Getting down to the nitty gritty.
July 2018 was a exceptional month for peak-bagging in Montana – very few storms, not too hot, most of the snow in the high country had melted, and there were hardly any wildfires. I hated to tear it off the calendar. August can be nice too, but it is generally hotter and smokier, plus it brings the realization that summer is going by way too fast. We (teachers in the Helena) start back to work on August 27th, so it’s time to decide which mountains to climb in the waning weeks of summer, and which ones will have to remain on the list for future seasons – a list that seems to get longer every year.
You’ll see what I mean.
For my first adventure of August, I chose the north summit of Sawtooth Ridge, an impressive peak on the Rocky Mountain Front that I climbed with a friend in 2015. Although it is very difficult, I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to do it again – As you look through the photo tour, you’ll understand both the appeal and the difficulty. Sawtooth Ridge definitely makes the short list when considering Montana’s most iconic peaks, so it didn’t take much to convince a couple friends (Kacey and Mark) to come along. (Photo Tour)
Photo courtesy of Eric Heidle taken from MT Highway #21 between Simms and Augusta.
Makes sense now.
We left Helena at 6 am, drove 100 miles north to the Sun Canyon Lodge, and started hiking from there at 8:30 am. I’ve included maps and images in the photo tour to explain our route – Be sure to read the captions. The hike ended up being 10 miles round-trip with 3,500 feet of elevation gain, including a significant stretch of scree and quite a bit of scrambling. The challenging final two miles to the summit took two hours for us to complete. Kacey and I agreed this was the day our high school football coaches were preparing us for when they made us do those grueling bear-crawl drills. Sawtooth is not for the faint of heart, but oh what a view from the top! We returned to the lodge at 3:30 pm and enjoyed an early dinner before heading back to Helena.
- Photo Tour of Our Hike to the North Summit of Sawtooth Ridge.
10 miles round-trip with 3,500 feet of elevation gain.
- Map of the Sawtooth Ridge area.
The North Summit is near the center (elevation 8135).
- My blog post about hiking Castle Reef and Wagner Basin.
Just north of Sawtooth Ridge.
- Sun Canyon Lodge and Outfitting.
A beautiful place.
- Summitpost.org is a bit vague on this one.
There may be an easier route than the one we took.
- Photos from my hike to Sawtooth Ridge in 2015.
The skies were a bit hazy that year as well.
Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far, including several in Glacier Park – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.