Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  09/23/2008
Date Climbed:   09/21/2008
Author:  Andy_Lyon

 Belford - Standard  

There's something to be said for hiking into a white-out on the last day of summer. My son and I disagree on what that something is, however. Since the ice crystals in the face (knew I should have brought that face mask), the white-outs, and the gale force gusts were intermittent, I found them exhilarating. He did not.

For anyone headed into Missouri Basin yet this year:

I don't yet carry an altimeter but I would guess that it's above about 13,400 and higher where snow has drifted into and over the deeper northern-most trail cuts. It is possible to lose the trail if you're not paying attention. More importantly – the snow that fell Saturday night had started to turn to slush on our descent (10 a.m.). The last bit of trail to the summit had already iced over and it won't be long before the ice reaches a lot further down. I had but did not need to use my Yak-traks. I did use and, was glad to have, a trekking pole. If you're headed out yet this season – take both.

A word about the wind: I'm 190 pounds and the gusts were strong enough to physically push me around. Watch yourself on the summit and leave dogs (and kids) at home. The temperature seemed pretty mild but that wind easily put the wind chill in the 20's or lower (we did not lunch or linger on top).

The trail to Columbia and to Elkhead Pass were both still visible. The wind and snow squalls ruled out, for us, making the trip across to Columbia.

It was, as always, thrilling to see the changing interplay of light and shadow as brief bits of sunshine raced across the new snow on the peaks and ridges. The colors have not yet peaked and, the snow that did fall was the perfect consistency for last day of summer snowballs.

We camped in the area of the ruined cabin just below timberline. There are four or five tent sites within a stone's throw of the cabin (though none are flat) and several fire rings. That area is getting pretty beat up so please use the existing sites and rings.

Finally – hunting seasons are underway. I do not know if permits are issued for that area but I would not underestimate a hunter's ability to mistake you for a deer or elk – wear orange (and pack a scarf).


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