Joe Peaks Traverse (Bitterroots)

Date: October 6, 2019
Leader: Forest Dean
Participants: Dori Gilels, Minot Maser, Laurel Vielle, Andrew Koopman

The five of us got started at the main Bass Creek trailhead a few minutes after 7:00am on this beautiful Sunday morning. We hiked up the ridge following the general route of the winter skin track to the Bass Creek Overlook lot and then up the trail. Encountered consistent snow at about 7000’. Snow gradually got deeper as we gradually got higher, maxing out at around a foot near the summits and connecting ridgelines. The going wasn’t too difficult though and we were at the Little St. Joe summit (9033’) at a bit after 10:00. This was Andrew’s first Bitterroot summit (congratulations!).

We then proceeded to make the long traverse along the crest of the ridge toward St. Joseph Peak. The snow didn’t allow for rapid movement, but we did ok. Upon reaching the base of the east ridge of Big Joe, we opted to cut across the SE Bowl to gain the South Ridge, which we then followed to the summit (9575’)- arriving there about 1:00pm. Although the sky was cloudless, we were dealing with a stiff cold wind, so our stay on top was brief. We headed down the west ridge of St. Joe, losing 1200’ on the way to a col between it and Stormy Joe Peak.

At this point, Dori and Andrew decided to head down a broad gully to intersect the Bass Creek Trail. Minot, Laurel and myself ascended the winding east ridge of Stormy Joe and hit the summit (9003’) at 3:10pm, completing the three peak traverse. After some snacks/fluid, we descended the west ridge and intersected the trail that heads north from Bass Lake. Here we also encountered Alex, a new TRM recruit! Alex had read about the trip the day prior, had tried to contact me, but I had never seen his email. So, the four of us finished the hike down to the lake, changed into running gear, and ran/jogged the good Bass Creek trail back to the trailhead. Dori and Andrew had arrived about 45 mins earlier. The rest of us arrived out at about 6:20pm

A great fall day in the mountains! Trip was about 18.5 miles, 7700’ of elevation gain, and took us a little over 11 hours.

Forest Dean

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