A second for current info on Granite. I'm going with a team of four or five the first week of August. I'm more curious about whether there is snow for water up on Froze to Death, and the condition of the ascent from the saddle as well as the snow bridge.
In response to the last post, I did the Huckleberry Creek route last year, in the last week of June. It is rocky, rocky, and more rocky. Of course it is also much more sheltered from the storms. At that point of the year there was occasional snow by Cold Lake and mini icebergs on Avalanche lake. Above avalanche lake was all snow. An ice axe was helpful for the final ascent from the lake up to the saddle.
I climbed the NW peak on July 8th and Granite on July 9th and conditions were perfect and no one around the entire weekend. I wore light hiking shoes for the whole thing and the snowbridge only needed a few steps chopped with an ice axe. In fact, the mountain goats had beaten a pretty good path across the snow bridge already. It looked like there hadn't been a human footprint on it for some time. There was plenty of water along the Plateau.
For people reading this thread in the future, the month of July is a great month for Granite, depsite popular belief. As some of you know, August gets really crowded. The snow travel early to mid summer is not as bad as it's reputation. Personally, I prefer some snow covering a few of the infamous Beartooth rocks. There will be a new "all-in-one" guide and 1:24,000 topo map published next month. I'll leave another post later when there is more info available.
On another note, a group from Billings has started "The Friends of Granite Peak" and will be spending some time around Granite promoting the use of "Pooh Bags." Many of us are familiar with these since they are required in places like the Tetons, Rainier, and Whitney. The Forest Service is contemplating what to do, if anything, about the increasing activity around Granite and it is fair to assume if we don't manage the area wisely ourselves, it will likely become a permited area some day. THE single best thing we can all do to prevent this would be to pack our our shit. Not to mention saving the water and essence of the place.
PLEASE help us in our efforts to intiate this proactive solution and conservation of this alpine gem!
Well, we just climbed Granite, so I can respond to my own post.
We tried the Huckleberry Creek route to Avalanche Lake route the first day. I second the comment about rocky. You are hiking on boulder fields for miles, very slow. It rained on day 2 so we wound up just scrambling on the boulders up to Froze-to-death Plateau where we would camp for a summit shot on day 3. Day 3 we had a near flawless, sunny day to summit. The snowbridge was almost non-existent on July 25. Enjoyed the class 4+ climbing at the top approach. We were certainly more comfortable with our protection and rope, and happy to rappel on the way down. Many nicely placed rap stations left behing to help you.
This definitely has the most challenging rock climbing of the 50 state highpoints.
We hiked back via FTD Plateau and finally found the trail down.
All in all, I'd recommend the Froze-to-death approach both ways and just hope for good weather.
I hiked up via FTD on Sunday the 30th. We summitted the next day. The snow bridge was completely melted out (snow on both sides of the ridge, but none on the top) so we didn't need the ice axes at all. Anchors were all in good shape, it looked like every 10th party had added another sling to the collection. I nearly hit a mountain goat with the rappel ropes but held off tossing them down for a second and suddenly the goat walked past on the ledge below. We hiked out via Avalanche Lake and the Snowball Lakes, which was scenic but definitely rough. I should have a full trip report and photos under the TR section by next week.