Ascent of Lost Peak-Southwest Summit on 2011-07-11

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Monday, July 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Lost Peak-Southwest Summit
    Elevation:8280 ft / 2523 m

Ascent Trip Report

Perched on the southern flanks of the Big Snowy Mtns, Lost Pk is an alpine wonder. A trail heads from CR-238 up through the forest and then to alpine tundra and talus. Continuing about 3 miles farther up the trail brings one to the summit of Old Baldy, possibly the HP of the Big Snowy Mtns (thereby taking the prominence of the range), and also the liner HP of Golden Valley county. As both a county HPer and a county prom-pointer, it made sense for me to combine all 3 objectives in one hike.

From US-191 at Judith Gap, which is ~20 miles N of Harlowton, I turned E on CR-297. Call this point mile 0.0. The highway heads mostly E, with a couple of southward jogs. At mile 11.9 the pavement ends. At 14.2 miles the main road turns 90° R. I passed up a side road that goes straight ahead. At 17.3 miles I turned L on Judith Gap Rd. Somewhere in the next 10 miles the road changes name to Red Hill Rd. At 31.2 miles I turned L to remain on Red Hill Rd (CR-238). It heads N for a couple of miles, does a few jigs, and eventually heads E. At 33.8 miles is an intersection where I again turned L (N) to remain on Red Hill Rd and CR-238. I continued on this road to mile 41.3, where a grass road branched off to the L across a brushy meadow just before the road reached a saddle. I parked near here, within a stone's throw of mile post 33. That mile 33 is the distance from Lewistown, from which this point can also be reached.

I hiked up the grassy road, which wended its way among scrubby woods with a few meadows. After about 30 minutes' hiking time, I encountered a sign identifying the Big Snowy Trail, and at this point the road indeed changed to a trail. My GPS, however, placed this point considerably farther along than the map shows: both the horizontal and vertical measurements show that this point is at about 6800' elevation. Here the forest cover became more continuous and more mature.

After another ~40 minutes, the trail reached a rim with a gorgeous view; this is roughly at the B in Big at 7700' on MyTopo. The forest thinned out, I was approaching treeline, and I was greeted with a view of an alpine talus ridge on the other side of a horseshoe-shaped bowl. From here it only got better. It was a scenic wonder to hike this talus ridge, with forest giving way to tundra as the ridge headed N and then turned SW toward Lost Pk. The trail skirts the base of the SW summit of Lost Pk, whence I left the trail and scrambled a short distance up scree and talus to the summit. Cairn, no register.

If the Golden Valley prom point were the only goal of the hike, I would have turned back here. However, I was also here to climb Old Baldy and the liner HP of Golden Valley county just 250' to its S. After dropping down 400' to the prominence saddle of the SW summit Lost Pk, I continued up the ever more scenic alpine talus-and-tundra ridge for another 3 miles, reaching the summit of Old Baldy about an hour later.

All in all, this hike is an alpine scenic wonder. You spend a total of at least 4-5 hours above treeline on an alpine talus-and-tundra ridge.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2280 ft / 695 m
    Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route:Old Baldy Trail
    Trailhead:Red Hill Rd  6000 ft / 1828 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:3 Hours 

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