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Ascent of Snowshoe Peak on 2010-08-22

Climber: Eric Noel

Others in Party:Ken Jones
Dennis Poulin
Date:Sunday, August 22, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Snowshoe Peak
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:8738 ft / 2663 m

Ascent Trip Report

Our trip began with the end of someone else's adventure. As we prepared to depart, a trio came up to us saying that they needed some help. They said that they had dayhiked the Leigh Lake route-- yesterday. They could not find their way back down from the summit so they bailed out via the Snowshoe Lake side.
They spent a cold night bivouaced at the lake around a campfire and then they had hiked out to the TH in the morning. Their rope was above the glacier and their car(s) at the other TH and they were afraid that friends and family as well as SAR would be concerned. So I drove them around until we finally found a house with someone home so they could get to a phone. As a side note, they were very clear that the route up the Leigh Lake side is appreciably harder than that from the Snowshoe Lake side. This is not surprising but was the first direct report that I am aware of from someone who had taken both routes.

We found the old road to the TH was obliterated by a stream and now is a stream for a good half mile or so. So the parking is now at the 2430' junction and don't expect that to improve. We walked along the stream and then the old road and then the trail. Earlier than expected, we came to the manway at about 4560' and this was fairly easy to follow. It was brushy and a stiff workout but I guess it got the job done. Eventually the brush recedes and you follow the bootpath up steep slabs and then finally to Snowshoe Lake where we set up camp. We had a fairly uneventful night and we got up early to get moving. We rounded the lake and then went up gentle terrain into the basin. Here, we went up a grassy riblet and aimed for the less steep gully on the right. Some loose talus but no real issues. The gully appears to come to a constriction where it might be get scrambley but the easy travel persisted. At one point I did a single class 3 step off the deck to start a switchback on a ledge to get up a 10 foot wall but nothing else the entire way exceeded class 2. We were on low angle slabs and soon the forested ridgeline. We walked the ridgeline and Dennis stayed on the R while Ken and I stayed towards the middle but it goes either way. At about 8100' it started to steepen a bit but we found that if we stayed on the right and keep an angling ascent that there were no issues. At the top we found two summits with the one on the right appearing to be the HP while the huge cairn on the left was lower. And that was that. We hiked down as the weather rolled in. In the process, we passed two fishermen who were heading up into the incoming weather.

We packed up just as it started raining. The descent was then slowed as we had to navigate the steep slabs which were not fun in the rain while carrying backpacks. We were careful but Dennis did hurt his finger a bit on one fall. In the end we made it down safely. Then it was just a matter of crashing through the miserable wet brush on the manway for a while. All life is suffering said the Buddha. Or at least he said all life is Dukkha. Either way, wet brush sucks. Anyway, we perserved through the manway and the rain abated as we got back to the good trail. We slogged our way out and before we knew it our hike was done. Well, OK we knew it a while before it was done because it was a long way out. But Snowshoe is ours.

This peak turned out to be fairly easy. Straight-forward navigation and no real scrambling or route-finding issues. The manway was heinous but fairly easily followed. All in all the peak is simple from this direction but it is also unequivocally a grunt that might leave you yearning for the short but harder difficulties of the Leigh Lake route.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6948 ft / 2117 m
    Extra Gain:320 ft / 97 m
    Distance:18 mi / 29 km
    Route:Snowshoe Lake
    Trailhead:Road Washout  2430 ft / 740 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2+
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Raining, Pleasant, Breezy, Overcast
Fairly Nice on Saturday, Cloudy and then Rainy on Sunday



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