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    Heavenly Twins

    These two peaks adorn the western end of a three-mile-long ridge which connects to Saint Mary Peak. Easily recognizable from many points in the Bitterroot Valley, these two summits (9,282’ & 9,243’) have been the sought-after destination of many area climbers

    Bagging these summits is no easy task. Over the years, a few hardy souls have reached these mountains by climbing from the Big Creek drainage (south) or the Kootenai drainage (north). Both routes include gigantic elevation gains and sections of hellish bushwhacking.

    The simplest, and likely easiest, route to these peaks is along the connecting ridge from Saint Mary Peak. Staying mostly on the south side of ridge-crest, this path (Class 2 & 3) to the Heavenly Twins includes substantial elevation gain and loss. Once near the South Twin, the track to the summit swings around the south side of the peak before ascending the west face (Class 3 & 4).

    The route along the north-south ridge between the north and south Twins stays close to but not on the ridge-crest (Class 4 & 4). When snow-covered, this connecting route is extremely treacherous.

    Michael Hoyt

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    Kidney Lake Crags

    Above and southeast of Kidney Lake is an extremely gnarly ridgeline which catches the eye of anyone who visits the lake. This arête was formed by glaciers which disappeared long ago.

    Though the area near the top of these dramatic rock formations may not be considered a summit, most who view them from Kidney Lake find these crags inspiring. Finding a way to get a closer look is not only called for, but obligatory.

    To reach these crags, begin from the Kidney Lake Crags Trailhead and follow the old roadbed about .5 miles to its end. Hike westward on the obvious trail as it switches back and forth up the east face of the ridge.

    The trail disappears before reaching the actual ridge-crest (about 2 miles), but it’s a simple matter to follow (Class 2) the crest as it meanders north to the crags.

    There are several large specimens of slab-granite immediately below the crags which make great places for a snack while enjoying the dramatic views of the rocky ridge and Kidney Lake below. Climbing these crags is Class 4 and 5 and of a technical nature.

    —Michael Hoyt

    Holloway Lake

    Situated high in the Sweeney Creek drainage at 7,700 feet, 18-acre Holloway Lake is a popular backcountry destination. The scenic, 7-mile trail starts high above Florence and offers terrific views of Mt. St. Joseph and the Pyramid Buttes along the way. Due to its proximity to Missoula and the easy access to a series of lakes, the trail attracts plenty of traffic. But if you can stand a little company, the clear blue waters and the rugged ramparts above make Holloway a very worthwhile destination.

    Holloway Lake has no obvious campsites, though some intrepid campers opt to bed on the lumpy, canted ledges surrounding the shore. Most overnighters choose nearby Duffy Lake as their base to explore the cirque above. Either way, expect competition for choice spots on summer weekends.

    Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks reports stocking the lake with 2,000 westslope cutthroat trout in 2008.

    Bass Peak

    From Bass Lake, Bass Peak (8,761’) looks imposing as it rises from the southwest edge of the shore; however only from the dam-end of the lake can the actual summit be seen, and then just barely. Point 8752 blocks views of the summit from most all other spots near the lake.

    Reaching the summit of Bass Peak requires Class 3 climbing and, though it can be climbed on a single-day round trip from the Bass Creek trailhead, it is much better to establish a base-camp at Bass Lake and make it a multi-day affair.

    To reach the summit, follow the established trail around Bass Lake to the saddle south of the lake—the trail is not very well maintained after it leaves the area of the lake. Leave the trail and hike in an easterly direction up the ridge-crest to an elevation of 7,550’. To avoid the arêtes guarding the upper portion of the ridge, drop off of the ridge-crest and hike southwest across the bowl toward the south ridge. Once on the south ridge, it’s an easy hike to the summit.

    Michael Hoyt

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    Como Peaks

    The Como Peaks are three high points, locally known as the Three Sisters, situated above and to the south of Little Rock Creek Lake. The west peak is the highest at 9,624, the middle peak is 9,530, and the east peak the shortest at 9,485. These three very-recognizable peaks can be seen from many points throughout the Bitterroot Valley. Although the east summit is the lowest of the three, it is the most difficult to reach.

    To climb these peaks, begin from the Little Rock Creek Trailhead and follow the poorly maintained trail to Little Rock Creek Lake.

    Leave the dam area and bushwhack directly south up a slope covered with trees and undergrowth. Staying close to the bottom edge of the cliffs and talus along the east side of the cirque as you proceed is the best path to the upper levels of the cirque. Climb to the saddle on the ridge connecting the middle and west summits, then scramble to the peak or peaks of your choice.

    —Michael Hoyt

 

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