Monday, July 8, 2013

A Solo on Sacajawea Peak

Folks on the summit of 'Sac.

Sacajawea peak is the highest peak in the Bridger mountains just east of Bozeman.  The peak is named after the Native American interpreter that aided the Lewis and Clark expedition.  From Fairy lake it's a chill 2 mile hike to the summit but the views and geology make it seem like you are deep in the backcountry.  A few years ago I onsight soloed this 800' arete that bypasses the switchbacks leading up to the saddle; it was an adventure as I didn't know if it would "go" within my comfort level.  It goes on mainly solid rock and is much more fun than winding up the switchbacks on the trail.  There is one switchback that heads far right when you're ascending the trail.  At the switchback a rock buttress comes down and nearly touches the trail, this is the arete.  It starts in the dark purple chimney (on a bedding plane) and climbs this corner (5.4).  The next portion is the technical crux.  A short (15') gendarme guards the steller arete above.  Climb this steep face (it is overhanging for a few moves) on less than stellar rock at 5.5/5.6.  It is short though.  After this have fun on the long knife edge arete that climbs up on solid rock for about 600'.   The climbing on this arete is exposed and awesome!  It is easy 5th class to where the arete ends, from here hike to the left and gain the saddle where the trail tops out at the big carin.  This weekend I headed back up to the arete for a multisport conditioner day.  The arete is still an adventure.  Buyer beware, it is a freesolo on loose rock in the mountains (I wouldn't recommend it for everyone).  I think the Bridger Mountains may have a wealth of fun low 5th class aretes like this for those who like long, loose, limestone ridges, and adventure- if there are any other idiots like me out there.

The arete



The first section right off the trail


The steller upper section of the arete


On the west slope of the pass look for these long colums.  These are actually Stromatolites- fossil evidence of blue-green algae and cyannobacteria from ~350 million years ago!!!


The goats are nice and friendly on Sacajawea Peak


Cheers, Loren

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