Why I wanted to climb Dunrud Peak was easy to explain. It is one of the named Kirwin-area peaks, it is the namesake of the USGS Dunrud Peak quad, and it is a pretty mountain set at the head of the Wood River valley. Part of a wall dividing the Kirwin area from some of the most remote, most rugged country in the Lower 48, Dunrud Peak promised a glimpse of that country.
But Dollar Mountain? That one was harder to explain, though not actually hard.
* I love a ridge traverse above all other things in the mountains except finding a beautiful woman with a cold beer at the summit, which has yet to happen to me. It's a nice ridge traverse from Dunrud to Dollar.
* Dunrud doesn't see a lot of human feet; Dollar has to see even fewer.
* Studying the topo maps suggested there might be some fun scrambling from the saddle north to Dollar. There was. Not much, but it was there.
* I'd always liked the name.
and I set out for Dunrud, planning to go from there to Dollar, which is only about a mile north of Dunrud.
If I ever climb Dollar Mountain again, it will not be via Dunrud but will be via the longer northern approach or a rotten-looking but also fun-looking ridge extending east from the summit (see second photo below). Dunrud is a miserable talus slog. Musicman82 didn't think it was bad, but I have grown a passionate dislike for hiking up steep, loose talus, and that's all the route up Dunrud was to me (the views from the top were spectacular, though).
But Dollar was, well, remarkable and unforgettable, and it became an instant favorite. It's a beautiful mountain, I think, and wild, and offers a short but great ridge traverse
Yet, what was best about it was the sense of isolation and discovery. The following is copied from the mountain page I wrote but bears repeating, and it sums up my thoughts about this mountain and others like it and brings this narrative to a close:
The Kirwin-area peaks do not see a lot of climbers; most people seem only interested in the mining ruins, and most people beyond road’s end are out for pleasant day hikes or are using the passes as parts of extended backpacking trips. The “busiest” peaks are the named ones adjacent to trail-accessible passes; examples are Mount Crosby, Brown Mountain, Spar Mountain, and Cascade Peak. Dunrud Peak is not adjacent to any pass reached by a maintained trail, and it thus gets even less visitation even though it is a major peak out here. Dollar Mountain, being farther than Dunrud, gets even less traffic. Like Dunrud, Dollar’s summit has neither a cairn nor a register. My climbing partner and I did not even see a benchmark, though we did not look carefully for one. For all intents and purposes, the mountain is pristine. It provides a rare sensation in mountains climbable in a day: the feeling, even if it’s an illusion, of being the only human ever to have stood there.
So before you go up with the intent to build a cairn and leave a register, ask yourself what purpose that serves and if it is really necessary. If mountaineers who made it up there before you did not see fit to leave man’s mark on the mountain, why do you need to? Why not leave the mountain wild, unmarked and seemingly untouched? I do not own the mountain, and I cannot control what people do, but I hope that future climbers will leave the mountain as I found it. Let others experience the same thrill of a “clean” summit. Thank you for considering this.
Dollar from Dunrud
Crux spot... | |
The roof of the Absarokas | |