I am going to visit a friend who lives in Red Lodge, Montana over the fourth of July this year and Im seriously thinking about hiking Granite Peak. If I did it, I would want to use the SW Col route. Does anyone know what snow conditions are typically like on the mountain the first week of July (I know it is based on how much snow fell during the winter, but Im just speaking on average). If there is going to be a ton of snow, I probably won't hike the mountain which would suck seeing that i don't know when the next time I will get back to Montana would be. Also the person I would be going with isn't overly experienced in mountain climbing and i don't want it to be an unsafe situation. Any tips/advice would be much appreciated.
The SW Couloir is a great option if you don't want to go in on FTD Plateau. Check SummitPost for some really good trip reports. A recent one, August 2009, 'Granite Peak Laser Strike & the SW Couloir is an excellent report. I noticed from their photos that the snowpack was minimal when they went. Another older post around 2007 by Splattski has a great photo with their route marked in red. Again, there was no snow. When we went last year there was plenty of new snow that had just dumped. It also stormed when we got to high camp and forced us to turn back.
You can contact Sylvan Peak Enterprises, an outdoor store, in Red Lodge to get some current information before you go. Those guys are knowledgable and might still have one of the out of print Granite Maps. You'll need good navigational skills on that side of the mountain. It's long walk in and all the lakes look alike after awhile. If there is snow; an ice ax, rope and other protection would be helpful if you can't skirt around it.
Another resource is Friends of Granite.com. They do a fly over every year and provide a good look at the whole mountain. Good Luck.
As always, Happy Trails & Safe Climbs
Not going back this year, too many other irons in the fire. Snowpack is supposed to be pretty high this year also which might add some difficulty on this route. I still need to create the mapped route we used and will get that to you for reference along with a couple of photos. Let me know if you're still headed that way.
I was thinking the same thing: with all the snow this year the SW Couloir probably won't melt out enough to climb it without equipment. I'll hike up Boundary Peak since i'll be nearby next month, and save Granite for another year. It looks like i might be moving to Vancouver next year, so i suppose Montana will be a bit closer then.
Please don't tell me i have to do the Canadian highpoints next...