Thursday, June 21, 2012

Power Tower

The power tower stands tall over the Mystic Lake trailhead in the Beartooth Mountains. This trailhead is the gateway to Granite peak (the tallest peak in Montana) and it draws your eyes upward as you walk below it.

We had hoped to cross the West Rosebud creek on the bridge near the power station. We talked to the caretaker there and he told us we could not cross the bridge. This is a prime example of why the East Rosebud Creek SHOULD NOT BE DAMED!
access closures, no stewardship, and irrerversible environmental damage...

We ended up walking further down stream and fording the creek.

Bridget fording the stream

Bridget and I bush wacked up to the base of the tower. We knew of two routes on the feature from the Ron Brunkhorst guide (both around 3-4 pitches long) and done back in the 1970's. We wanted to repeat one of them but we had no idea where they were on the feature. With a sigh we headed up an obvious break in the tower, maybe one of the previous routes?

The climbing was cerebral right away. Bridget lead a glacial polished slab with ground fall potential for the first pitch. A few of the pitches climbed steep, but loose, rock that was covered in lichen. The climbing was steep and intimidating. At the top of the third pitch we almost bailed off the route, but we are stubborn and continued slowly upwards.

Bridget on the first pitch

Bridget on the third pitch

The best pitch came high on the route (5th pitch). We called it the "guillotine Pitch". A steep .3 tips crack lead up to a hanging guillotine flake that was hollow and hanging in space directly above. A sneaky series of crimps and slopers went left to right directly under the guillotine. The crux move came where one was on these face hold and had to kick out right to a heel hook on a block, then body tension into a corner. It was a sporting alpine move, pretty memorable.

Bridget on the guillotine pitch.

Bridget on the top with the power station far below.

The wind on the summit

We continued upwards over increasingly better and better quality rock. The last pitch climbed an overhanging hand crack that was amazing! We found some ancient tat on the summit leading down the west face of the tower. We replaced the webbing, then did two 70M rappels into a gully. We passed an ancient fixed nut leading us to believe that the existing routes were on this side of the tower. We don't know for sure though.

Bridget on descent

A different view of what we climbed.

We think we did a new route on the tower (you're never 100% sure in the Beartooths' however). If so we thought "seventh wave" would be a good name for the route. It's 7 pitches total and is solid 5.10-.

It was a really good tower that is close to the car.

Cheers, Loren

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