Granite Peak first ascent team

Corrections and additions for Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone.

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Granite Peak first ascent team

Post by TomTuriano »


I recently have been in contact with Mark and Donna Whitham from Idaho Falls. Mark is the grandson of James Campbell Whitham, who was one of the three members of the 1923 Forest Service expedition that made the first ascent of Granite Peak in the Beartooths.

My correspondence with the Whithams has revealed several errors in Select Peaks and has provided some missing pieces in a puzzle that I have struggled with for several years:

1. Most simply, despite considerable research and thought, I obtained the wrong first and middle names for Mr. Whitham. Instead of Joseph C., as indicated in the book, his name was James C., and friends called him J.C.

2. The caption for the picture on page 184 is incorrect. The shorter man on the left is James C. Whitham and the tall man in the middle is Robert T. Ferguson, known by his friends as Fergy. Whitham's birth and death were not 1889-1973 as indicated. The correct dates are: 1888-1963.

3. Whitham was then supervisor of the Custer National Forest and had spent considerable time exploring the Beartooths. On the 1923 expedition, he was considered to be the man with the most knowledge of the country, and Koch indicated that Whitham was the best rock climber of the bunch.

4. I also learned the approach taken to Granite Peak by the first ascent party. Starting at East Rosebud Lake (then known as Armstrong Lake), they started up Armstrong Creek (now Phantom Creek) and climbed up its first tributary coming in from the north. This leads nearly 3,000 feet up Saddleback Mountain, which they traversed past today's Prairieview Mountain (then known as Mount Fairview). They then descended to Moor Pass (lowest point of plateau) and up along the Froze-to-Death Plateau to the east shoulder of Tempest Mountain.

They dropped steeply off the south side of Tempest down scree and cliffs for over 2,000 feet to Granite Creek Lakes (then known as Avalanche Lake). From here, they began their ascent.

More on this subject coming soon!!
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