Trip: Granite Peak - SE Ridge/Face

Date: 7/10/2011

Trip Report:
In the weeks leading up to this climb, we strongly considered the South Couloir route that approaches via Cooke City but with the monster snow pack, accepted our mission to hike the Phantom Creek approach. This is likely one of the nicest most consistent grade trail I've hiked to approach a climb as should be evident by the smile on my partner's face.


Reaching the Froze to Death Plateau took approximately 4 hours from the trailhead, intermittent post holing, scree and boulder hopping ensued across this wasteland. An additional 2-3 hours after reaching the divide between east and west Rosebud, we arrived at our high camp, next to a nicely flowing spring. I was ready for a break, not having been above 10k for a long time. Not another soul on the plateau, it is a pretty area in a giant gravel pit kind of way. No goats, one lonely marmot who kept his distance. The only other people we encountered on the entire trip was a father/son duo on the plateau while we were decending. They had broken up the West Rosebud approach into two days.


We performed the usual camp chores and ducked into the tent for the afternoon thunder storms. Woke up to 30 degrees and starry sky at 4:00am. Left camp after a leisurely breakfast and coffee, finishing the hike up to where we'd drop into the Tempest/Granite Col.



Granite looking good under blue skies in the morning light.


We scrambled the rock ridge where possible, carefully route finding along the ridge to the SE face. Having carried a rope and small rack the entire way, we agreed to leave them in the pack for the duration of the climb as we didn't encounter any sustained climbing. I don't know how many of these "mid fifth" climbs I've carried a rope/rack the entire climb and not broke it out. I'd take it again because I'd want it if the rock was wet or icy and I'm just not that bold.


Reaching the summit 4 hours after leaving camp, we took in the incredible views of the Beartooths and even spotted the Tetons in the distance.


The peak to my left in the photo is the Beartooth Range's Glacier Peak and you can see the Becky Couloir route (5.7 AI3 Grade IV) up the prominent gully to the summit. I think Becky climbed it in '64.



Taking notice of some suspicious clouds on the horizon, we down climbed the route and hurried back to camp where we scarfed down some lunch and broke camp. We took a more direct route across the plateau and made it into the Phantom Creek drainage just as a huge thunderstorm engulfed us. Taking a break at tree line, the rain caught us and kept it cool for the long hike out.

Despite being in as good of shape as I've ever been, I was surprised and humbled with how physically demanding this climb was. Lot's of mileage and time above 12,000'.

Having made the Huckleberry Creek approach on a previous attempt and my partner having done the standard approach from West Rosebud, we agreed Phantom Creek is the easiest considering the even grade and excellent maintenance of the trail.