65 Photos - Jun 16, 2015
Photo: Behold, Ear Mountain! (2014 photo). The 125 mile journey from Helena includes about 25 miles of gravel. I take the Bellview Road out and then come back into Choteau on the Teton Canyon Road. I like to stop at the Ice Cream Parlor for a huckleberry milk-shake.Photo: The Rocky Mountain Front:
Gibson Dam on the Sun River can be seen below the center of the photo. Rocky Mountain is the highest peak in the Sawtooth Range.Photo: A - The trailhead is 22 miles west of Choteau, MT. The trail follows a Jeep trail until B.
B - Go off-trail here and head up the ridge. The bush-wacking is not bad, and it thins out quickly.
C - This is where you have to decide whether you are going up and over the shoulder, or turning right and going around it.Photo: 2014 - Along the Jeep trail.Photo: 2015 - Here's the group of friends that I guided up onto Ear Mountain (background) on June 16, 2015. Soon after this we were bush-wacking up the broad ridge behind the 4 guys on the right. (L to R: Jerry, Kacey, Hermes, Tanner, Atticus, Tyler)Photo: 2016 - This is a little farther along on the route (my daughter Amy and our dog Missy in 2016). This was the third summer in a row that I climbed Ear Mountain - For me the fun is in showing others the way.Photo: The 2015 group zig-zagging their way up to the shoulder.Photo: 2016 - Where the green ends, you either scramble up to that saddle on the shoulder, or go right and find a game trail that takes you around the cliffs to the back. I've always gone up, rather than around. See next photo.Photo: 2014 photo of Tim on the way up to the shoulder.Photo: This photo courtesy of Summit Post shows your options. The red line is the "Northeast Shoulder Route". See next photo for Google Earth view.Photo: This geologic cross section illustrates the type of thrust faulting that is responsible for the mountains shown on the previous image.Photo: Use the arrow on your keyboard to advance to the next image. I've included photos from three different trips in this album, and they are ordered according to where they were taken on the route.Photo: This map shows where Montana was 340 million years ago (under water). This is when the sediment was deposited that would later become the Madison limestone.Photo: "C" is where you have to decide which way you want to go. You may be able to find a "game trail" in the proximity of the GREEN  line. The BLUE line will take you up and over the shoulder, but it requires picking your way up a steep slope with plenty of loose rocks (not for the faint of heart). The next few photos show the BLUE route. I really like the view from the shoulder and walking along the cliffs at "D" - You miss out on those when you follow the GREEN line. Once on the backside look for trails that take you to the couloir (YELLOW line). Be careful as you ascend the couloir. It is easy to cause a rock to tumble down on your buddies below you. "E" is the summit and "F" is where I've found some great fossils.Photo: 2014Photo: 2015 - My friend Jerry climbing up to the shoulder.Photo: 2015 - Five of my guys approaching the shoulder via the "Northeast Route"Photo: 2015 - View from the shoulder, looking north at the Rocky Mountain Front.Photo: 2015 - Pausing to look before crossing over the shoulder to the east side.Photo: 2014 - Tim coming down from the shoulder.Photo: 2015 - After crossing over the shoulder there is a little scramble to get to the backside (west side).Photo: 2014 - Me, finishing that little scramble with the shoulder behind me.Photo: 2104 - The next phase of the hike involves hiking along the base of the cliffs to the couloir. I've always been able to find trails through the talus or right along the base of the cliffs.Photo: 2014 - Tim, making his way from the base of the couloir back to the shoulder.Photo: 2014Photo: 2014 - Tim starting up the couloir.Photo: 2014Photo: The 2015 group climbing up through the final couloir.Photo: 2015 - The greatest danger is causing a rock to tumble down on those below.Photo: 2015 - Near the end of the couloirPhoto: 2014 - Tim ascends from the couloir to the plateau.Photo: 2014 - Tim headed toward the summit.Photo: 2016 - My daughter (Amy) on her way to the summit.Photo: The 2015 group reaching the summit at about noon.Photo: 2015Photo: 2016 - On July 4th I climbed Ear Mountain with my friend Atticus, my daugher Amy, and my dog Missy. This is Atticus on the summit.Photo: 2016 - View from the summit looking north toward Glacier Park.Photo: Photo courtesy of Sam Beebe and Ecotrust - looking south. The summit is on the north end (closest to the photographer's vantage point).Photo: 2015 - Atticus was also part of the group in both 2015 and 2016.Photo: 2016 - Atticus, Amy, Missy and I walked the perimeter of Ear Mountain, looking for fossils - Actually, I think Missy was looking for squirrelsPhoto: 2014 - Photo taken from summit looking south toward Augusta.Photo: 2014 - Cliffs on the east side.Photo: 2014 - Looking SWPhoto: 2016 - Amy and MissyPhoto: 2016 - Horn coral from 340 million years ago.Photo: 2016 - More horn coralPhoto: 2016 - Horn coralPhoto: 2016Photo: 2016Photo: 2016 - Missy and I near the south end. you can see Sawtooth Ridge on the horizon (another icon of the Front).Photo: 2016 - Atticus walking back toward the couloir. Lot's of Madison Limestone!Photo: 2015 - Last look back at the summit before catching up with the others as the bottom of the couloir.Photo: 2016 - Amy nearing the couloir on the other side of that pinnacle.Photo: 2015 - View from above the the coloir. We hiked along the base of the cliffs back to the NE shoulder (saddle/ridge) in upper right of photo. You can see a faint trail near through the talus in the upper right.Photo: 2015 - Atticus at the bottom of the dangerous couloir.Photo: 2016 - Amy hiking between the couloir and the NE shoulder.Photo: 2015 - Traversing the west side to the saddle/ridge (NE shoulder).Photo: 2016Photo: 2016 - Atticus back on the NE shoulder, enjoying the view before starting down.Photo: 2015 - Back on good footing on the east side.Photo: 2016 - You can't see the trailhead from here, but the yellow arrow marks the approximate location.Photo: Summary
Followed dirt road (A), bushwacked (B), followed ridge (C) to saddle (D), traversed cliffs (E). traversed talus (E) to coloir (G), then up to top . . . 5 miles one way, 3,250 ft elevation gain.Photo: 2014 - This a a view of the west side of Ear Mountain from the summit of Rocky Mountain. I took this the day after Tim and I climbed Ear. That is our friend Mark, who joined us to climb Rocky Mountain.Photo: The 2015 group on the summit, enjoying lunch, feasting on views.Photo: Ear Mountain is 125 miles north of Helena.The Rocky Mountain Front starts roughly 50 miles north of Helena and extends up to Glacier Park. It is where the mountains abruptly end and the prairie begins. Travelers approaching from the east will see "the front" of the mountains. The asterisks show the locations of hikes that I've featured on my blog so far.