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Divide Mountain Lookout- I don’t think she has many winters left

A guest post from Brother Dear:


The snow HISSED with every jab of the ice ax. I don’t recall ever hearing that particular spectrum of sound from metal-on-snow before. Unlike the constant scraping and whining of cross-country skis, this sound was much quieter- more of a sensation- like when you bite into something just a little too cold and your teeth want to curl back into your throat.

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The hiss was not terribly threatening, as it started near the crest of the ridge as the slim percentages of an avalanche crept to zero. It merely signaled a change in the snow’s composition- this new stuff was harder packed than the miserable wet-goose-down slopes of the previous hour. The first leg of the ascent of Divide’s shoulder required crampons, the ice ax, and quite a bit of digging side to side across the mountain just to find a place where it was possible to gain a little traction uphill. There was a lot more snow than I had expected and it was so deep, steep, and soft that going straight up the ridge proved impossible at points thanks to snow and tree wells, drifts, and hidden rock faces.

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Looking up the Ridge- luckily you can avoid a lot of this, and much worse cornices on the shoulder simply by staying low

Looking up at the point where the shoulder met the main ridge was disheartening. I was already feeling the strain just from gaining a few hundred feet of elevation from my parked snowmobile down below. Cornices overhung nearly every inch of the approach within my vision- and the sun continued to heat up the surface of the already spongy snow. Luckily, I knew from past climbs of Divide (dozens in the summer time, and a half dozen always-different attempts in the winter) that if I could swing north and hit the ridge fairly low then I would have at least a marginally clean shot at the top.

Actually the top ended up being covered with rock-hard drifted in ice

Actually the top ended up being covered with rock-hard drifted in ice

That’s when the snow started to hiss. It caught me off guard enough to write a blog post about it for my sister, so it must have been important, right?

Dear Ole Sis climbed that giant peak in the background with me and several stalwart friends in the summer of 2012

Dear Ole Sis climbed that giant peak in the background with me and several stalwart friends in the summer of 2012

Anyways, there is a more detailed account of getting up Divide in the winter from last year’s post which details the travails Natalee and I faced while climbing up to the Lookout for a photoshoot featuring the Midwest’s finest microbrewery: Indeed Brewing Company. Everybody in and around Minnesota needs to keep helping them expand (currently DOUBLING capacity, no doubt thanks to using such high quality ingredients as Glacier County Honey in their ales) by patronizing their truly high-class establishment. Seriously, top drawer stuff.

Indeed Brewing Co.

Indeed Brewing Co.

Enjoy these pictures of the rest of the ascent. Please note that I do not recommend attempting to climb Divide Mountain alone in the winter time or any time. If for some odd reason you do attempt such a thing please inform friends of your plans and whereabouts and remember that Divide is one of very few peaks in the area from which you will have access to a cell phone signal for most of the route- let folks know what you’re doing!

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I turned around just 50 yards from the summit- the snow got so hard and steep that I could barely kick steps in. Better to have a friend around for that sort of adventure.

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Headed back down the mountain towards the lookout- duck lake is behind the lookout and a bit to the right

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Many thanks to my Aunt Margaret (Sissy) for the fantastic tasting cups. I Intended to enjoy a sample on the summit, but still a nice view half-way up and this dry-hopped pale ale sure hit the spot!

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Putting one more year on the Lookout’s wall for Howard.

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From the Lookout to the Summit

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Looking at the Ascent- with some local horses showing the way

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Up The White Valley: Red Eagle on the left (south), Going-to-the-Sun to the right (north)

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Just below the summit- usually the snow is all blown away up here! Next year I’ll get ‘er done…with Neil Hawks

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From Just Below The Summit- Looking South Towards the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Rocky Mountain Front

I hope ya’ll enjoyed my self-indulgent photo-fest!

Photo Credits to Sanford Stone. Life-saving credits to the Williams Family- thanks for being my support team, Ashley!

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