Ascent of Holland Peak on 2012-08-16

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Thursday, August 16, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Holland Peak
    Elevation:9356 ft / 2851 m

Ascent Trip Report

On MT-83 ~2 miles S of Condon (virtual MP 40.2), I turned E on Rumble Crk Rd aka FR-560. Call this point mile 0.0. At mile 1.0 the main road turns L (N) where a driveway goes straight ahead. A field is on the R after this point. At mile 1.5 the road turns R (E). The same field is still on the R, and there are many signs on small trees indicating private land on the L. At 2.1 miles the field ends and the road enters a forest. No Trespassing signs abound. At mile 3.2 the road enters the Flathead NF. At 3.5 miles I arrived at the Cooney LO and the road makes a 180° R turn around the LO. At 3.7 miles, the road turns 90° L and ends at a trailhead.

I originally planned to climb Holland Pk as a long dayhike, but the morning I planned to start had a moderate rain, so I decided to wait. The rain stopped later, so I began my hike at 3:30 PM with a plan to camp at one of the Rumble Creek Lakes. I followed the Foothills Trail, which heads directly towards the Swan Range (of which Holland Pk is the HP), then turns R and traverses the base of the range. After a total of ~1 mile, ~100 yards after crossing Rumble Creek, is a junction where the Foothills Trail continues as the R branch. I took the L branch, which is unofficial and not shown on any map but is in good condition. It climbs steeply up the nose of the ridge between Rumble Crk and the S Fork of Rumble Crk. There's one count on which this trail is not in very good condition: occasional logs across it which must be bypassed, but other than that, the trail appears to be maintained even though the Forest Service doesn't officially recognize it. After a steep but very efficient gain of about 2000' elevation, the trail tops out on a flat ridge at a junction. The L branch continues up the ridge but is blocked off by piles of sticks; this is not the correct way. The correct way is the R branch, which descends about 100' gradually, then another 100' more steeply as it bypasses the scree and hardpan scar of a recent slide. It then climbs ~350' to the lower Rumble Creek Lake. The trail divides and becomes a maze with several ways to cross the outlet of the lake; I opted for a log jam along the lake shore. There are also a couple of logs across the creek farther downstream. I considered continuing to the upper lake, but it was getting late and I had already made lots of progress, so I decided to camp here.

Next morning at daybreak I continued up the trail, which makes a steeply ascending traverse around the R side of the lower lake. Just before reaching the base of the waterfall coming downfrom the upper lake is a "fork". A boot path heads directly up the steep slope to the R of the waterfall. A line of cairns, about 8 total and only 10-20 feet apart, continues traversing toward the base of the waterfall. The cairns were numerous enough to convince me that someone intends for this to be the route, so I went that way even though there was no boot path. The route soon crossed the stream at the base of the waterfall, then continued up a krumholtz-choked gully on the L side of the waterfall. The cairns ended and at times the route was steep and indistinct. Occasional bad footing required me to use the krumholtz for assistance. After a few hundred feet of elevation gain, I topped out between two rows of rock outcrops on top of the upper lake's natural dam. A R turn and a couple of minutes of easy grassy stroll brought me to the upper lake's outlet, which I crossed on a combination of rocks and logs. Then I rested.

The buttress that towered above the R side of the lake was steep and loose, but a boot path continued up it and picked a good route up it, using some zigzagging ledges. After about 400' of gain this way, the path topped out on the W shoulder of Peak 8852 and the going became easy tundra. The path continued toward Peak 8852; upon reaching the base of the final rise, it veered R, eventually cresting the SE ridge of the peak at a cairn. From here the path continued down the ridge toward another cairn, but this was not the way to Holland Pk, so I abandoned the path and continued cross-country around the E side of Peak 8852 and continued N toward the summit pyramid of Holland Pk. The ridge descended and became more difficult, eventually becoming a series of tilted exposed squared-off blocks requiring care to climb down each "step". Difficulty was increased by the fact that I was downclimbing a route I hadn't climbed up, so I couldn't see any holds below me, but, with care, it was (down)climbable.

The series of tilted blocky terraces eventually gave way to a couple of smooth tilted slabs on the E side and sheer cliffs dropping straight down to the upper lake on the W side. I negotiated this section using a careful friction traverse, using cracks and tiny ledges in the slabs where possible. Sometimes where the slabs were steeper and smoother I hung off of the very crest by my hands. At the end of this section I arrived at the base of the summit pyramid, where I was forced down and to the R about 50 feet by one final tilted slab.

Once past this obstacle, the going became gradually easier as I ascended the summit pyramid. A boot path reappeared which eased things up a bit. There were also a few cairns, though they were far from consistent. The route stayed near the crest of the S ridge of the peak and surmounted a few final slabs, but these were no big deal and became progressively easier the higher I climbed. I closed rapidly on the summit for the final few hundred feet.

On my descent, I found a few route variations that were easier than my ascent route. A couple of the lower tilted blocky terraces can be bypassed on the west (that's right, west) side of the ridge crest on ledges that are no more than class 2 and have no real exposure to the dropoff down to the upper lake. One of the upper blocks for which a direct climb would be quite exposed can be bypassed on a talus slope farther E.

Here's my recommendation to future climbers negotiating the rocky ridge on Holland:
When you reach the first dropoff at the N edge of the flat talus-and-tundra summit plateau of the S peak, proceed a short distance R (E) until you find a talus slope that you can descend. This avoids a sketchy and exposed direct climb down one of the tilted terraced blocks.
Then, keep your eye out for some class 2 ledges on the L (W) side of the ridge. When you see your chance, go for it; it will save you another sketchy and exposed downclimb.
Holland Peak can be climbed via a route that's no more than low class 3, and it's not difficult to find it if you know it's there.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:5606 ft / 1707 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:8 mi / 12.9 km
    Route:Foothills Trail, Rumble Creek Lakes
    Trailhead:Cooney LO  4550 ft / 1386 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:18 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 

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