OverviewIntro: From the headwaters of South Cottonwood Creek or above on the Blackmore/Elephant Saddle, Alex Lowe Peak is identifiable as the largest mass of rock guarding the upper end of Cottonwood Canyon. To the southeast of Alex Lowe Peak, are two large unnamed horns or sub-peaks along the ridge connecting it to Elephant Mountain. Alex Lowe peak is fairly isolated for the upper Gallatin Range.
USGS Topo: Mount Blackmore Quad
History: (Courtesy of Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation): The commemorative name of this peak honors the late mountaineer Alex Lowe of Bozeman, MT, who had a unique association with the mountain (Peak 10,031) which was previously known by its elevation.
Prior to his death in October, 1999, Alex Lowe was considered by many to be the world's best climber (Outside magazine, March, 1999). Alex's climbing resume includes many first ascents - such as Great Trango Tower in Pakistan and Rakekniven in Antarctica - as well as new routes in far-flung places such as Baffin Islands, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal. Lowe reached the summit of Mt. Everest twice: in 1990 and 1993. Closer to home, Alex enjoyed climbing in all seasons in the Tetons as well as scaling difficult ice features in the Hyalite Canyon of the Gallatin National Forest.
"I am pleased and proud that this incredible honor has been given to Alex for his accomplishments as a mountaineer and for the positive, humble spirit that he shared with so many," said Jennifer Lowe, the widow of the late climber and President of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. "It is certainly nothing he would have dreamed of but it is wonderful for the people who keep Alex in their heart to know that amongst the millions of mountains on this earth, there is now one right here in the Gallatin National Forest that is named for a mountaineer from Montana. Terry Cunningham, who conceived of the idea and brought it to fruition, has my heartfelt thanks!"
Terry Cunningham of Bozeman, Montana, who submitted the application to the BGN said, "There are hundreds, if not thousands of un-named mountains, valleys and streams in Montana. The fact that there are still features available to be named for worthy individuals is a gift from previous generations of Montanans." Cunningham also says, "The published criteria for applying a name to an unnamed feature are fairly straight-forward, and Alex Lowe is a textbook example of someone who fits such standards."
The BGN will not consider a commemorative name unless the individual has been deceased for at least five years. Further, the person in question should ideally have a direct association with the feature being named in his/her honor.
In the spring of 1997, Alex Lowe and Hans Saari climbed up a tremendous north-facing couloir on Peak 10,031: a seldom-visited mountain southwest of Mt. Blackmore in the Gallatin National Forest. Once atop the peak, they clicked into their ski bindings and attempted the first-ever ski-descent of the nearly vertical snow-filled gash which they nicknamed "Hellmouth Couloir." The ski required them to rappel over a huge chockstone before successfully completing their descent.
Alex Lowe's parents, Jim and Dottie Lowe, said "We believe that everyone who climbs this special mountain will feel Alex's presence and exhilaration at being there. He was our beloved son, and it gives us tremendous pleasure to know there's a peak with his name, one that he skied in his adventurous way, and we know he would feel honored and humbled by this recognition."
Getting ThereMt. Blackmore Trail Approach at Hyalite Reservoir (6+ mile approach) - Departing from Bozeman, Montana, at Main Street and 19th Avenue; you will take 19th Ave headed south out of town, passing by Montana State University. Nineteenth Ave will curve 90 degrees to the west around 8 miles from town; Hyalite Canyon road will be on the left (south) less than a mile from the 90 degree curve. Make a left hand turn onto Hyalite Canyon Road and continue for approximately 9 miles to the trailhead. The Blackmore trailhead is prominently marked to the west edge of the large paved parking lot. Hyalite Reservoir Dam will be to the east. Topos: Fridley Quad for approach, mountain on Mount Blackmore Quad.
South Cottonwood Canyon Creek Trail (10-11 mile approach): Departing from Bozeman, Montana, at Main Street and 19th Avenue; you will take 19th Ave headed south out of town, passing by Montana State University. Nineteenth Ave will curve 90 degrees to the west around 8 miles from town; Hyalite Canyon road will be on the left (south) less than a mile from the 90 degree curve. Continue PAST Hyalite canyon 1-2 miles until you intersect with Cottonwood Road; turn left, i.e. south (or you may take Main St/Huffine Ln. west of Bozeman and access Cottonwood road directly, turn south). Cottonwood Rd will climb and wind around into foothills, before descending into the flared mouth of the canyon (farmland); look for the gravel road with Forrest Service signs indicating South Cottonwood Canyon. Turn left and proceed to the end; trailhead is obvious at dead-end. Respect private property and control speed on gravel road. Topos: Wheeler Mountain Quad for beginning of approach, Mountain on Mount Blackmore Quad. (Corresponding route description coming soon!)
Red TapeVery little; check Gallatin Ranger Station for road or wildlife closures, fire issues…
CampingNo developed sites. Open National Forest. Practice low impact/leave no trace!
When to ClimbAll year. Summer would be rigorous hike with possibly a little scrambling. In the fall you could find mixed conditions, but likely more on the hiking/scrambling side. Winter would require up to date avalanche information, knowledge of field diagnostics and experience in winter backcountry travel. Spring could provide alpine style climbing in snow filled couloirs.
External Links- Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation - Peak Page
- Press release in Climbing Magazine
- Wikipedia, take it for what you will, biography plus entry on the peak.
- Slightly dated winter trip report (pictures and link in page not available, but the narrative may be helpful). Cottonwood approach.
- Co-first Descender, Hans Saari Memorial Fund
- Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center
- Gallatin National Forest Ranger