This was part of a Montana trip involving county high points for Shoshone (ID); Mineral; Ravalli; Granite; Deer Lodge; Beaverhead; Fremont (ID); and Madison. (Initially I had wanted to go after the remaining county high points in the Beartooths (having summited Granite Peak in 2018), but my body was providing some signs that I not provided myself sufficient recovery time this summer, so I kept this trip to day hikes/scrambles.)
A bit of background: Beaverhead County is as yet unresolved when it comes to a singular high point — the two contenders being Tweedy and Torrey Mountains. My impression just prior to making this trip was that the consensus assessment is that Tweedy is the highest of the two. However, just before I left, I posted the query to some county highpointers. Jobe Wymore quickly cast doubt on any certainty of Tweedy’s reign over Beaverhead County. (How this is as yet unresolved by those with LiDAR technology et al is befuddling to me.) Thus I altered my itinerary to visit both summits and cross all my T’s, as it were.
I had planned to attempt both of these summits in one day. The cumulative 22 miles and just under 8000’ of gain was ambitious but attainable, and certainly within my abilities (though to be fair, on Tweedy 2000’ of that gain is in the last 1/2-mile to the summit). I was also enticed by at least one trip report wherein the ridgeline between these two summits was traversed. However, a couple factors led me to dial this back and do Tweedy and Torrey on two separate days. First, I still had North Targhee and Hilgard on my itinerary — neither of them gimmes. Second, the forecast for the following day called for snow (yes, in August), and Torrey seemed far more preferable in those conditions than North Targhee or Hilgard, being a shorter day and more straightforward. I figured with an early start I could beat the afternoon snow.
I spent the night at Dinner Station Campground, an excellent location with a water well. Tweedy being a far less ideal peak in adverse weather, I saved Torrey for the rainy day. The roads to Dinner Station Campground are all fine; however, a few miles toward the start for Tweedy, the road rapidly becomes rocky and rough and single-lane. Upon turning off to the trailhead for Tweedy — marked on USGS maps as Winkley Camp — it becomes even more so. I definitely recommend high clearance & 4WD here.
Just before the turnoff to Winkley Camp I encountered a USFS truck and exchanged greetings. About a mile from the trailhead, I took note of two SUVs parked in different spots in the woods, likely they elected not to drive the remainder to the trailhead. Still I continude driving, and at the trailhead a Tacoma was also parked.
The trail is in excellent condition and well-maintained; some new bridges span minor stream crossings.
At 9000’ I departed the trail and traced the contours to south Gorge Lake. A short bushwhack led to an easy stream crossing. Shortly after the stream crossing, I scrambled up a short 10’ granite wall that deposited me on broad granite slopes, which I traversed trending upward. I came across a couple cairns, and at granite’s end I found a footpath, which I then followed the remaining short distance to south Gorge Lake.
I walked around the southern shore of the exquisite lake, bypassing a couple idyllic campsites. At the farther end of the lake, just before a boulder field, I started up the steep rock-strewn grassy slopes. In dry conditions the footing is pretty easy.
From about 10k’ on, the grassy slopes give way to talus and boulders. It is possible to identify where others have trod, but these areas are loose. For the most part this is good old-fashioned choose-your-own adventure, and I stuck to the more solid boulders wherever possible. This took increasingly considerable care, as loose rocks became the rule rather than the exception. After a time even the largest rocks were unreliable.
From below I had identified several gullies that appeared to be well-traveled. I opted for the middle one, as it seemed from my vantage point to be less exposed. This may or may not be true. For the gully I selected, at 10.8k’ the scrambling becomes fairly exposed class 4 for the next 150 vertical feet. I highly recommend bringing your brain-bucket for this section.
I exited the gully onto a loose slope and traversed over and around several false summits before reaching the true summit. Including breaks, it took me 4.5 hours from the car.
There is a vertically-mounted register at the summit (they seem to like this in Montana; I dig it) but no benchmark. Entries preceding 2020 are a mess of loose leaves; someone kindly brought up a small notebook. At any rate, a couple from Missoula DID summit earlier in the day, although I had not seen anyone. In their entry they mentioned they got a flat tire at the trailhead that would require solving once they descended. I suspect theirs was a two-day effort and they arose from their camp quite early to return to their vehicle in good time to resolve the tire issue. As such, I likely missed them during my bushwhack.
I eyed Torrey, the next day's objective, across the way. Although Jobe had asserted Torrey appears to be much higher than Tweedy from Tweedy's summit, I cannot say I was given a strong impression either way. This was without question the clearest panorama I had been presented this trip, the smoke from the wildfires having cleared considerably. I lingered at the summit for 30 minutes, procrastinating the descent back down to Gorge Lake.
As I traversed the summit ridge back to the gully I had ascended, I encountered a different gully just to the west of it that looked a bit more promising. It is still class 4, and it is more exposed, but it looked to me to be far more solid. On this count I was right. This downclimb — also about 150’ — took no time at all, but there is a tradeoff: all the loose and miserable mess I had successfully avoided on my ascent, I now had no choice but to descend. This process seemed to take an eternity before I returned to solid boulders, and then the grass, and finally Gorge Lake.
From Gorge Lake, I followed the use trails which eventually converged and led back to the main trail. (For what it is worth, I do not think this would have saved me much time on the ascent, as it requires traveling over and around deadfall, which I did not have to do tracing the contours at 9000’.) However if you wish to avoid routefinding and pursue a more established path, this is the more viable option. In that case the path is 2.8-2.9 mile from the trailhead, just below the 8800’ contour. It is not marked in any way with a cairn or otherwise, so you will not see it unless you are looking for it. It is very easy to miss.
It takes me 3 hrs 15 minutes to return to my vehicle from the summit. If I had not chosen earlier in the day to do Torrey on a separate day, this decision would have been made for me after the time it took to do Tweedy.
As at West Goat, all vehicles I’d seen on my way in were gone upon my return. I did not see a single person from the time I met that USFS employee on the road until my return to Dinner Station Campground.
Also, as luck would have it, I returned to a flat tire of my own. I quickly changed it to the donut, but I chose to return to Dinner Station Campground for the night and have it repaired AFTER completing Torrey. My logic was this:
* Any shop would surely be closed by the time I rolled in to Dillon, the closest town;
* Dinner Station Campground, which is right next to the Torrey trailhead, was on the way to Dillon anyway;
* I was better off sticking with my plan to hit Torrey early in the morning before the forecast precipitation arrives, rather than waiting for a shop to open and fix my tire, in which case a good opportunity for Torrey would likely have passed me by by the time the weather rolled in.
Climbed via Gorge Lakes in 2016. Looked like some great fish in the lakes. Road in definitely requires high clearance. Fun and somewhat scary/loose class 3.5ish chute at the top of Gorge Lake route! Because of this chute I would NOT recommend descending this way. We descended via Barb Lake and were not able to find the rumored use trail. The bushwhack was up there with the top 5 worst I've encountered. If you do this route, I would spend more time finding the correct way back, or maybe try sidehilling higher up the slope to avoid the thick brush.
Drove the rough road all the way to the trailhead and broke a leaf spring along the way. As soon as I got out of my vehicle it started pouring down rain, so naturally I expected the rest of the trip to be doomed. Followed the Barb Lake route, which with a topo map and GPS was not too difficult. However, the route is heavily choked with deadfall, most of which was at hip level or higher.
I have not tried the Gorge Lake route, but with all the deadfall of the Barb Lake route it may be the better of the two. That being said, Barb Lake is absolutely beautiful and the route after the lake is nothing more than a simple stroll.
Great hike with Jobe Wymore. We ascended via Barb Lake and descended by way of Gorge Lake. Steep descent down to Gorge Lake with some snow and ice. Fun loop hike.
We decided to come several miles past Bond Lake with mountain bikes on what looked like a road on google earth. After riding a mile to Bond Lake the "road" turned out to be a large ditch for transporting water. This added three miles of hiking one way which made for a longer day than expected. We eventually reached the summit after much bushwhacking, which was well worth it.
Climbed via north face from south Gorge Lake, per description on main Tweedy page of this website...loose bouldery scree at the top is sketchy and easily avoided by going up the northeast ramp: after two hundred yards on the unmarked but cairned/blazed trail to south Gorge Lake, heading south up the mountain after about two hundred yards on the trail to the lake...if you get to the lake you've gone too far. There is no loose scree climbing the northeast ramp. Sweet soft sandy descent to Barb Lake and a swim on a sandy beach. Then the bushwack out...trail is mostly cairned but easy to miss trail and goes up and down and sucks.
Came in through the Barb side and ascended the snow slope. Saw a mountain goat at 11,000ft. Signed the log and then went down a very steep and questionable route to Upper Gorge lake.
I've been thinking about this since I climbed Tweedy four years ago. Next summer...
Camped at South Gorge Lake. Too bad my camera wasn't working on this trip. Guess I'll have to go back!
did the north ridge rte (5.6)and the standard n.e. face/ridge. My girlfriend hiked into our camp, greeting us with beer and cooking up cheeseburgers, grilled onions and mushrooms over a fire... yummie. my partner wants to marry her now.
Climbed via Gorge Lakes and North slopes. 6-8 inches of snow on N. face made scrambling not so fun. Cold and wet. Will return as Gorge lakes are an incredible and easily accessible spot.
Double summited Tweedy and Torrey from Torrey Lake. Great day for my first time in the Pioneers. Storm moved in and we woke up to six inches of snow on Labor Day!
Bluebird June days are simply too nice. A good moderate climb with fun scrambling after the technical pitches, hungry trout, and nice camping contributed to the overall excellence of that weekend.
Second time up the North Ridge rock route, first on the summit. The ridge above is interesting scrambling. Beautiful weekend in the mountains, unless you were a trout!
parallel cracks pitch was way fun, lots of cool scrambling also
Climbed it for the second time, did it solo from Gorge Lakes.
Climbed it for the first time with my dad when I was 7 from Barb Lakes