AI2-3 Steep Snow
Avg: 3 from 1 vote
|Type:||Trad, Ice, Snow, Alpine, 1500 ft (455 m), Grade IV|
|Page Views:||176 total · 17/month|
|Shared By:||Gokul G on Jul 24, 2022|
|Admins:||GRK, Zach Wahrer|
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The Granite Glacier is a 1500' glacier that guards the north face of Granite Peak, and must be surmounted to climb the rock and snow routes above. The glacier starts at about 35 degrees and steepens to about 60 degrees or more near the top. Expect snow climbing in the early season (until July) or after a high-snow spring and more bare glacier ice later on. There are some crevasses and a bergschrund that should be easy to climb through in heavier snow conditions but will require more care later in the season. Most parties will solo the lower part of the glacier and pitch out the final few rope lengths. Gear recommendation: crampons and tools.
Typically, the glacier is climbed to access higher routes on the north face. From the top, follow the standard descent to the east (and down from the saddle with Tempest if you are camped low by Avalanche Lake). If you need to bail or descend the glacier, you might need to make several rappels off v-threads (or bollards) until comfortable downclimbing.
Notable early ascents were made by Don Gordon, Don Claunch, Warren Bowman and William Chadwick in the 1960s and 70s.
For more information, see also Select Alpine Climbs to Montana by Ron Brunckhorst and the Granite Peak Map by Joe Josephson.
The glacier sits above the south end of Avalanche Lake (9200') and starts at about 10,400'. There are a few ways get to it.
1. Do a long, tricky approach (with plenty of bushwhacking and talus hopping, and depending on the time of year, potentially fording a creek or walking through a marsh) via Mystic Lake and Huckleberry Creek. Make camp on the west side of Avalanche Lake. Choose a lower spot that's closer to the water but on a sloping surface or higher up and a bit to the north but on more level terrain. This approach could take a long day under good conditions, but it might be wise to plan for longer. From Avalanche Lake hike up talus and grassy ledges to the base of the glacier (an hour or two depending on conditions and location of camp)
2. Approach via Phantom Creek trail from East or West Rosebud Lake and make camp up on the exposed Froze-to-Death plateau (above 11,000') near Tempest Mountain or drop down from the col between Tempest and Granite (11,550') via a 30-40 degree snow or scree slope, (depending on time of year and spring-summer weather history) and make camp above Avalanche Lake. A high camp is more exposed to the weather but significantly shortens your return to camp, and makes for a much easier walk back to the trailhead.