My brother and I recently climbed this mountain, and I wanted to fill in potential climbers with the information that I was looking for, but couldn't find before we left.
I have heard many people complain about the "Switchbacks from Hell". These switchbacks are fantastic. They help you climb to the plateau easily without getting tired because they are so gradual. By my count there are 29 switchbacks, strictly speaking, not 26.
Switchbacks crossing and climbing after the drainage
Heading up to the plateau from the trail (Mystic Lake Side):
When you hit the first big Cairn, travel only a hundred yards or so around a corner and then head up the hill to the plateau. This will save you better than a half mile of climbing up to the junction with the East Rosebud Trail. There is a small ice/snow sheet that marks the area, but it may be gone by September.
Oh yeah... There is plenty of water on Froze to Death Plateau. At least this year. This was one of my greatest worries, and I considered dragging up 3 liters of water each. Luckily we ran into other climbers on the way down who informed us that we needn't do that...
Believe everything you read. Unless there is a stong high pressure area holding firm, you will get Thunderstorms (with hail) every afternoon. Get an early start. We began at 5:45 a little more than a mile from the crest where you descend to the saddle and reached the top around 11 AM. We were slightly delayed as we picked up some other climbers who joined our party, but I think it is reasonable to expect the climb to take between 4 & 6 hours depending on your fitness level, where you start on the plateau and your comfort with exposed routes.
This area is easily climbed, and the snow field can be circumnavigated by staying high on the ridge. Drop down from the saddle a little ways, and find a dirt path that parallels the black band of rocks up to the ridge and stay on the ridge, cresting the hill at the left gun-sight notch.
Not the best picture, but an illustration nevertheless of how to tackle this section and avoid the snow field
Many people climb this route with little more than a rope for the rappels. I didn't see any use for an ice axe or crampons in August. Maybe in Early June these would be helpful. If you want to lead climb the technical section, you don't need a full rock rack. I did so with just 4 cams sizes .5-2. I also clipped in one 'biner to the first rappel station I encountered on the way up. Other than that, a harness, an ATC/8 and a set-up for one anchor/rappel station are all you need. No extra slings or runners or anything else. I also wore my climbing helmet.
I think this was the toughest part of the climb, but I saw people downclimbing even the steeper technical sections. It can be done, but I chose to rappel. If you have a large group, an extra rope is nice becasue the first down can head over to set up the next station while the rest of the group makes their way down the route.
If you intend to descend the entire mountain after your climb, be prepared to hunker down at some point out of the weather. If you can get below tree-line before it hits, you may be alright. We just got to the first campsite (on the way up) and got a tarp set up to wait out the storm. It rained and hailed hard for better than an hour, but afterward, we were able to pack back up and make it down that night.
I climbed granite in august of 09' and found the snow bridge with a lot of snow. You did need an ice axe or a pole to get you through the icy parts but, they had plenty of snow that winter so, there was still plenty left over. We didn't use our crampons. Your 100% right about the weather. It rained everyday once we started but, before they had a whole week without rain. Great job on your climb!! Did you get any pics???
It's too bad you can't post this as a mountain page any more, as there is already one upon Granite peak...For a trip report, I find there is too little personal account - what was the day you yourself went up it like?
I did try to be a little generic, and provide the info that I wanted to know about the cimb that I couldn't find on-line. Our approach day was gorgeous. Didn't even rain until the evening. We then only moved another 2 miles and took an acclimatizatin day. Summit day was beautiful until about 11 AM, then it clouded up a bit just as we were getting to the summit. We had to retreat rather quickly, trying to get off the mountain before the rain. On our descent, we got 2 minutes of snow and a few sprinkles, but the weather held until about 5 PM when we were 3 miles further across the plateau. Then all hell broke loose for better than an hour.