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Ascent of Sahara Hill on 2011-07-11

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Monday, July 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Sahara Hill
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:5480 ft / 1670 m

Ascent Trip Report

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 the 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 CR-238 heads L (N). A sign indicates 39 miles to Lewistown that way. I stayed straight and continued E on E Red Hill Rd. At 35.8 miles, E Red Hill Rd turns R (S); I stayed straight, now on Ray Creek Rd, whose condition deteriorated to high-clearance only. At 36.9 miles I crossed a CG in a dip. On the N (L) side was an abandoned house, seriously leaning to one side and probably about to collapse. At 38.3 miles, I turned L (N) on Cameron Creek Rd, which was little more than a two-track. At 39.6 miles, I crossed a CG at a fence and No Trespassing sign which claimed patrols and cameras and cited a web site, www.randkinc.com, which appears not to exist. Thinking that if the owner really had the right to exclude visitors, there would be a locked gate, not just a verbal threat, so I decided not to take the NT warning seriously. At 41.1 miles I parked at a grassy two-track turnoff.

I hiked across the grass toward the base of the hill, reaching it in less than 5 minutes. As I started up the gentle incline I entered sparse forest and encountered occasional rocks. The climb was a straightforward 45-minute slog up the gentle slope, sometimes in sparse forest, sometimes in open meadow. A T-shaped fence junction is encountered shortly before the top.

Sahara Hill has a rival summit 0.7 mile to its WNW. To reach it, I turned about 45° R relative to the course of arrival to the first summit and headed downhill through the relatively dense (compared to what I had encountered so far), immature forest. I arrived at the grassy saddle, re-entered the forest and headed uphill, turning L upon reaching the summit ridge. Scattered deadfall is not a significant impediment.

Because both summits are forested (at least in the direction of the other), it is difficult to sight between them. However, I did manage to get a broken view of the NW summit through a gap in the trees below the SE summit, and even though my eye level was ~20-40 feet below the SE summit, the NW summit looked lower. This may be an illusion, due to the rising bulk of the Big Snowy Mtns beyond. I still feel the SE summit is probably higher, but I have no proof.

The peak can also be reached from Ryegate, by heading N on CR-238 for ~21 miles. It then reaches Red Hill Rd at about mile 27.2 in the above instructions.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:920 ft / 281 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Trailhead:Cameron Crk Rd  4560 ft / 1389 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:0 Hours 45 Minutes



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