Big Sky’s Lone Mountain at 11,166′ high, reminds me of, “The Lonely Mountain” – from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”
Dutton and I decided to climb Lone Mountain on a whim, and one day we just did it; our approach was along the left ridgeline leading to the summit.
In retrospect, I suppose we should have told someone we were climbing the mountain, but we never even considered it, and up we went; here we first had to hike above the tree line, on the way up to the ridgeline.
Finally, we reached the left ridgeline that leads to the summit; and once we reached the ridgeline, we were surprised to find a mountain of loose, individual pieces of rock – of all shapes and sizes.
The entire surface of the mountain was nothing but these pieces of rock, from inches across to a foot or more across; all loose and unstable and risking a rock slide down the face of the mountain, which meant for slow going.
It’s a clear shot to the top, looking from this point up at the summit; but because the footing is very unstable, the progress is painstakingly slow going, on our approach to the summit – here I lead the way.
The footing is unstable at best, requiring careful placement of every step, and often repositioning for stability; and as such, we worry about starting a rock slide and being swept down the mountain.
We try our best to avoid both rock slides, and losing our balance and falling…which would be a bad thing on these sharp edged rocks.
The approach is a lot steeper than what it looks like when viewed from a distance; we had to find stable footing and avoid falling left, right or directly backwards.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that falling would be a very bad thing; so we tried very hard not to put our theory to the test.
This picture shows how steep the going was to get to the summit; a rock slide at this point would take us down with it, which really wasn’t part of our plan.
We kept a good distance apart to avoid a loose rock from hitting the lower climber – me in this picture – on the way down the mountain.
I demonstrate how at times we required a serious “four wheel drive” technique to keep our balance on the way up the steep slope.
Lone Mountain is such an unbelievable pile of loose rock, like it was all just dumped in a great mound; everything was loose like a pile of bones, the footing extremely unstable and the slope was very steep.
The view looking up towards the summit looks intimidating because it was at the time; if you look carefully you can just see the crescent moon over the summit.
Finally we crest the steepest part and the actual summit is in clear sight; the hardest climb is over and we’re almost to the top – on a picture perfect day!
Here I finally stand on the summit, which was marked by a flag and a “Guest Book” in the steel box; the view from the top was simply amazing.
I demonstrate that there’s plenty of room to move around on the summit; but the front face of Lone Mountain is literally straight down.
The climb is always the best once the hardest part is behind you; and from the summit the view is worth the effort to get there – here I savor the moment.
We took the time to contemplate and ponder the world below us, while we were sitting “on top of the world” on the summit; and signed the “Guest Book.”
Here’s a close-up of the bandana summit flag; and while we rested and waited to start the trip back down, we took some “You won’t believe this…” pictures while still on the summit.
Dutton takes in the 360 degree view from the summit…while in a rare “serious and reflective” moment, under the most beautiful blue Montana sky.
This is the view looking straight down the front face of Lone Mountain into the bowl below; I didn’t want to get too close, and accidentally go over the edge…
A distant ridgeline, looking across from the summit; sits like the sharp edge of a knife blade pointing up towards the sky.
This is another ridgeline viewed from the summit; and at this point it was time to head back down the same way we came up…very carefully!