Badlands Peak *
Religion is a mental disease, often confused with spirituality. --pjs-1965
If you're tired of the crowds of hikers and other climbers around Middle Earth and Boy Scout Ledges at Sugarloaf, try White Rocks. Although it involves a 15-minute uphill hike, which seems to be a big undertaking for a lot of weekend climbers, there are some excellent climbs here in a setting that sees much less traffic than the aforementioned areas do. Of particular note is Sherpa Connection (5.8), considered by many to be Sugarloaf's best trad route, but there are several other decent leads as well as some toprope routes ranging from fun to very hard.
Another benefit to climbing at White Rocks is that the crag is not subject to the gate hours that the main area at Sugarloaf is. Climbers who like a really early start can be frustrated by the year-round 8:00 opening time at Sugarloaf, but if they head for White Rocks instead, they can start as early as they like.
What I really wanted to do was climb Mount Cowen. Said to be one of the best scrambling routes in Greater Yellowstone, going at Class 4 overall with a 5.4 summit block, it sounded perfect for me.
But there were two problems. One was the long hike in, involving a steep descent before climbing to the logical campsite. I hate giving up elevation in order to gain it. The other problem involved time and energy. Climbing Cowen is really best done as a two-nighter; you grunt the 8-9 miles to Elbow Lake and make camp, you climb the peak the next day, and then you hike out the following day.
When you're solo and you can't stand down time and you have to meet your wife the next day, this just doesn't work. In retrospect, given that the weather was perfect, I could have hiked in early, rested a bit, climbed, and then hiked out the next day, but I couldn't have predicted that perfect weather, right?
To be honest, my main reason for bailing on the plan was that I didn't want the long slog up and down, in and out, both ways, for I hate backpacking as well even though I will bear that cross to reach certain places.
So I made a different plan. Crow Mountain was supposed to be Class 3 (easy but still tough enough to make it appealing), and the hike in was supposed to be fairly short and easy. 4 miles and about 1000' of elevation gain to trail's end and camp-- no problem!