2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – April 2001

Death On Montana's Granite Peak

High on a Montana mountain, the mystery of a long-lost climber continues to unravel for those willing to make the arduous trek and search for clues that literally lie at your feet.

by: Alan Kesselheim


The way: Take MT 78 south from Columbus to Absarokee. Follow the USDA Forest Service signs to West Rosebud Creek. The trail starts at the end of the dirt road, near the power station below Mystic Lake dam.

Author's route: The two major routes to Granite Peak both start at the trailhead on West Rosebud Creek. Our route goes 5.5 miles on the Mystic Lake Trail, then turns south along Huckleberry Creek. From there the going gets steep and the trail, less and less obvious. At Princess Lake, we bushwhacked along the northeastern shore and climbed to the boulder field near the outlet of Avalanche Lake. Crossing the boulder field, the last challenge in a long day, gets you to a basecamp about two-thirds of the way along the northeastern shore of Avalanche Lake. Climbing Granite involves a 1,500-foot hump to the saddle between Tempest Mountain and Granite Peak and another 1,500 feet up the back side of the peak.

Alternate route: Another route leaves Mystic Lake and climbs up to Froze-to-Death Mountain. The trail crosses a high, exposed plateau on the way to Tempest Mountain, then descends to the saddle. Climbers generally consider this the easier approach to Granite, although the plateau is renowned for bad weather, and its ascent is without water.

Basecamps: The only basecamps along our route are at the outlet of Avalanche Lake and about two-thirds of the way along the northeastern shore. On the Froze-to-Death Mountain route, most climbers set up basecamp close to Tempest Mountain so they'll be within quick striking distance of Granite. For hikers who are not interested in summiting, there are a number of nice campsites lower down along either route.

Season: Snow isn't out of the high country until July, and bad weather is a constant threat. August and September are generally regarded as the best months to hike in the high Beartooth Mountains.

Special equipment/skills: I would never again attempt Granite Peak without wearing a climbing helmet—there's too much loose rock. Carry climbing rope, a climbing harness, and enough hardware to set a belay and manage a rappel if necessary. Crampons are a good idea, too.

Guides: Forest Service map for Custer National Forest (available from the Beartooth Ranger District, 406-446-2103; USGS 7.5-minute quads Alpine and Cooke City (888-ASK-USGS;; $4 each). Hiking Montana, by Bill Schneider and Russ Schneider (Falcon Press, 800-725-8303;; $15.95).

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Nov 29, 2013

Great story!


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Ebola breakout
Posted On: Aug 21, 2014
Submitted By: dayhiker9
Rocky Mountains
Pitchstone/Bechler/Union Falls Loop - YNP - TR
Posted On: Aug 21, 2014
Submitted By: Keith73

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions