You can get a good look at Koch Mountain during a climb to Como Point (summit at upper left)
Situated on the north rim of the cirque containing the headwaters of Little Tin Cup Creek, this mountain sits on the east end of a high ridge. Because its eastern face widens quickly as it loses elevation, from the floor of the Bitterroot Valley it gives the mountain the appearance of a pyramid. Holding snow well into summer, if you know what you’re looking for, this peak is easily recognizable from many places in the Bitterroot Valley.
Little Tin Cup Point and Little Tin Cup Peak may be my most favorite highpoints in the Bitterroot Mountains. One reason is that almost no one has visited them, and I mean that literally, “no one.” In spite of the fact that they both have an elevation over 9,000’, few people (even climbers) seem to have noticed their existence. With a round trip manageable as a daytrip, I have to wonder what it is that has kept people from visiting these summits to enjoy the terrific views they offer of the surrounding peaks and the Bitterroot Valley far below.
Could it be the high canyon walls which protect the Little Tin Cup Cirque – Chaffin Canyon’s south rim and Tin Cup Canyon’s north rim – have kept it so free from human visitations? Both rims look formidable, but come on, we’re climbers after all. We’re supposed to like climbing.
Or maybe it’s the fact that the Little Tin Cup Cirque has no trail into its upper reaches. The tarn which is the headwaters of Little Tin Cup Creek has no man-made dam, so no trail was ever built.
I think both of those things – lack of trail and protection by high canyon walls – have certainly contributed equally to this area’s lack of visitors. Not on the beaten path, the area of the Little Tin Cup Cirque is “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” of those who pass along the trails in the canyons to the immediate north and south. And from the valley floor where the peaks of the Little Tin Cup are clearly visible to anyone who looks, people’s eyes are drawn to the more recognizable peaks with which most valley residence are familiar.
I know of only two people, other than those I have taken myself, who have visited the Little Tin Cup Cirque and it magnificent surrounding summits. I guess I’ll have mostly unknown area to myself for years to come. Too bad!
The Little Tin Cup Headwaters
High above and south of the Chaffin Creek Trail is hidden a small hanging valley. Home to the headwaters of Little Tin Cup Creak this valley has been visited by an extremely small number of people and with good reason. Besides being hidden from view and therefore from notice, it is quite difficult to reach.
The western end of this valley terminates at the base of Little Tin Cup Peak. Bordered on the north by shear cliffs and protected by trackless wilderness to the east, the most practical way to reach this beautiful place is from the Chaffin Creek Trail. Even then, a southern approach is problematic because of the many cliffs and gendarmes which lie between the trail and the hanging valley.
Fortunately there is one rather wide talus-filled gully which gives comparatively easy access, at least when judged against the other possibilities for admittance. It is the strenuous climb up this gully which allows access to two interesting yet easy-to-climb mountains – Little Tin Cup Point and Little Tin Cup Peak – both of which offer some of the most spectacular views one could hope for.
Covered with a mix of grasses and different types of heather growing under an open forest of Whitebark Pine and Alpine Larch, there may be no more wonderful place to camp anywhere in the Bitterroots. Small streams of melt-water, a small high-mountain tarn, and uncountable numbers of wildflowers only add to the beauty.
Because of its high elevation and orientation, this hanging valley holds snow well into the climbing season, often past the last days of July. That, plus the existence of a more-than-adequate number of mosquitoes certainly shorten the period of time when camping here can realistically be enjoyed.
And there is one other thing. The number of people willing and able to climb to this hanging valley carrying a backpack full of camping equipment can probably be counted on one hand. But if you’re one of those people, what a wonderful place to establish a base-camp during late summer or early fall (after mosquito season) for a multi-day climbing adventure.
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To create the full flow just do not leave anything in the section headings. All of the html code will then migrate to section one.
I built mine in sections with headings and when I was all done formatting I deleted all text in the section headings. Thus the dashed lines and colored section headings.
Image Mapping Test
The bottom left corner of the screen gives the coordinates when the mouse is moved over the following picture. Those coordinates can then be used to code a picture which shows peak names on mouse-over.
A nice panorama of the Heavenly Twins
This picture is coded to show peak names on mouse-over.
Officially named peaks are listed in BOLD ALL CAPS. These are recognized by the USGS Board on Geographic Names. Unofficially named peaks are listed in Standard Font. These don't carry the "official" title, but the names are widely used and accepted. The remaining peak names are shown in italics. These are just placeholder titles based on other nearby geographical features.
The elevation is linked to a photograph (were available).
Lat/Lon coordinates are linked to a topozone map of the peak's location.