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Ascent of Dovetail Butte on 2014-07-06

Climber: Edward Earl

Date:Sunday, July 6, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Dovetail Butte
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:3260 ft / 993 m

Ascent Trip Report

On MT-200 near Winnett, 0.2 mile east of the junction with MT-244, I proceeded N on a well-graded gravel road which is identified in DeLorme as Dovetail-Valentine Rd. In the field a sign says this road is the way to Crooked Creek but there is no indication of the name of the road itself. Call this point mile 0.0. At mile 2.4, I went L at an unsigned fork. At mile 6.0, the road avoids a stream cut by making a tiny sharp blip to the W of its otherwise direct northerly course. At 11.2 miles, I went R at an unsigned fork. At 12.3 miles, turn R on Dovetail Rd. White signs at this junction identify many destinations, mostly ranches. At 26.2 miles, turn R at a T-intersection onto 79 Trail (not signed as such at this point, though signs at other places identify it). At 27.0 miles, I turned L (N) on Crooked Creek Rd, identified by a BLM sign. Over the next 2 miles, the road made several right-angle turns E and N until finally heading E. At mile 29.4, I crossed a cattle guard immediately after which was a major ranch on the L. Finally, at 30.5 miles, the road topped out at a saddle; this is "point 2992" on the USGS topo map. I parked here at a grassy pullout where a private road headed S. Any street legal vehicle would be able to drive here in any weather. A No Trespassing sign was visible on a fence some distance up the hill farther S, but I was well short of that. GPS showed 2.03 air-miles to the summit of Dovetail Butte.

I hiked up the grassy hill to the NW, picking up a faint grass two-track. After about ½ mile, the dome-shaped profile of Dovetail Butte came into view. Its slopes are plastered with steep, heavily rilled dried mud. I stayed mostly near the crest of the N then W trending ridge, occasionally skirting its S side. Starting at about 0.6 miles from the summit, the S side of the ridge is occupied by two basins that are cut by a maze of rilles of dried mud. You must stay very close to the crest of the ridge, using occasional cow trails, or you will probably get dead-ended and have to choose another route. Upon reaching the base of Dovetail Butte itself, I saw that its S ridge offered the least steep, most grassy, and least muddy way up, so I opted for it. There are probably 1 or 2 routes on the E side that are not unclimbable, but the S ridge is definitely the most sane.

This climb is probably not entirely kosher. Delorme shows the butte itself on BLM land, but a large tract to its S is probably owned by the ranch. On the hike I saw minimal evidence of human use and the chance of encountering another human is minimal, but a climber who wants to do everything by the book would probably try to determine for sure if some part of the land is privately owned and if so contact the owner.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:668 ft / 202 m
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:5 mi / 8 km
    Route:E ridge
    Trailhead:Crooked Creek Rd  2992 ft / 911 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:1 Hours 5 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 5 Minutes



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