North Ridge via Arrow Lake

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Montana, United States, North America

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North Ridge via Arrow Lake
Created On: Dec 17, 2012
Last Edited On: Dec 23, 2012


There are many tales about epic bushwhacks, cliff negotiations, and ice falls when ascending Heavens Peak. Many are 20+ hour horror stories of wading through endless devils club. This is the route to avoid all that - it contains a total of 50 feet of bushwhacking on the entire route and nothing sketchier than class 3. However, it does require an overnight (or 2) stay at Arrow Lake, unless you're up for a seriously epic day.

Gully from Camas Creek

From Arrow Lake head up the poorly-maintained trail towards Camas Lake approximately 2-2.5 miles. At the final ford before Camas Lake (~1 mile before the lake) the trail crosses from the west side of the creek to the east side and bulges eastward through a meadow. There are a series of rocky gullies descending from the long north ridge of Heavens 2000 feet above. Wade off the trail through 50 feet of vegetation to access a gully.
Heavens Peak north ridge gulliesGullies descending from the north ridge of Heavens
Heavens Peak gullyNearing the top of the gully.

Several of these gullies would likely be climbable. We ascended the far right gully as seen in the above picture and had minimal complications. Much of the rock is water-worn and very smooth (approach shoes or something else that glues your foot to rock is highly recommended). However, it becomes progressively covered in bits of talus and scree as you ascend. Any obstacles in the gully can be surmounted by scrambling onto the vegetation bordering the rock. We skirted some cliffs just at the very top of the gully by moving northward on some vegetation. Once on the ridge carefully note your location. Friends traveling this route mistakenly descended a different couloir farther to the north and spent an extra hour negotiating brush. Here are UTM GPS coordinates for the top of our gully: 12N 289847 5401053 (NAD 83), though marking your own location is obviously recommened.


Heavens Peak north ridge
Once on the ridge, the route is straightforward class 2, with small bits of class 3 around rock outcrops, and an absolutely lovely walk. A goat/climber's trail exists in places and large, smooth, slanted rock slabs in others. One or two harrowing steps over small, but seriously exposed, gaps are required but shouldn't present much of an obstacle. We climbed the peak in early September so the large permanent snow patch near the summit was not a problem, but it might be a consideration if the route is attempted earlier in the season.
Heavens peak north ridge rock slabs
Heavens Peak summit view of the Avalanche FireLabor Day weekend 2012 summit views.
Heavens Peak summit viewsLooking north

Lookout Access?

It may also be possible to access the lookout via this route. We ran out of daylight so did not attempt this but it looks doable. From the gully you ascend, 1 mile of ridgewalking towards the north should get you to the recently restored lookout.

Heavens Peak north ridge to lookoutRoute to lookout.

North Ridge via Arrow Lake

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