For those who enjoy the rugged country of Wyoming's Absaroka Range, Silvertip Peak offers everything from hiking through the beautiful forest regrowth of Yellowstone Park's 1988 fires and green flower-filled meadows to ridge walking and Class 3 scrambling to an absolutely spectacular summit. This mountain is hidden to those who merely drive through the Park, but anyone who has hiked the popular Avanlanche Peak trail to the summit has probably looked at the west side of Silvertip and been impressed with the mountain's distinctive shape and steep southwest face. The terrain on the off-trail approach to Silvertip, while long, is surprisingly easy compared with approaches to mountains on the west side of Sylvan Pass like Mount Doane, Top Notch, and Grizzly Peaks.
At 10,645 feet, Silvertip is the 799th-highest peak in Wyoming, and has a prominence of 1,385 feet. Silvertip is another name for a grizzly bear, as some grow a grey or silver-colored hair on their backs; I felt it was fitting that the bear I nearly walked right into during this climb was a very large male with this type of hair on his back! My hiking partner and I were walking through a mostly open meadow when we startled him as he was sleeping behind a downed tree less than 20 yards away. Luckily for us, he took off in a flash and ran away from us as fast as he could!
Getting There and Climbing Information
To begin a climb of Silvertip Peak, park at the Cub Creek pullout, which is located on the last and biggest hairpin turn about 13 miles inside the East Entrance of Yellowstone Park. Start hiking east on the left side of Cub Creek; the map shows a trail climbing to Crow Creek pass, but there is no trail here. However, the off-trail travel is not difficult for the most part, as the terrain is covered with sparse burned trees from the 1988 fires. Occasionally you may encounter some boggy areas, but other than that the only minor annoyance is the downed trees that sometimes block your progress. About a mile in, rock-hop a tributary stream of Cub Creek and continue up the slope until the trees end and you come to a clearing near the top of the ridge.
You may find traces of a very faint trail here that begins to bear left to Crow Creek Pass, which is located on the saddle between Peak 10,140, which is the nice-looking peak to your right, and the triangular point to its left. Don't worry if you don't find a trail, because the travel through these beautiful grassy meadows is very easy. Make directly for the triangular point to the left of the pass, which is just over 10,000 feet, as going to the pass and then left up the ridge is just extra distance and wastes time.
Once on top of this point, you now have your first view of Silvertip, which is about 2.0 miles away along the ridge. Climb over the summit of Peak 10,060 and descend to some slightly trickier terrain that includes some traversing to the right over talus slopes. There is one steep section after this requires some care due to the very hard dirt which is covered with rocks that are not stable. The next humps can be bypassed on the right, which leads you the mountain itself.
Ascend the ridge through the trees and make an interesting scree traverse to the the right below the cliffs; the footing here can be tricky, and a slip would not have good results. Continue until you reach the obvious scree gully which leads to the summit ridge and climb it. A better option is to climb easy Class 3 rock with occasional scree sections to the right of the gully, which avoids the tiring slog up the very loose rock. The angle of the climb gets mildly steep and a fall could be unpleasant, but the exposure is not bad at all. Once on top of the summit ridge, make your way to the right through the trees to the summit, which is marked with a cairn.
From the summit you will have expansive views of the Jones and Crow Creek drainages on the either side of the ridge you are on, as well as the Shoshone North Fork drainage, which descends from the north near Notch Mountain. Peak 10,542 is the rugged peak just to the east, and Cody Peak is the mountain visible towards Pahaska. Hoyt and Avalanche Peaks dominate the western view, but the most spectacular thing about standing on the summit is the 3,000 foot vertical drop off to the east side.
A distance to the top of Silvertip Peak is 5.0 miles, with a vertical gain of about 2600 feet, which includes the ups and downs along the ridge on the way to the peak. It is all off-trail travel, so plan on taking at least 3-4 hours (maybe more) to reach the top.
Red Tape and CampingEntrance into Yellowstone park will run you $25, or you can buy a year pass for all National Parks for $80. It isn't a bad idea to check with the Park Service before you come for information regarding grizzly activity in the area that you are headed. In addition to both grizzlies and black bears, you will find mountain lions, wolves, and many other types of wildlife, so carry bear spray and know your rules for traveling in bear country. Grizzly bears go everywhere, including very high up; they hunt for moths at high elevations in the late summer months and are expert scramblers on scree and loose terrain.
Backcountry camping is not allowed in Yellowstone Park without a permit. See the Yellowstone Park site for rules and information on obtaining permits.
External LinksSilvertip Peak on listsofjohn