Route refinement on Elephanthead Mountain

Corrections and additions for Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone.

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TomTuriano
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Route refinement on Elephanthead Mountain

Postby TomTuriano » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:54 am

On 3/24/08, I received an email from Stephanie Buswell, who pointed out that there is no Class I route to the summit from the saddle east of Elephanthead Mountain as stated on page 173 of "Select Peaks." I had not visited this side of the mountain prior to the book, and only had climbed the mountain via its classic north slope. Using the Livingston Peak topo quad, Google Earth, and satellite images, it appeared that the slopes above the saddle were gentle, so I made an educated guess that that would be the easiest route, especially given that most of the way is on a trail.

Stephanie's experience went as follows:

"...when we reached the saddle, all we could see on Elephanthead were vertical cliff bands greater than 100 feet; obviously this was not the correct route. Thus, we circled around the south face of the mountain, hoping to find the cliffs were not on that side, but we indeed found that the cliff bands circled the summit on three of the four sides. Obviously, the only way to the summit was via the north face, which cannot be accessed after gaining the saddle."

I then seeked the expertise of local Dale Sexton, who reported:

"...the most straightforward ascent is directly up the north exposure. And yes, directly from the saddle, one would get cliffed out. However, an intermediate approach (leaving the trail approximately 1/4 mile before the saddle) from the east does exist via a chute just before the cliff bands start. This route then intersects with the north exposure about half-way up to the summit. The north and east route are very aesthetic and I recommend both. Quickest and most direct is obviously the north. If one has more time, I recommend heading to the saddle (lots of fossils and shells), checking that out, backtracking and then heading to the top."

So, "Select Peaks" stands corrected. The north face is the quickest and most direct, but the east face goes too. The east face is perhaps steeper and perhaps more avalanche prone in winter (though the north face is certainly not avalanche free) with difficulties more concentrated in the chute that bypasses the cliffs.

I'd love to see a photo of this aspect if anyone has one.

Thomas Turiano

TomTuriano
Site Admin
Posts: 166
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 11:02 am

Sat image with best route

Postby TomTuriano » Sat Apr 19, 2008 9:04 am

Braden Burkholder submitted this satellite image with the red line showing the best route up. This allows you to stay on the trail as long as possible, but still being able to make it up through the cliff band that circles the peak (blue).


Image


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