OverviewNorth Trapper Peak 9,801 has many great alpine routes on its great North face. Alex Lowe and Grey Thompson are a few guys who have pioneered routes on the North face. Great granite rock provides excellent climbing during summer. This mountain sees only a hand full of ascents per year and even less groups choose to climb the north face routes, due to its some what remote location and a very nasty off trail bush whack. The approach and descent are the hardest parts of the climb. Expect a very long day to bag this gem.
Getting There: Travel down hwy 93 south past Darby Montana,
From the Trapper Creek Trail head continue on the tail.
Hike in a few miles to the Wilderness boundary. The Forest Service just recently cleared the 125 blown down trees up to the boundary. Hike another mile or less to where the trail crosses the creek for the 3rd time. Do not cross the creek for the 3rd time! the off trail starts here(on the south side of the creek). A small camp spot can be found a few yards off the trail.
Walk up the trail a few hundred yards for a good look at the off trail approach. Study the gully up to the base of the North face. An early start in the dark makes it hard to navigate the approach, expect some nasty bush whacking at first. There is no easy way just start early and expect a few hours to get above tree line.
The North face has a very prominent summit block and can be identified by a white and gold face. High up on the face the Lowe route is visible and the direct North Face route climbed by Gray Thompson can also be seen high up on the face.
There are also 2 very noticeable fins coming off the north face trending right to left. The fin on the right is known as the Antonilli route, this route goes at 5.8r. The fin or rib on the left is a little easier than the Antonilli route and leads to the same 3rd class scramble to the summit.
The route has anywhere from 8 to 10 pitches of good face and ridge climbing. After the 5th or 6th pitch depending on how far you can link some of the pitches together the route tends to ease up, and finishes on good blocky ridge climbing. Which leads to the east ridge that is 3rd class for a couple hundred yards to the summit...
Essential GearStandard rack
(double ropes would be useful if the route has to be rappelled due to bad weather)
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Descent route (west face)The descent route is down the west face leading back around to the North face.
In Ron B. guide book he says to down climb the east ridge back to an "improbable" gully that winds its way back down the north face. This descent has led a few climbers off route.
The info we got was given to me by Rick Torre a long time B-Root climber, who has climbed this route before.We found 3rd to 5th class down climbing. So just be on your shit when starting the down climb. Its there but its not the easiest route to find.
Remember to use good judgment when descending a route.
At the summit walk south looking or any possible down climbing to a ledge system on your right hand side(looking west down to cave lake). After about a hundred yards or so look for a small corner system that is 3rd maybe 4th class down climbing.
Here look for a ledge system that zigs left and then back right a few times. Near the top there are a few scary ledges that need to be traversed before the easy 3rd class starts.
After zig zaging down the west face you will be in a large gully that leads directly down to Cave lake.
A few slabs need to be down climbed leading to another slab system near the bottom of this gully.
Near the bottom of this gully a few slabs can be rappelled to your left hand side, off a tree, or one can try to down climb on the right.
We went for the down climb and got a little cliffed out and decided to rap the last 60 ft or so. A rappel before this might be a better choice. The down climbing is on slabs and is very scary. The rappel looked like it was in two stages but maybe can be done with one rap if a group has two ropes.
We did the climb with only one rope. After the last rap one can walk down and over to the notch on the right leading to a small bivy. This gully/goat trail leads back down with very little problems.
The descent from the summit takes 5-6 hours back to camp and the trail.