Imp Peak, South Ridge attempt, 7/30/05

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Nick Stayner
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2005 9:25 pm
Location: Bozeman, MT/Jackson, WY

Imp Peak, South Ridge attempt, 7/30/05

Postby Nick Stayner » Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:01 am

I caught my first glance of the ridge while looking through "Select Peaks." The image of a beautiful, long, pure rock line stuck in my head, and I asked around to see if I could find any info on the route. Through my research, I determined the route probably had not been climbed, and we ski toured up the Alp Creek drainage in April '05 to get a closer look.

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East side of Imp from low in Alp Creek. When we saw this view in April, we were inspired to come back for an attempt.

We skied to a point at which the ridge (or what we thought was the ridge) revealed itself. From there, we broke out the spotting scope and decided that even if what we saw wasn't the ridge depicted in Tom's book, it looked promising enough to warrant a return trip.

On July 29, 2005, Ryan Minton of Bozeman, Kristen Newbern, and I hiked up to the Alp Lake basin. Upon arrival in the area, we were rewarded with more views of what appeared to be good rock all over the south face of Imp as well as on two other interesting rock features in the basin. Sitting in our camp at the foot of the talus that night, we reveled at having found so many good unclimbed rock lines in the southern Madisons. Little did we know what was in store…

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Our route followed the left side of the rock triangle. Peak still inspiring, but rock less than so.

On the morning of the 30th, we awoke at 5:00am and ran up the talus to the lowest point of the South Ridge. The first pitch went well. The rock was decent with a good amount of pinkish-gray, wavy flakes similar to those on the Buckingham Ridge of the Middle. It wasn’t hard (5.6) and kept us psyched on what was in store. The next pitch gave us a fair share of loose rock, but contained one very fun 30-foot 5.8 dihedral, which again kept us hopeful for better rock above.

Off the belay of the third pitch, we were faced with a scary prospect...a 15-foot lieback up a huge wobbling pillar/flake. I was able to get around actually liebacking and pulling out on the monster via a 5.9 traverse on decent, if crumbly holds. I ended the wobbler pitch on top of a small tower.

The rock above this point looked like it continued to deteriorate drastically and continuing did not seem like a wise prospect. One single-rope rap off the west side of the ridge put us on a ledge that we followed into the south couloir. Following the south couloir to the summit, we got even better views of the terrible rock that would've been waiting for us had we continued on the ridge.

So basically, the ridge is quite enticing in photo and from a distance. Upon closer examination, it's frightening at best. Our trip was a great adventure in some of the Greater Yellowstone’s grandest and wildest mountains, but is also an example of classic first-ascent goggle blindness!

Nick Stayner

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