Southwest Couloir Additions and Corrections

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jimboa - Aug 29, 2008 12:42 pm - Hasn't voted

SW Couloir Trailhead

The actual distance up Lulu Pass Rd. to the turn off/parking is only about 2.3 miles. A good landmark for parking is where the Goose Creek Jeep Trail branches off to the right. Park here (unless driving a 4X4) and take the hard right there to continue to the trailhead 1/2 mile further down a rough road and back across Fisher Creek. There is a well marked trailhead there for Lady of the Lake trail as well as a parking area for 4X4 vehicles.

Larry V

Larry V - Sep 6, 2008 5:46 pm - Hasn't voted

Thanks ...

for the updated information on getting to the trailhead! I have incorporated your comments on the route page. It is confusing, and seems to have changed since I was there 10 years ago.


phatty - Jul 3, 2013 12:46 pm - Hasn't voted

Round Lake cuttoff

for those with 4x4 vehicle, you can continue north to round lake. about .3 miles past round lake there is a spur trail from the main road that cuts down (north easth) to the lady of the lake trail (1.3 miles i think). This would shave a few miles off the approach.


ClimbingRandy - Nov 30, 2013 9:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Round Lake cuttoff

Phatty - Have you done this approach before? Or just spyed the topo?

Anyone else?



admiralbrown - Apr 3, 2014 1:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Round Lake cuttoff

I did Granite in August 2013 starting from the parking off Lulu Pass Road. Three day solo. Much easier than going over Froze to Death Plateau. This will become the official route for the High Pointers Club. When Don Holmes wrote his book, he got mired in snow trying this route and never mentioned this route again.
Avoid the cutoff past the Aero Lakes and instead stay to the east to Rough Lake. Keep Rough Lake on your right and take the lowest saddle to the Sky Top Lakes. Very rocky trying to hike past the the Aero Lakes. Easy trail to follow to the Sky Top Lakes, lots of people camping and fishing.
I took the Ramp up and not the Couloir, the Ramp is just to the right of the Couloir at the base of the Slab. Key note is three quarters of the way up the Ramp, you exit to the right over a saddle and follow between the Ramp and the Gash to the Summit.
Day one hike to Sky Top Lakes, day two summit, day three hike out.


jdarr67 - Jul 16, 2014 10:11 pm - Hasn't voted


The Lady of the Lake TH is just past the cutoff road that goes left to the southeast foot of Henderson Mountain. There have been many changes to this area since 2011. The Sawmill Road TH way is shut with private property/no trespassing signs. A Forest Service employee told me the Lulu Pass TH cuts 3 miles off the hike to Lady of the Lake. The new TH is a larger parking area with a well marked TH sign and new gravel surface. Too bad so much confusion is associated with this trail head. Just spotting from the Henderson foothills shows that there is still a lot of snow up there. Villard looks like it might be doable right now. Admiralbrown, have you climbed over the cutoff past Upper Aero? Anyone been up this year?


Bobber - Aug 9, 2014 4:44 pm - Hasn't voted

It's the Forest Service employee that is confused

The standard way in to the start of the Granite Peak trail is still there and open. There are no "No trespassing" signs. Park right there by the old cabin as usual. The Lady of the Lake is only about a mile and a half from the Lady of the Lake trail head which is about 1/2 mile below the cabin. I don't see how you can save 3 miles on a mile and a half hike. Perhaps the FS person is confusing Lulu Pass Rd which the Lady of the Lake trailhead is on with Lulu Pass. Don't start at Lulu Pass!!!!
We topped out on August 7, 2014. There were 2 of us and a dog and the dog made it to the summit. My friend did help the pup up a through the big rocks in the couloir and lowered it by rope connected to the handle on the dog pack here and there on the way down. There was the typical 2 snow/ice sections in the couloir. The lower small one was really easy and someone had left a sling to help you over the big rock at the top of that one. They cut in some real nice steps in the larger upper one and we felt pretty safe through these with no gear at all. At first we didn't see them and almost turned back because it was really difficult avoiding this one. There IS loose rock almost everywhere in the couloir so we went one at a time in those tricky places. Knocked a few loose too!
Also...When you are walking along the use trail at the bottom of the big granite slab there are 2 small gullies just past the black stain both of which lead to the main couloir. The 2nd one is easier and someone had left a rope there to help get you over the rocks.
Also the couloir splits into 2 narrow gullies separated by a good rock band near the top so stay on the right side like others posted. At the top of the couloir where others said to turn right aim for that notch on the right. It looks like a crazy knife edge from below but there is a pretty good goat trail just on the other side. It's actually the easiest part of the couloir and it will start heading left like they said. I went under the giant rock to connect with this on the way down from the summit.
The entire summit day was a wonderful, intense and very strenuous one. Ain't nuttin easy about it. The goats walking around and pawing at our tent at Rough Lake all that night were a PIA!!!!!

And your dog better be really trail hardened to make this trip. It was my friends dog and he was adamant about taking him but I wouldn't do it. That dang dog was also on top of Gannett Peak in Wyoming about 2 weeks before so he is quite the mountaineermutt. My friend said Gannett was easier. You will need a good dog pack so you can help the pup out and you will help him out a fair bit and that will slow you down.

Gaddillac - Sep 10, 2014 5:51 pm - Hasn't voted


I work for Beartooth Mountain Guides in Red Lodge, and Ive noticed a lot of questions about this route recently. THIS ROUTE HAS SIGNIFICANT ROCKFALL HAZARD!!! While it may be considered "less technical" than the East Ridge standard route, in the couloir you are exposed to rockfall potential from humans, goats, etc. I would consider it rolling the dice, some people (and their pet) may be fine-others may not. Weigh that risk seriously when attempting this route. It has been intentionally left out of many Granite Peak publications because author's did not feel that it was safe to recommend. The Beartooth Ranger District is on the same page. If you still feel compelled to attempt this route, please take extreme caution with loose rock, as everyone below you-even those unseen-could be harmed if you are not. AND PLEASE WEAR A UIAA APPROVED HELMET!


musicman82 - Sep 13, 2014 1:35 am - Voted 10/10


I'm with Bobber here and strongly disagree with this post; yes, there is rockfall hazard, but I will take that any day compared to a technical route. Any serious peakbagger with scrambling skills on loose rock will be fine on this route - just take the obvious precautions (like a helmet - duh) and enjoy this great way up an amazing mountain! Maybe the guide services don't recommend it because they'll lose business as more and more people use the easiest route on the mountain...

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - May 12, 2015 8:44 pm - Voted 10/10


"Maybe the guide services don't recommend it because they'll lose business as more and more people use the easiest route on the mountain"

Bingo. Although the guides typically don't enjoy bringing newbies up Granite all summer, they do need their paychecks. This route does have more rockfall danger than the east ridge but nothing out of the ordinary like you find on, say, the Wishbone Arete. I think I know Gaddillac too, and I just recently realized that was you who replied to my email more recently as well. If you're reading this, I probably owe you an apology. I probably sounded pretty awful. I was overly excited about moving to Montana and wasn't thinking straight.


Bobber - Sep 12, 2014 11:27 am - Hasn't voted

It's not that dangerous

I have to disagree with Gaddilacs post. I know of several people who have climbed the standard route without any gear and that is far more dangerous because of the extreme exposure. I haven't done it that way but I've seen all the pics here and elsewhere and it's much harder and scarier for those without a rock climbing background. This way is far easier (but still a bitch) and really not technical at all except for those snow patches and in late season with an average snow year they would be melted away. We were never in fear of falling to our deaths. And with so many easier summits that still have a rockfall hazard this is just part of the risk we take. Just go one at a time through those questionable sections and you will be OK. I really believe it is a disservice to the climbing community not to include this easier route in your guide.
My 2 cents.


musicman82 - Sep 13, 2014 1:35 am - Voted 10/10

Re: It's not that dangerous

Well said!


Bobber - May 9, 2015 2:22 pm - Hasn't voted

The start of Broadwater

Nice page redo Reboyles, there is one correction that i think should be made.You state
"I will call this trail junction the Tri-Creek junction since it's where Zimmer Creek, Star Creek, and Sky Top Creek converge to form the Broadwater River".
According to my topo Broadwater starts at the intersection of Star and Zimmer. The name Broadwater River is right there. Skytop flows into Broadwater about a half a mile down to where your route is. People might get confused with the topo and the route description.

I didn't go this way and went straight ahead and crossed Broadwater right at the start of it and took the decent trail to the right. I wonder if this is the easier way?
I posted a pic of the cairn with the stick in it which shows the way to the Skytop Trail after crossing Aero Creek. You might want to put that in your page.

Nice work. 2 thumbs up!!!!

PS After Chilidog summited Gannett and Granite he has now also bagged the highpoint in Mississippi. That dog gets around. LOL

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - May 12, 2015 8:33 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: The start of Broadwater

I actually just finished re-doing the page. I will incorporate what you said into the page though. Thanks for clarifying!


reboyles - Jun 7, 2015 10:26 am - Voted 10/10

Re: The start of Broadwater


Nice job on the rework. It's much better than anything I could have done. Man, it makes me want to go back again.



Bobber - Jun 12, 2015 9:51 pm - Hasn't voted

One more time

I'm thinkin about another climb just for fun this August. Maybe reboyles will want to go with me?


reboyles - Oct 11, 2015 2:37 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: One more time

Oh man, I missed your reply. A group that I was going to join went in September and here is their report. I could not get away this summer.


Ocotillo - Aug 6, 2016 7:33 pm - Hasn't voted

July Conditions & Helpful Hints

My husband and I summited Granite Peak via Sky Top Lakes and the SW Ramp on 21 July 2016. The ramp above the "crux" was filled with snow, probably for 400-500 feet. (We had a 100 ft rope with us that we used to belay each other). I wish we'd brought a 60 meter rope so we could have rappelled through here on the way down. It would have been so much faster. Could have used it in the snow finger at the start of the climb, too. Helpful Hints: From the north end of Sky Top lakes, stay along the creek and tarns for an easier, faster approach to the snow finger (aka snow tongue). It's fairly level and smooth - mostly on snow. We however took a straight line and it took us over rough boulder fields where we were gaining and losing elevation - NOT efficient. Also, we're not young whipper-snappers anymore. We decided to hire outfitters to take us to Lone Elk Lake and drop us there. It was worth every penny. Only one outfitter in town that'll take their animals on that trail: Skyline Guest Ranch and Guide Service. The other outfitters that we talked with did not feel their horses were appropriate for this trail. Skyline steeds and guides were awesome. It's an option definitely worth considering.


jrlang45 - Aug 17, 2016 10:30 am - Hasn't voted


Just got back from a two day summit trip. A few notes:
--The first trailhead at 2 miles up Lulu Pass is the "official" TH with lots of signage and a big, new gravel lot. If you start here, it's not even 10 minutes to get to the upper trailhead with the cabin.
--Once you get to Lone Elk Lake, the trail becomes unreliable. This is a bigger problem coming back, I found, so remember some markers for how you came through certain areas on the way up.
--At this point, the snow tongue is gone and there is no snow on the mountain. However, if you go early in the day, I'd recommend crampons because there are some snowfields at the base of the tongue that make the approach easier and they re-freeze at night.
--Rockfall is a serious hazard from the base of the tongue to about halfway up the ramp. Take precautions and now where other climbers are below you.
--There is a nice cairn at the entrance turn to the ramp and someone also put black tape in the shape of an arrow on one of the rocks. Doubt that will survive the winter but it was nice of that person.
--That "split" about 3/4 of the way up the ramp isn't immediately obvious. I went left, but got stuck right where someone had installed a purple sling to help get up that section. If you see the sling, descend a bit and make your way back to the right, everyone who used the sling said they wish they hadn't.

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