Ascent of Hollowtop Mountain on 1994-07-28

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, July 28, 1994
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Hollowtop Mountain
    Elevation:10604 ft / 3232 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today I climbed the highest peak in the Tobacco Root Mountains of southwestern Montana, Hollowtop Peak (10,604 feet), as well as neighboring Mt. Jefferson (10,513 feet). I left my car (where I had slept in it all night) at 7 AM, and first hiked up the trail along North Willow Creek for five miles to Hollowtop Lake. From there I bushwhacked through open forest past Deep Lake, up a minor ridge, past a small, unnamed lake I called the "tarnlet", and then up a very steep, forested slope that was the only break I saw in the cliffs guarding the south slope of Hollowtop's east ridge. After gaining the top of the ridge I scrambled up the manageably steep grassy/bouldered ridge to a gradual rise that led me to Hollowtop's summit by 10:45 AM.

It was a very cloudy day, but the coolness and light breeze still didn't get rid off all the flies at the summit. I looked though the register--this peak got about one party on top per day in summer--and ate a little bit food before moving on. I made the very easy, gentle traverse over to Mt. Jefferson, only losing about 300 feet, and was stymied in my attempt to eat lunch by flies on all the nice pinnacles. I walked out to the one overlooking Hollowtop Lake, atop steep cliffs. It was about noon, and still awfully cloudy out.

I returned to the Hollowtop-Jefferson col, where the light wind was strongest, and ate some tunafish while noticing that there were other people on Hollowtop--I could hear them, but I never really saw them too well. To descend I scree-skied down the headwall of the ravine separating the two peaks I had just climbed, and then forced my way down the jumbled, steep terrain, dry lake bed, and trailless brushy forest of the ravine's floor down to the vicinity of Deep Lake.

In the upper part of the ravine I kept hearing terrible rockfall noises, and I could see dim figures atop the cliffs near Hollowtop's summit, so I thought that perhaps those people were rolling rocks off the cliffs. But it seemed that they could see me--I even waved at one point--and I highly doubt anyone would roll rocks down a mountain, whether there was a person below or not, even a group as loud as this one. I was never in any danger of rockfall, though, since my route kept far from Hollowtop's cliffs.

After bushwhacking down to the "tarnlet" on my map I blindly headed downhill, and became nervous about becoming lost as I floundered downhill through deep forest before finding Deep Lake. From there I found a unofficial path that led me back to Hollowtop Lake, then around its south and west shores and past some backpacker's tents before bringing me back to the North Willow Creek Trail. This climb had been the most extensive bushwhacking I had ever done in the western U.S.--most ranges have so much wide-open above timberline terrain it's rarely necessary--and I enjoyed this different kind of adventure.

The hike back to my car was uneventful except for some rain and thunderstorms, seemingly most fierce back on the peaks. Still, I was apprehensive about crossing open fields--lightning is my greatest fear in the summer mountains. I was glad to be back at my car by 3:30 PM after passing huge herds of cows along the trail.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4584 ft / 1397 m
    Total Elevation Loss:504 ft / 153 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2.5
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4584 ft / 1397 m
    Route:East Ridge
    Start Trailhead:North Willow Creek  6020 ft / 1834 m
    Time:3 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:504 ft / 153 m
    Route:South Ridge
    End Trailhead:Hollowtop-Jefferson Col  10100 ft / 3078 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 1994 - Hollowtop Mountain

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Hollowtop Mountain1994-07-28 a4584 ft / 1397 m
2Mount Jefferson1994-07-28 b413 ft / 126 m
Total Trip Gain: 4997 ft / 1523 m    Total Trip Loss: 4997 ft / 1523 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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