Tempest Mountain is the closest mountain to the east of Granite Peak, the highpoint in Montana. It's only about 400 feet lower than it and can be reached by nontechnical means. It lies within the Absarokee-Beartooth WIlderness of the Custer National Forest.
From the north, it appears as a gentle sloped peak but from the south it is rugged and cliffy. The approaches are the same as for Granite Peak (great info on that page if you link to it above). You can get the same great views without a technical climb or having to lug ropes up if you want to do Tempest. Beware though, the same notorious weather is there -- afternoon thunderstorms, lightning, wind, etc.
The easiest way to get there is via Avalanche Lake or Froze-to-Death Plateau (which by the way, doesn't seem like much of a plateau to me -- you still have a 1500 foot gain on it over 5 miles). Avalanche Lake involves a lot of boulder hopping and a longer summit day but Froze-to-Death Plateau involves a section of nasty switchbacks with 3000 feet of elevation gain in just over 2 miles. Altitude sickness can occur just when you think you've reached the easy part.
The summit is a mound of rocks (or snow depending what time of the year you climb) with one cream-colored one among a lot of darker ones that looks really out of place. Views of other Beartooth Mountains can be enjoyed from the top along with icy lakes, alpine meadows and maybe a few goats.
From the east or west, you need to take Interstate 90 to Columbus, Montana. Once you exit the highway, take Highway 78 south about 19 miles to Absarokee. Turn right (west) and follow signs to Fishtail, MT. (about 3 and a half miles) Go thru town about a mile until you reach West Rosebud Road. Turn left here and follow signs to Mystic Lake about 14 more miles. (gravel road but in decent shape) The trailhead is in the parking lot of the Mystic Lake powerplant.
No permits or fees required. Just be courteous and don't touch anything as you walk through the powerplant facilities.
When To Climb
June - October as snow levels dictate.
There are campsites at Mystic Lake which is 3 miles down the trailhead.
There are also stone shelters and various places to camp along Froze-to-Death Plateau if you take that approach. If you go Avalanche Lake, there is a meadow at the north end of Avalanche Lake suitable for camping.
Mountain ConditionsCuster National Forest
Pete Shelley - Granite Peak Guide - 406-248-4555
(he's with a store called Basecamp) We contacted him prior to our trip and he was helpful.
Yahoo weather for Absarokee, MT
The best guide book you can get is Climbing Granite Peak: A Beartooth Challenge by Don Jacobs. It is a photocopied booklet of 56 pages. It has all the info you really need to do Tempest. You can order this for $6 from:
7425 SW 259 Way
Vashon, WA 98070
The author also states that this can be duplicated for personal recreational use, so, if you want to pay for shipping, I can also photocopy it for you. I offer this as I ordered my copy through Chessler Books and it took many emails and about 5 months before I finally got it from them. I would avoid them in my opinion as I know others who have had this same problem.
There is no ISBN for this booklet or I would have added it normally to the Books section of this page.