Peak(s):  Missouri Mountain  -  14,067 feet
Post Date:  10/28/2008
Modified:  10/30/2008
Date Climbed:   10/18/2008
Posted By:  Hypersnow

 Missouri Mtn - West Ridge   

After returning from hiking Kilimanjaro, I wanted to get one more 14er in this fall with Sam. We wanted to camp somewhere and avoid some of that recent snowfall, so we choose Missouri Mtn from the West. Turns out this was a great choice.

We left around noon on Friday from Carbondale, and followed the directions to the TH. Most of the snow had melted from the access road; but those trees don't melt. First roadblock was about 1/4 mile from the wilderness area gate.

first downed tree

We were able to break this one with the truck, and with some other trees for leverage pull it out of the road (almost got stuck doing it, chainsaw would have been much easier). But only 250 feet further we ran into a few more; and these weren't moving

big blowdown

Luckily there was a perfect campsite (and/or turnaround area) between the two blowdowns. This was the campsite for the weekend.


We decided to hike up to the lake after the camp was set up (around 5pm). Beautiful weather and no wind allowed for some gorgeous reflection shots.

Emerald Peak? in reflected in the lake

Sam and I goofing at the old burnt out cabin; if this had a deck still would have been an amazing view.

With the gorgeous weather forcasted we figured a late start wouldn't be a problem, so we set out around 9 am. The only other people we saw were the two hunters, which I am sure were rather annoyed at our noisy tromping through the valley. Not sure what they were after at that altitude; but we made sure we scared whatever it was off

me ready with snowshoes at the wilderness gate if necessary (turns out they weren't)

The trail was relatively easy to follow, just heed Bill's directions and keep to the left. We took the lower spur on the way up and the upper one on the way down. In my opinion either trail is a good route. About 1 hour later we topped out in the lower basin (after dropping our post hike coors light's in the stream to chill).

view of Huron Peak from the lower basin (11,950)

Sam with his best Capt Morgan's pose with Missouri in background.

Other than the wind, the day was awesome. We actually shed pants and jackets (and the unnecessary snowshoes) in the basin before the long hike up the "grassy slope". We were hoping those damn marmots were hibernated for the winter, and we wouldn't have any nibbles out of our snowshoes!

Since there wasn't much of a trail past this point we decided to head for a point in the ridge closer to the flat summit ridge (this was a mistake, more on this later).

about halfway up the slope with Huron in the background

It took us almost two hours to gain the ridge, and the direction we took ended up being over some loose scree and was steeper than it needed to be. We ended up gaining the ridge at 13,500. There was some limited snow patches which obscured what litte of a trail there was and we ended up scrambling a little to far left (north) on the steep section, which again took some time and made it a little more difficult than necessary. We finally made the summit ridge around 2pm.

me with the summit in the background

A quick 1/2 hour and we were on the summit. The views were immense. I will definitely be climbing more in October; there wasn't another soul around except for our herd of mountain goats.

Harvard and Columbia across the Pine Creek basin

Sam and I goofing on the summit

On the way down we noticed this rock shaped like a rabbit.
When climbing this route, this is a good place to find your route to the top of the ridge. We took this picture from the rabbit rock
If you look to the lowest point on the ridge, you can see the faint outline of a cairn. This is the direction we came down, and it was much easier than the route we took up. This direction you gain the ridge at around 12,950 and have a much shallower climb without scree!

This is our route. The pink is up and the yellow is down (and the easier of the two).

As for the creek crossings, no problem this time of year. I imagine they can be quite interesting in the early summer. The rest of the road was rough, but should be passable in a 4x4 with decent clearance.
the green bomber on the way out at the upper creek crossing on Sunday.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Nice Alternative Route     10/30/2008 17:22
Having done Missouri from the standard, was wondering where the west route came up. Thanks for posting the details and map. Good report.

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