Monday, July 23, 2012

Medicine Mountain- central buttress

It was around ten years ago when I first set eyes on the obscure Medicine Mountain which is shrouded in the shadow of more popular peaks in the Beartooth Mountains.  Medicine Mountain doesn't rise above 12,000 feet, it doesn't have an "easy" way to the summit, and Whitetail and Castle mountain straddle the peak and hold classic routes that attract the majority of climbers.  I never knew why it wasn't more popular in climbers eyes; in fact, I only personally (kinda) know of one party who may have climbed it; the badasses Abbey and Shock. 

It was time to go find out for myself what this peak was all about.  Bridget is always game for an alpine adventure so together we hiked the ten or so miles to the base of the peak where we set up camp at the beautiful beyul of silt lakes.

We spotted a nice looking buttress we dubbed the central buttress.  The buttress leans directly over the valley and is constrained by two well defined snow couloirs on either side.  We awoke at 4:00am and were standing at the base of the buttress by 6:00am.  We ropped up and decided to simul-climb what we could to save time.  We climbed up the right side of the buttress leaning leftward where we gained a sharp arete.  The arete soon turned to a mini-gendarme which we passed on the left.  More moderate climbing brought us to the summit by 9:00am.

Bridget climbing low on the route

Bridget on the sharp arete

In the tradition of obscure routes (and safety reasons) I'm not going to even try and place a grade (commitment or difficulty) on this rad peak.  The rock is some of the poorest (loose) I have ever seen in the 'Tooths, and the descent was spicy as well (we rappeled the notch/pocket glacier towards White tail peak).  Be warned, Bridget and I were forced to simul-free solo ALOT.  With this said, it was one of the most pristine summits I have ever been on.  So perfect.

Bridget pulling the ropes and down climbing the pocket glacier with a sharp rock.

The central buttress

Bridget on top with Whitetail peak in the background

Cheers, Loren

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Breaking into the alpine season

Josh Varney and I headed deep into the Beartooths to try a few alpine walls.  We did some amazing climbing and established a new 2 pitch line in the area.  We didn't summit anything this trip, but it still stands out as a perfect climbing trip.  Some climbs are better when they require a few attempts; I think it's something about the preservence and the steep (inner) creative learning curve that accompanies the process that we call climbing.

A view of one of the alpine objectives we tried to climb.  The roof (5.11-) is where I took a leader fall onto a green C3.  Amazing climbing!

Cheers, Loren