head. Be careful out there!
Summary Total Data
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)



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