Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Northern Rockies. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Northern Rockies Climbing Partners section.
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Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by daw37 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:45 pm


I'm planning a trip across from the UK to the Rockies next year and would quite like some advice from people who know the mountains better than I do! I know the information will be on summitpost but there is so much of it, and difficult to decide what is best to do. My current vague plan (over 3ish weeks) is:

Fly to Denver - go to the Black Hills for a couple of days before going across to Yellowstone. A few days in the Beartooths to attempt Granite via the SW Couloir, climb a few peaks in Yellowstone (Electric, Holmes, Sheridan), do the Teton Crest Trail, then climb Gannett in the Wind Rivers, climb Kings Peak in Utah then finish in Rocky Mountain National Park for a few days before flying home for a rest!

Can anyone suggest anywhere else on that kind of route I should visit? Or should I skip the Black Hills and go straight to Yellowstone?



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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by ExcitableBoy » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:55 pm

I would skip the Black Hills and spend more time climbing in the Tetons.

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by E_Rolls » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:50 am

+1 On skipping the Black Hills. It's a runout face climbers heaven...but no real elevation. Sounds like you want mountain adventure.
The trip you have planned sounds like fun. Go fer it.


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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by mtybumpo » Tue Oct 11, 2011 1:58 am

Head to Idaho after you get through in Yellowstone. Maybe climb Mt. Borah or head for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and hit some peaks in the Ketchum area. You can't go wrong anywhere in Idaho. With the exception of Borah you'll also avoid the kinds of crowds you'll see in Colorado, Utah, Yellowstone and the Tetons.

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by peakhugger » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:37 am

I'll join the chorus of calls to skip the Black Hills, save your time for the GYE (and UT & CO).

Other options to check out just north and west of YNP: Mt Cowen and Hilgard Peak
Both could be done in 2 days if necessary and offer good challenges (Class 3-4) and stellar views without the crowds, excluding occasional crowds at Elbow Lake with trad climbers scaling the local granite (not the main route) on Cowen. Could be good backup options in case you can't get the backcountry sites for the YNP trips as well.

Make sure to time your trip appropriately, which could be difficult with your itinerary. For instance, the SW couloir on Granite was socked in pretty late this year, as discussed here. The standard route on Gannett can be more difficult if the bergschrund opens up in late summer (don't know when/if that happened this year).

FYI: Current projections suggest another year of above average snowpack in the northern Rockies.

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by daw37 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:37 am

Thanks all. I'll probably give the black hills a miss - and having looked may knock off one or two of the peaks in Yellowstone in favour of time in Idaho / more outside Yellowstone.

Peakbagger - it'll probably be late august / early sep. I.e. good for Granite but bad for Gannett. I'll check here before I go for conditions then if necessary do something else in the Wind Rivers. I'll be bringing full winter kit to give me the best chance...

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by Doublecabin » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:32 pm

Idaho is a wonderful state and worthy of any of our time, but with an admitted bias I suggest you plan on staying in the Wyoming portion of the GYE after your trip to the Beartooth.

I'm fortunate to spend my warmer months in the Dunoir Valley, and over 40 years I've learned quite a bit about the greater area having also had a childhood seasonal home above Kelly across the Gros Ventre River. I did the "Complete" Teton Crest Trail again in 2006. It was much more rewarding than as a teenager, truly wonderful. Sheridan is cool, Heart Lake is an awesome backpack/overnighter, but I LOVE the Bechler; along with the Crest one of this country's greatest backpacks. No notable peaks, but with things like perhaps the best backcountry hotspring in the universe in Mr. Bubbles and the most exotic location in the Rockies I've ever found in Dunanda Falls I'll go back there as often as I can the rest of my life.

Another great backpack would be the Continental Divide Crest from Brooks Lake and Bonneville Pass northward to Marston Pass, perhaps go out the Yellowstone from there. The planners of the CDT decided to skip this incredible land of 1,000'+ cliffed plateaus and craggy conglomerated peaks. Whether scared of bears or lightning I don't know, but the lack of notoriety makes it one of the most incredible places in the Temperate Zone.

I guide some dayhikers into the Northeastern Winds. Its an incredible range well beyond the heights. I encourage you to look at other neighboring ranges too. There's a lot more to the Gros Ventre than the world's largest elk heard. My beloved Absaroka are the largest sub-range of the rockies. Horse parties travel a tiny precentage of it. If you want some pics to make you drool drop me an e-mail. I'm happy to help you with many "secrets" to make this a wonderful experience for you. Whatever the case thanks for your tourism dollars!

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by Bill Reed » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:06 am

You really can't go wrong with any of these suggestions, including missing the Black Hills.

Wind Rivers, Tetons, Yellowstone, the Absarokas and Idaho are all awesome. Bighorns are another good choice in northern Wyoming. You can't go wrong with any of them but you can't visit all of them in 3 weeks.

I would suggest you narrow your focus, make a plan, and then, solicit advice.

Good luck!

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by FRhoderick » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:53 pm

Sounds like a great trip. I would echo those who have suggested Mt. Cowen. I've been into the cirque three or four times and never tire of that place. I would also try Black Mountain if you venture into the Absaorkas'. Tons of great climbing in that range. I did the Crest Trail about eight years ago and is also a joy to be on. Have a wonderful trip. Keep the forum posted as to what your narrowed choices are, I am sure you will get plenty of suggestions.


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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by pyerger » Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:01 pm

All great sugestions above! Bora peak is a great one day scramble, Highest peak in Idaho, and only a few hour drive from yellowstone. check conditions for Gannett peak, late season is usally icy,crampons, and ice ax, or tools are a must sometimes the shrund is not crossable. also if in titcomb basin, Fremont is a fantastic climb, 3rd class on good rock (Wyomings third highest) The average Joe takes about 4/5 days for Gannett. The Grand Teton is a must for alpine climbing. The upper Exum route, or full Exum route Is one of the best in the country!! Granite peak is very good!! Also some of my favorites are the cirque of the towers, in the southern wind rivers!! Glacier national park, Very Alps looking!! to many trails and mountains to list!! The San Jauns in southern Colorado Awesome wild flowers wetterhorn peak is awesome, and also the Wham ridge on MT Vestal 5.4 uber Classic!! Rocky mountain national park,Keiners route on longs peak, UBER CLASSIC!! Pagota! Spearhead! To many to list. My top list!!

GRAND TETON!!!! Wyoming
GANNETT!!! Wyoming
LONGS PEAK!! Keiners route Colorado
VESTAL PEAK! San Juans Colorado
GRANITE! Beartooths
CAPITOL PEAK!! Central Colorado
Last edited by pyerger on Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Northern Rockies Tour Suggestions

by daw37 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:09 pm

Thanks all. I'm erring towards thinking Bill is right and its all a bit ambititous, maybe I should stick with Beartooths, Yellowstone, Teton, Wind Rivers and take an extra day or so with each.... Will be doing more thinking / research over the weekend. I always reckon half the fun is in the planning!

@pyerger - thats a great list :) I've already done Longs Peak on a previous trip but the others (other than Vestal / Wolfshead which I hadn't heard of) are all ones I want to try at some point!

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