A giant tease.
There are several respectable mountains near Helena for local peakbaggers to test their mettle on – Casey Peak in the Elkhorns, Baldy in the Big Belts, Crow Peak near Boulder, and Red Mountain south of Rimini are all on public land within an hour drive from town. But the one that many local adventurers wish they could climb is the nose of the Sleeping Giant – an impressive landmark that is admired every day by thousands who live in the Helena Valley. The Giant, whose official name is “Beartooth Mountain”, resembles a humongous man sleeping on his back (photo). Anyone who likes to hike, climb, or explore is sure to be intrigued by him, and will certainly want to figure out a way to get onto his nose. Unfortunately hiking and climbing are not the most challenging aspects of reaching the nose – getting “access” is. Although the head of the Sleeping Giant is on public land (BLM), it is surrounded by private property*, so obtaining permission to climb the nose is difficult unless you know the right people. (Photo Tour)
I know a guy.
I happen to know one of those people, so over the past ten years I’ve been able to lead over 300 people onto the nose (20-40 at a time), including many Helena High Outdoors Club students. The trip is one of the most popular outings for our club, so we try to do it a couple times per year – once in the fall and then again in the spring. Although I can’t give out contact information for my “guy”, we have welcomed physically fit adults who were willing to help provide rides for the students. On our most recent trip this past Sunday (10/15/17) there were 17 students and 14 adults. We left town at 10 am, drove 25 miles to our secret access point, enjoyed a fantastic 6-mile hike (round-trip), and were back in Helena by 4 pm. For the most part it is a “hike”, but there is a 10-minute scramble up solid rock on the north face to reach the summit (nothing “technical”).
Actually, there IS another way to reach the nose that does not require crossing private property, but it is VERY difficult. I have done it a few times. It requires that you travel by motor-boat, canoe, or kayak (my preference) on the Missouri River (Holter Lake) to the shore just east of the nose. From there you can find your way up to the nose. If the winter holds off, I’d like to climb this route again within the next couple weeks and then tell about it on this blog. So sign up in the margin to the right to be notified when I post future adventures.
- Photo Tour of the Hike
My best photos from several hikes to the nose.
- Interactive Topo Map of the Nose Area.
The nose is the pinnacle just south of “6053”.
Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.