While climbing the mountain for the first time this weekend with Nancy Bockino, I discovered a few points that require clarification in my Musembeah section (pages 322-323).
1. Firstly, I can see why Finis Mitchell was stopped at the east summit (point 12,355) during his 1953 attempt to climb Musembeah. Like Mitchell, we climbed the long east ridge (Kelsey refers to this ridge as the southeast ridge in his book.) to the east summit this past weekend, only to be surprisedly rimrocked by a sheer 40-foot drop-off to a notch that leads to the summit plateau. We poked off the north side and then on the south, but could not find a way down to the notch. We had no rope to rappel. We retreated to the southeast down a loose 600-foot couloir, and then traversed west under a big cliff face to the south cwm route. When we finally reached the summit, we looked over at the east summit and could see a ramp that we couldn't find from above. It appears this ramp goes at Class 3 or 4, but I'm not certain:
2. The east ridge is no give away. In addition to this tricky ramp descent off the east summit, two other towers pose a considerable route-finding challenge and major exposure. It appears the first tower is best passed through a window, and the second tower is best passed along exposed ledges on the north side.
3. The south cwm route deserves further explanation as well. Many options are available on this route, but only one appears to be Class 3. The others are harder and more exposed. In the upper center left portion of the large bowl on the south side of the mountain, an obvious chimney slices through the lower portion of the cliffs that guard the summit. Climb up the large field of loose boulders aiming toward this chimney. When you arrive near the base of the big chimney, look left and you'll see an easy east-facing grassy chimney. Climb this grassy chimney for 150 feet (class 3), and then move left into a loose gully. Climb the loose gully for 200 feet, passing a black chimney that forks right, but don't go to the top of the gully. Instead, 50 feet past the black chimney, climb a short slab to reach a ramp with grass, loose gravel, and granite slabs. Ascend this left-trending ramp for a few hundred feet, and then shoot directly up slabs and blocks to the summit plateau.
4. I re-read William Cropper's 1956 Appalachia article in which he describes his ascent of the mountain..."headed for a nice-looking ridge on the southwest side of the mountain. The climb was not difficult, but sufficiently interesting because of two obstacles in the form of towers. We took these direct, rappelling down their opposite sides." Although it is uncertain, it appeared to me when I wrote Select Peaks, and I feel the same way upon revisiting it, that Cropper and Dietschy did indeed climb Baptiste Lake Tower and the black dike tower in route to the summit via what would be better referred to as the south ridge. In his guidebook, Kelsey agrees that they climbed the south ridge.
5. Cropper's dike not only "vertically stripes the southwest side of the mountain and protrudes as a tower along the southwest [south] ridge," it also makes a smiling horizontal stripe across the south cwm.
A. Cropper and Dietschy 1955 route (south ridge)
B. South Cwm Route (easiest way up)
C. east ridge route
D. east summit
E. main summit
F. Baptiste Lake Tower
G. black dike tower
H. notch in summit ridge
Corrections and additions for Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone.
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