From the foothills to the north of the Beartooth Mountains, Pyramid Mountain appears as a high, prominent, pointed peak with fairly low angle sides. The easiest route is Class 2, but because of its positioning and the lack of nearby trails, it likely sees probably less that ten people a year, likely much less. The most challenging part about this mountain is that it begins with a 3000 foot climb out of the West Rosebud drainage, then continued on to gain another 2,600 feet above treeline on huge boulders. The total gain is nearly 6000 vertical feet.
Being one of the 27 12,000 foot peaks in Montana, it is a worthy objective for anyone looking to thoroughly explore the Beartooth Mountans. The summit register, like the one on Mount Hague, is currently 30 years old, and was placed in 1985 by members of the Sierra Club. There are years where no one signed it and I was the second person to sign in in 2015. Enjoy the solitude this peak offers!
Getting There - Trailhead Options
West Rosebud - The West Rosebud Trailhead is located approximately 80 miles southwest of Billings. To reach the trailhead, take the Columbus exit from Interstate 90, and take Montana Highway 78 through Absaroka and turn west (right) toward Fishtail (approximately 17 miles from Columbus). From Fishtail, drive west and south for 1 mile and turn south (left) on West Rosebud Road. Follow this paved road for 6.3 miles until reaching a fork in the road and a large brown Forest Service sign. The sign will indicate West Rosebud Lake Road #2072. Turn left here and follow the dirt road for 14.4 miles until reaching the trailhead. The trailhead has toilet facilities, and a large parking area. Please obey the posted private property signs and do not drive beyond the trailhead parking area.
Benbow Mine (Golf Course) - The Benbow Mine (aka Golf Course) trailhead is the normal starting point for people wishing to access the north side of Pyramid Mountain. This trailhead is unmarked and difficult to get to. A tough passenger car can make to the Benbow Mine but a high clearance 4WD vehicle is advised, and certainly required if you plan to drive beyond Benbow Mine. Note that in the "Hiking the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness" Falcon Guide book, this trailhead is called the Lake Wilderness trailhead. Information about getting here can be found on page 97 of this book.
In short, if coming from Red Lodge, start from the MT 308 and US 212 junction at the south end of town and drive north on US 212 for 1.5 miles and turn left onto MT 78. Continue on this road west for 30 miles and turn left on CO Road 419 (also called Nye Road) and continue on this road for 14 miles passing through the small town of Fishtail on the way. Just past the Montana Jacks Bar and Grill in the tiny town of Dean, turn left (south) onto Benbow Road (FS 1414). Drive this very windy road as it switchbacks up to the Benbow Mine head frame after 11.4 miles at an elevation of 8,480 feet. Park passenger cars here. 4WD vehicles can continue driving up a series of switchbacks, which were likely used when the mine was active, for an additional 2 miles to a large open meadow land known as the Golf Course (apparently some miner thought it looked like a golf course). The road continues down a short ways to the trailhead at the south end of the meadow at an elevation of 9,100 feet. A sign marks the end of the road.
Chicken Creek to SE Ridge Standard Route (Class 2) -
East Slopes (Class 2) -
As with the other Beartooth Peaks, there are no permits or fees, and the West Rosebud road is open all year. If you try the Benbow Road approach, deep snow will probably block the road from late fall through mid-June. There are two campgrounds in the West Rosebud drainage, and one of them, called the Emerald Lake Campground, is right at the base of the climb. There are fees to camp, however you can pull off at any reasonable pull-out along the road once you enter the National Forest and camp free of charge. You can also camp on the mountain, with Ram Lake likely providing the best spot. It is recommended that you do this climb as a long day hike after staying the night at or near the trailhead or the Emerald Lake campground.
When To Climb
The easiest time of the year to climb Pyramid mountain is from about mid-July to mid-September. With considerable snow on the ground, this could turn into quite an arduous journey, especially once you gain treeline where the wind and spin drift will certainly carry you away.
Good Trip Report