Mt. Jefferson from Hollowtop Lake
This is just one of the many ways the Hollowtop and Jefferson can be climbed but nonetheless the Southeast Coulior is a fun and adventurous route up the South face of Mt. Jefferson with Hollowtop only an easy hike away.
From Bozeman Drive 7 miles down Huffine Road (191) to Four Corners. From there drive straight on Hwy 84 about 29 miles to Norris. From Norris take a right on Highway 287 for about 10 miles. Just before reaching the town of Harrison take a left on 283. Drive straight on this road for six miles till you reach the town of Pony. From there continue driving straight on a dirt road till you reach the parking lot for North Willow Creek Trail. From here stay on the trail to Hollowtop Lake with the first 1.6 miles being on an old ATV trail. Once reaching Hollowtop Lake the trail will end. From Hollowtop Lake hike right along the it's east side. Slightly past Hollowtop lake you will reach a stream. Once reaching the stream hike left (west) till you reach Deep Lake. I hiked around the north side of Deep Lake which turned into a rather tedious bushwack. From what I could see I much more recommend the south side of the lake for there seemed to be less bushes and more boulders which would make the trek past Deep Lake faster and more pleasant. No matter which shore you chose once reaching the southwest corner of Deep Lake scramble up the obvious gully till you reach the south face of Mt. Jefferson.
Here the fun begins.
Upon reaching the top of the gully above Deep Lake the South Face of Mt Jefferson will be in view. Head left for the obvious couloir on the right side of the mountain. Once at the base begin climbing the couloir. The couloir i would say is a steady 40 degrees the entire climb. For winter, spring, and possibly fall ascents there will inevitably be a thick layer snow in the couloir making crampons and ice axe a must! As you climb the couloir will steadily head left before topping out on the east ridge of Mt. Jefferson at around 10,240 ft.
Here is where the scramble section begins. Scramble left up the east ridge to the summit. Starting off the Rock is Class 3 but the final 150 feet or so is without a doubt Class 4 making any fall fatal. Shortly before the summit the route becomes more or less a knife edge but the rock is solid and holds are good. If the rock is covered in snow and ice you will definitely need your ice axe, crampons, and route finding skills handy. I did this route in October about 2 weeks after a early season snowfall which made me have to circle around to the north face before scrambling back onto the ridge. However if conditions are good simply head left and enjoy the scramble.
Once topping out Mt. Jefferson you will see that Hollowtop is just an easy hike to the North. Hike down the west face and turn right towards the saddle. From here the hike to Hollowtop is very straight forward. The views on both mountains are very rewarding and most definitely worth it. For the descent hike back down the the saddle between Hollowtop and Jefferson and scramble down (or glissade) the east down the cirque towards Skytop Lake. Continue heading east once in the basin. On the left side will be a tarn. Once past the tarn bushwhack right towards Sky Top Lake. Once reaching Sky Top Lake veer right on it's western side and bushwhack back down to Deep Lake. From here just hike out the way you came.
Top Of Mt. Jefferson
View from Hollowtop
Good footwear is a must. A helmet wouldn't be a bad idea either. During the Winter, Spring, and possibly the Fall crampons, ice axe, plus avalanche gear and knowledge are necessities as well.
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